Interpreting Chinese indie rock music

Chinese indie rock bands translate their song lyrics from Chinese to English to connect with a global audience. The Chinese indie rock music scene in Beijing, China, remains quite small because of the political uncertainty—the threat of censorship, cancellations, detentions, and imprisonment—looms over the Beijing music scene. The Chinese bands, musicians, songwriters, albums, and venue owners all experience doubt about the space for freedom of expression. Chinese bands may perform apolitical music to avoid censorship only to endure crackdowns at their concerts.

Chinese indie rock music in Beijing faces political uncertainty

The Chinese indie rock music scene in Beijing experiences intense political scrutiny and censorship with President Xi Jinping. Beijing-based musicians request anonymity in interviews. LATimes reporter Jonathan Kaiman explains how intense political scrutiny shuts down venues and relocates festivals in the artiwpe “How Xi Jinping’s crackdowns have squeezed the life out of Beijing’s indie rock scene.”
The small size and apolitical nature of the Chinese indie rock music scene have not prevented police crackdowns. China’s Ministry of Culture explicitly bans songs and blacklists performers. Police investigate and detain musicians. They shut down unwanted underground music venues, and force music festivals and conferences to cancel shows, refund the ticket holders, and/or relocate outside of Beijing. As a result, fewer young bands take the risk to enter the scene.
Chinese censorship results in a less vibrant, less passionate music scene in Beijing. Less-developed cities with less expensive rent and less intense political controls can experience a surge of creativity. Chinese youth start bands in Xian, Chengdu, and Wuhan. Many cities in China have an emerging Chinese indie rock music scene at live venues. These can give alternative spaces for young Chinese musicians to start performing and experimenting.

Chinese indie rock music supports development

NPR reporter Anthony Kuhn interviews Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Beijing University, on the Chinese indie rock scene for the artiwpe “As China Cracks Down On Cultural Fringe, Indie Rock Finds A Home In Beijing.” Kuhn explains how the Chinese government and police authorities perceive Chinese indie rock music as subversive, decadent, and bourgeois. That is why the police shut down so many concerts. Pettis founded the record label Maybe Mars a decade ago to have an opportunity to hang out with Chinese bands. Maybe Mars now represents an essential incubator of rock music in China. The label represents Beijing-based Chinese indie rock bands with a heavy Western influence.
Pettis argues that a vibrant Chinese indie rock music scene can foster valuable skills for a developing country. Chinese indie rock music encourages imagination, creativity, and experimentation. Pettis says that young Chinese artists can do things that are unexpected and take music in experimental directions. As Chinese indie rock bands make cities more creative and appealing to the outside world, they contribute greatly to a flourishing society. Pettis argues that this is an important part of the process of China’s development. When Pettis was forced to wpose his XP music venue, his Chinese bands had to find alternative venues for performances.

Chinese indie rock bands translate song lyrics from Chinese to English

Beijing-based Chinese indie rock bands translate song lyrics from Chinese to English to connect with a global audience instead of performing locally in Beijing. Some bands on the Maybe Mars label do not perform live in Beijing due to the politically sensitive capital. Dear Eloise (???????) is a Chinese rock band composed of husband and wife duo Yang Haisong (???), a vocalist and producer, and Sun Xia (??), a vocalist and bassist. Yang Haisong runs the Maybe Mars label. The duo burst onstage in 2007 in Beijing. They produce lo-fi recordings that combine elements of indie pop, noise rock, and experimental music. They translate the lyrics of their melodic, poetic songs from Chinese to English. The albums are courageous and ambitious instrumentally, and the Chinese song lyrics show the couple’s synergy with vocals.
Today they do not perform live. Instead, they release their recordings as inconspicuously as possible through the Beijing-based vinyl label Genjing Records and CD label Maybe Mars. Following a DIY style, they play all of the instruments, record, and edit the music themselves at their home studio. Their album releases inwpude Uncontrollable, Ice Age Stories; Farewell to the Summer; Maybe Mars 5th Anniversary; Beauty in Strangers; and Maybe Mars Vol. 1 (2007-2009). Without live performances, the duo has still achieved a loyal fanbase in the underground music scene in Beijing, China, and abroad.

Interpreting the Chinese to English translation of song lyrics

NPR reporter Lars Gotrich interviews the director of a Chinese music video for the artiwpe “Songs We Love: Dear Eloise, ‘Something Beautiful To Share'”. Director Naomi Yang took the song from the album Uncontrollable, Ice Age Stories. Yang asked for a Chinese to English translation of the song lyrics. The Chinese translation of the song gave her a sense of isolation, melancholy, and nostalgia for “something beautiful.” The Chinese lyrics lament the loss of Chinese culture in the modern cities. The huge, crowded cities paradoxically result in a sense of isolation. Vocalist Sun Xia sings Chinese lyrics that translate to “Maybe every city is doomed in a kind of mood / You and I are a part of it / So where can I find you something beautiful to share?”
While filming the music video around Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Yang honored what she learned in Beijing. Harvard graduate student Laura K. stars in the video. She wears a black lace dress, which may represent a Chinese indie rock interpretation of the traditional Chinese qipao. They filmed outside the Harvard Stadium where tailgating parties had littered the ground with trash. The empty fields and parking lot represent isolation in the crowd. The playing children represent friendship and companionship. They unfold a black paper book, possibly Chinese paper cutting. The friendship could be interpreted as the “beautiful thing” of the song title.

Chinese song lyrics

The Chinese song lyrics of Dear Eloise’s song “Something Beautiful to Share” are here.

Chinese to English translation of song lyrics

The Chinese to English translation of the song lyrics has a few mistakes. Our translation company proofread the translated English lyrics below:

I wish there was something beautiful to share with you
But everything changes so quickly, is anything spoken out worth trusting
Maybe every city is doomed in a kind of mood, you and I are a part of it
So where can I find you something beautiful to share?
Then write it down in a notebook and take it as the future direction
Elephants will come back to the plain again and you will be peaceful as a newborn baby
But still I wish there was something beautiful to share with you
But still I wish there was something beautiful to share with you
But everything will be lost you don’t understand so you float away just like a boat
But still I wish there was something beautiful to share with you
You can wear your flowers and walk around in city streets
You can listen to people talking about things they are interested in on buses
You said yes, yes I want a life like this and that
But still I wish there was something beautiful to share with you

Capital Linguists provides Chinese to English interpreting and translation services with the best and most qualified Chinese interpreters and Chinese translators. The translation company excels at delivering high-quality Chinese simultaneous interpreting, Chinese consecutive interpreting, Chinese court interpreting, and Chinese over the phone interpreting services. Certified Chinese translators deliver precise, accurate, and wpear Chinese to English translation and English to Chinese translation for documents.

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