With the proliferation of social media, people are sharing more about themselves and their lives than ever before. There’s just one problem—it’s all on a superficial level. Our digitized existence has trained us to curate our online lives with a polished sheen, priming us to believe that only the highlights should be allowed to see the light of day. Shanghai-based producer and songwriter O Ma Cassé, whose real name is Gregory Williams, believes that the normalization of these online habits is making us lose touch with other people. “The internet offers people a sense of detachment from human relationships,” he says. “It’s led to a decreased sense of responsibility, a decreased sense of repercussions. . . This explains much of the behavior we see play out in social media. When you’ve got to go and share something to somebody’s face, its a much more emotional experience. It’s much harder to do. There’s more at stake.”
与日激增的线上社交方式，让更多人愿意在互联网分享生活。但唯一的问题是，这些分享往往都只停留在事物的表面。在数字化时代，人们的光鲜一面被精心打磨，似乎只有最精彩的片刻才肯被我们拿出来分享。在上海生活的唱作兼制作人 O Ma Cassé（原名 Gregory Williams）看来，所谓 “网络生活” 的普及化让人与人之间的关系渐行渐远。他说：“互联网让人际关系脱节，导致我们的责任感以及对外界的感知也被削弱……因此，互联网上许多不好的现象正在发生。当人与人面对面交流，你可以体会到更多情感，但这在如今变得愈发困难，人际关系的形势不容乐观。”
Our codependence on the internet, as he sees it, has also made people forget how to be honest to themselves, especially on an emotional level. “In order to be emotionally honest to the people around us, we first have to be honest and connected to our inner selves,” Williams says. “This is my mission. . . to inspire people to acknowledge their true feelings about difficult subjects and to consider being more open and emotionally honest with the people closest to them.”
His debut album, Unspoken Lies, is a narrative EP that explores the consequences of dishonesty through a fictional story of two scorned lovers. The concept for the album was inspired by the topic of emotional infidelity, a matter that Williams and many of his friends have shared countless conversations over. Across the project’s four tracks, he shows no hesitance in embracing the discomfort of his past experiences. “Creativity is a great way to connect with my feelings,” he says. “It brings self-understanding. Even if I’m grappling with difficult memories, the process of reflecting, writing, and producing is positive. It’s cathartic.”
他的首张专辑《Unspoken Lies》具有很强的叙事性，通过恋人之间的对质，探讨欺骗的苦果。“情感不忠” 是 Gregory 与朋友经常讨论的话题，这一话题同时也贯穿了整张专辑的主题。在专辑的四首曲目中，自己对过去一些不快的经历直言不讳。他说：“创作是我和自己的情感建立联系的好方法，可以让我更好地了解我自己。即使是一些不太愉快的回忆，反思、写作和创作的过程也能带来积极的方面，对我来说是一种情感宣泄的方式。”
The eponymous intro track—featuring English vocals by Williams and Chinese vocals by Madame Gao—sets the scene for the entire album. The story begins with a man who isn’t ready to own up to his mistakes, and as distrust mounts between him and his lover, their relationship appears to be in rapid freefall. Aside from the emotional duet, the skittering percussions and growling synths that dot the track contribute to the sense of tension that seems to be nearing the point of no return.
The second track, “Alter Ego,” rappels listeners down into the male narrator’s psyche where a skirmish with his inner demons is playing out. The track bounces between paranoia-inducing dissonance and moments of tranquility, with the latter coming in the form of ethereal vocalizations that evoke whiffs of James Blake and Thom Yorke. But these moments of respite are brief, and listeners are repeatedly reintroduced to the cacophonous sounds—ominous basslines, siren-like screeching, and fractured rhythms—that dominate the track. The harrowing sonic terrain that Williams has vividly constructed paints a clear picture: this is a losing battle.
