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March 2, 2012

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Rocker publishes novel but his heart's in rock

CHINESE pop rocker Wang Feng is multitasking and aiming for a crossover between music and writing.

His first novel "Good Night Beijing" was written 10 years ago but was just published along with a section of his philosophy and musings on music and life, and a section lyrics to some famous songs, as well as previously unpublished poetry.

Fans lined up in a long queue for Wang's first book signing this week at the Shanghai Classics Bookstore on Fuzhou Road. Wang modestly calls himself an author, not a writer, which sounds a bit grand.

"I've always been communicating with the world as a singer, getting familiar with strangers with my music," 40-year-old Wang says. "Suddenly I turn to face readers as an author. I feel a bit nervous."

"I wrote the novel 10 years ago. I like to express myself with words. Besides lyrics, novels are another way of free expression," Wang said. His priority is writing lyrics, rather than novels, he said, but added, "Both are something that I love."

The novel, which is semi-autobiographical, is about a young man called Wang Fan in the late 1990s.

The book also includes the notes he took during his musical career, his thoughts on the development of rock music in China and his innermost thoughts about life before he became famous. Born in Beijing into a musicians' family, Wang started playing violin at an early age and later studied at the music school attached to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. At age 19, he joined the Youth Symphony Orchestra of China in college and founded his first rock band, 43 Baojia Street, three years later. He was also the lead singer.

After two albums, "No 43. Baojia Street" in 1997 and "No. 43 Baojia Street 2" in 1998, he signed a solo contract.

His third album "Fireworks" was the beginning of his solo career. Songs such as "Flying Higher" and "In the Spring" became hits on the mainland charts and Wang became popular.

Wang said the birth of his daughter in 2005 influenced him greatly and brought clarity to his life. He said he no longer feels bewildered and has become even "sharper" in his music.

"Here, 'sharper' refers to my personality. It has no conflict with paternal love. In my new album 'Life Asks for Nothing,' I become absolute clear in my attitude. I think it a good change."

When he was starting out, his heart was in rock, but to comply with his father's wishes and have a stable income, Wang took the position of vice concertmaster of the national Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra. He quit a year later and devoted himself to rock.

As he says in his book, "The basic function of rock music is that I can express what people can't express, I can express what people turn a deaf ear to and I can express words that are being suppressed."

Rock and roll always tells the truth and reflects real life and the ideas current in society, he said. It's more than music, it cares for society and its people and has its own voice.

Success hasn't always brought benefits, Wang said. "After being recognized, you face fewer inspirations in life. You can't go back to where you were. The most dynamic part of life belongs to the ordinary people. I must get close to them."


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