Silver Ash’s Rebirth: An Interview with Vocalist, Ling
Since they were founded in 2000, Silver Ash have been musical pioneers both within China and in the wider world as a non-Japanese visual kei band. Despite the band having picked up fame and a healthy following, various economic and political obstacles marred their progress and they went underground in 2005, continuing as an unsigned band but without releasing new music.
After six years away from the bright lights, Silver Ash returned informally with a limited release of Pretty But Evil in 2011 and now two years later, the group have made a firm return first with the wider release of Pretty But Evil in January 2013 and then with the release of the brand single new REBORN on April 6. ROKKYUU caught up with Ling, Silver Ash’s vocalist to talk about their grand return to the visual world and he gave us his answers in English.
69: First, could you please introduce yourselves for our readers?
Ling: Hi, we are Silver Ash, the first Chinese Visual rock band formed in 2000. Ok, that is kind of a ridiculous opening every time. Actually, we are some crazy guys from China who want to perform everywhere around the world. And trust me, you will never regret coming to our gigs.
69: How do you all feel about Silver Ash returning and what exciting plans do you have in store?
Ling: We are excited, definitely. Lives, new songs, everything. We had some gigs between 2005 and now, but there were too few for us. We are a band that really enjoys live gigs and touring, so a worldwide tour is our dream, but first, we probably need to start from somewhere we are familiar with, like China, haha.
69: Can you tell us a bit about your new single, Reborn? Was this a conscious title decision given your international comeback?
Ling: All I can say is that it is different from any of our old songs but really expresses what we want to do now. We want to create something new about music, not just Silver Ash’s music. We always want to evolve our music and make it special. “REBORN” is a song which combines with heavy guitars and heavy wobble bass. It has a rhythm from drum n’ bass, and a dubstep breakdown. It is hard to describe or define it as something typical and that is what we want: a unique new Silver Ash music. Please experience it yourself.
69: What has prompted you to release your singles in three languages?
Ling: English is a language that most people find easier to understand, worldwide. We want to make it easier for people to understand what we want to express, so it should be the best choice; moreover, I’m learning English now. Chinese is our mother language. Japan is an important market in Asia to us. But actually, if we have enough ability to learn more languages, we want to release even more different language versions.
69: Pretty But Evil had a number of electronic influences while REBORN is very much in the drum and bass mould. What has led you to these styles of music away from straightforward rock?
Ling: Actually, we think that there should not be any boundaries between different genres of music. We put electronic elements in our 2002 EP Never End, and it was just a try. Now we want to create a type of music that combines both rock and electronic music. Silver Ash really enjoys creating a new music genre with our music. Change is not bad thing; musicians cannot always stay in the same location and never go forward. If you think our step is too large, you would be better to think about it this way: we actually took almost 8 years to move one step. By the way, when you come to our gigs, you will feel that the changes we made in our music are really exciting. And do not worry; Silver Ash will never lose our spirit of our own aesthetics of music and lyrics.
69:Both singles have had digital releases only. Why did you decide not to make physical CD releases?
Ling: Currently, we don’t have support from a record label, so we do the recording, editing, and post-production by ourselves. So, to have digital release first is easy to us. We will release physical CDs later, please keep following our news on our official website, Facebook and Twitter.
69: You have said before that visual kei is more of an image than a music style and your current image for Reborn is very punk. Why this choice of image? It is quite different from the monochrome style of Pretty But Evil.
Ling: Haha, I do not know if you think it’s kind of a punk style, because the elements of punk rock style are already blended in all rock or fashion. We chose a style that has more aggression to show our determination to be “Reborn.” We are a band that is full of the power of rock.
69: We saw on Twitter that you had been up till 3am shooting a video. Can you give any hints about what this video will be like?
Ling: It was just… how can I say this? We might good at performing on stage, but we’re not as good at interviews or something like now. OK, Cain and I were shooting the video for ROKKYUU (yes for your second anniversary) and we don’t know why, but we just kept having slips of the tongue, so we took almost 3 hours to make a 3 minute video clip. It’s sort of stupid but it’s true. By the way, our makeup also took some time. The same thing happened the next time we made a comment video.
69: Wow, thank you for your hard work! So, Silver Ash has been around for over a decade now. What brought you together in the beginning?
Ling: I think it was a desire for something new, something special. There were many different genre bands formed during that period in China. Everyone wanted to be someone special. The truth is that Silver Ash was special, and of course not just during that time.
69: Who are your key influences in the world of visual kei?
Ling: OK, LUNA SEA must be the one, and hide also influences me a lot. hide was a great musician; he showed me the way of thinking about music and style. “Don’t limit yourself any way.” That is what I have learned from him.
69: What are your favorite musical styles? Have any interesting styles been catching your ear of late and if so which? (We noted a certain dubstep vibe to certain parts of Reborn.)
Ling: Every member of Silver Ash has different taste of music. I love many different genres, from classical to electronic dance music (EDM) to metalcore to British rock (if it is a genre) or even something special like trip-hop. Portishead is one of my favorite and influential bands which I never seem to mention. So, what I mean is that I can’t say which one is my most favorite. I have really enjoyed dubstep and drum n’ bass since 3 years ago, but I cannot say it catches my ear every time. I am listening to Chinese folk music those days.
69: How do you see your role as China’s pioneering visual kei band?
Ling: Well, this is a bit of a difficult question… I guess you can say, we were something special in China, and we still are a special band in China now.
69: What are your thoughts on the development of the visual kei scene in China? In the past decade, a number of bands such as MUCC have played there…
Ling: There were some visual bands that formed in China in the past 10 years, but to be honest they were not good enough to make a trend of visual kei in China. There are many visual kei fans in China, but the market is not well developed, even though there were some good Japanese bands that went to China to play gigs.
69: In the face of your troubles in the mid-2000s, what gave you the motivation to continue as an unsigned band?
Ling: We could not leave the stage. We are rockers, we cannot live without playing music, that’s all.
69: Do you think that music has a role to play in challenging established attitudes?
Ling: I think music is a very personal thing, and how you experience music varies from person to person.
69: To lighter topics, how do you all like to relax?
Ling: Every member has a different way of relaxing. For me, relaxing is reading, and I mean it, haha. For all members, drinking must be the only thing that can make all of us relax, so, cheers! For Yue, relaxing is watching anime or reading manga or playing music. Zhen really likes to drink and hang out with friends, and Cain really likes to listen to EDM.
69: You are all big into your social media with Twitter and Ameba – who are your favorite follows on Twitter right now?
Ling: …oh, that is a hard question, sorry, I am gonna keep it a secret. 😉
69: Finally, can you please give a short message to our readers?
Ling: Hi, we hope to see your guys from the stage someday! Thanks for reading our boring answers. ROCK YOU!
69: Thanks Ling, and thank you Silver Ash!
To celebrate the release of REBORN, Silver Ash have an exciting giveaway to three lucky fans. Check out the competition here!