Singing in Chinese

by Emma, 10th May 2016

Fader has premiered two videos for Constantly, one in English and one in Mandarin. You can watch them here

It’s been a long time since I was a kid in Hong Kong, speaking Cantonese at school and English at home, where I read Narnia books under the hum of an air-conditioner and dreamed of change. The summer that we moved to England, I arrived with a mushroom haircut inspired by a Chinese pop star called Aaron Kwok, my big reinvention. No one got the reference, and with the honed instincts of a new kid facing lunch alone, I didn’t mention it. I chose a favourite Britpop band. I became shy of speaking Chinese.

The second time I moved countries was to make Second Love. In LA I was a stranger. Once again, I could be whoever I wanted to be. But this time, I didn’t want to change who I was. I wanted to remember.

I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who has always felt separate, and I’m lucky I’ve been able to pin down where the split occurs. This world is so geared towards the west, and I have always tried to accentuate the side of myself which would make me feel accepted. As an adult, I wrote songs about England to try and decipher it. When people asked me ‘No, but where are you really from?” I shamed them and coldly replied, “London.” I was telling the truth – England is my home. But Hong Kong is my home too. I have an entire collection of memories and selves in each place, a way of thinking, counting, and using my mouth that comes with each language.

It has taken a long time and so much music before I realised that I am a Chinese person and an English person, and I don’t have to choose. To be singing and releasing music in Chinese is a profound and moving thing, and when people come up to me at shows and share their own experiences, it makes me feel like I have a community. It has changed my life.

Thank you thank you!

To have two heritages is a gift, and the infinite exploration into Chinese and Asian culture stands before me like the secret world I always dreamed of discovering. Now I can proudly call that mushroom cut what it was. The Aaron. A terrible, brown shape on my head that added two inches to my height and puffed out when it rained like a sad cloud. My half-Asian disaster. Mine.

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