与专辑同名的序曲结合了 Gregory 的英语和 Madame Gao 的中文演唱部分，为整张专辑铺垫了一层都市肌理。故事开篇遍描述了一个不愿承认错误的男人，当恋人之间的信任渐渐缺失，两人的关系也迅速崩塌。除了两位演唱者倾注情感的嗓音之外，跳跃的节拍和轰鸣的电音穿插其中，加剧着音乐的紧张气氛，达到无路可退的地步。
专辑第二首歌《Alter Ego》袒露了男主角的内心世界，讲述了他与心中恶魔搏斗的故事。偏执的不和谐音与间歇性的冷静情绪交相替换，飘渺的旋律弥漫在歌曲的后半段，裹挟着几分 James Blake 和 Thom Yorke 的神秘与不确定性。音乐的间奏时间很短，反而不和谐音不断响起，主导着整首歌曲 —— 时而是令人不安的低音线条、时而是警笛般刺耳的嚎叫、还有破碎的旋律和节奏散散落其中。Gregory 用音乐生动地勾画出痛苦的情绪，清晰地传达出：这是一场注定失败的求索。
The mood swivels around on “Burn,” and Madame Gao takes the reins. The dark intonations of the previous track have carried over into this track, but it’s mutated into an infectious energy that the female protagonist happily wields. Over heady electro synths and a pulsating rhythm, Madame Gao sings of the female protagonist’s revenge by way of a one-night stand while Nanjing-based rapper Tingting boasts of her own role in the payback. Williams’s track design—with the click-clacking of staccato heels on linoleum and its thumping low-ends—transports listeners into the seamy corridors of a Berlin nightclub, a place where such erotic debauchery is par for the course.
情绪在《Burn》中发生了变化，由 Madame Gao 接手演绎。暗黑系的声调沿袭了上一首歌曲，不过突如其来的女声极具感染力，带听众进入喜乐的境地——在扑面而来的合成器旋律里，Madame Gao 讲述了女主角通过一夜情来实现的复仇计划。歌曲携手了南京说唱女歌手 Tingting ，招摇的情绪让她成为整场故事的主角。Gregory 在创作歌曲时，特意加入了高跟鞋踩在地砖上的采样，让听众仿佛置身于柏林夜店的黑暗走廊，四周充满了诱惑的情欲氛围。
“Crazy Talk,” the album’s final track, is a remarkably drastic shift in tone. The emotional tempest that’s been brewing throughout the album has culminated in this closing salvo. Despite it being the most melodic song of the EP, the dark motifs of the album aren’t quite ready to relent—it’s simply arrived in the form of black humor. On the track, Madame Gao celebrates her misdeeds from the previous night with a jubilant nonchalance. Williams’s character is resentful to how things turned out, but the measured delivery suggests that he’s more or less resigned with it. Despite the not-so-happy turnout, the bright synth stabs and pop vocals that end the song propose that there’s an unmistakable joy to be found in closure. But more importantly, the stark contrast between the musicality of this track and the earlier tracks is meant to be a reminder: a bit of open honesty at the beginning would’ve led to a much different outcome.
专辑最后的曲目《Crazy Talk》在风格上突然转变。整张专辑中不断蕴酿的情感在这里达至高潮。尽管这首歌的曲风在整张专辑中最为悦耳，但依然在讲述专辑沉重的主题，只不过现在以黑色幽默的形式出现。歌中，Madame Gao 以蛮不在乎的语调道出前夜出轨的事实，而由 Gregory 演绎的男性角色则表达对她所做一切的愤怒但却克制的情绪，暗示他或多或少接受事实的无奈。故事的结果虽不尽人意，而整首歌曲在合成器与人声间交织的快乐气氛，却引人陷入思考。Gregory 仿佛在用与之前截然不同的曲风阐明观点：如果从一开始能坦诚相待，结果可能没有那么糟糕。
Williams believes this call to action for people to open honest dialogues with one another is especially relevant now. Even though the album is only a micro-level look at the consequences of deception, the cautionary tale was created with a bigger picture in mind. “It takes time to develop one’s worldview, and mine has matured as I evolved as a producer,” he says. “I now feel in a place where I have a lot to say and value to bring to the world. Art has always played a big role in showing people a new angle on the things they struggle with. So I hope this project can be that start point for some people.”
Silence and lies only widen the divide between people, and with the way this year has unraveled, being truthful and communicative can be a meaningful first step in changing the state of affairs. Though it may not always seem like it, our actions (and inactions) as individuals can have a rippling impact on the world at large, and so, now is perhaps as good a time as any to ask ourselves, “What are our unspoken lies?”
Contributor: David Yen
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li