Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hola! These Spanish guys in GAS really sing in Chinese in Barcelona


blog post by Dan Bloom

Taiwan -- April 14, 2014 -- Take 6 fun-loving Spanish guys in a homegrown band in Barcelona,

add some lyrics in Chinese to their repertoire, and voila, you've got GAS.

Jordi Riba is the only one who speaks Chinese fluently. He

has studied Chinese at a language school in Spain and does the
translations of the original Spanish lyrics. He also teaches English
and Chinese to kids in his town, as his day job.
To create songs with Chinese lyrics, Jordi transposes the words from

Spanish into a new set of lyrics in roman letters and the band members
sing from those music sheets, according to Salvador Mas, who composes the melodies.

The original lyrics to one of their songs, titled "The Eternal Freshman"
(远的初学者), start off: "Abro los ojos hoy en un lugar que desconozco,
Me lanzaré de nuevo a la vida" (I open my eyes today in a place I
don't know, and I throw myself again into life).
Riba freely translated the lyrics into
Chinese pinyin for the band's music sheet, not word for word, but to
catch the gist or feeling of the words, as: as "wǒ zài yī gè xīn de
dìfāng wǒhěn xiǎng tànsuǒ, nà er yǒu yī xiē xīn de héliú wǒ xiǎng
chàngyóu" (我在一个新的地方我很想探索, 那儿有一些新的河流我想畅游).
"The meaning of that song is about the human desire to find or do something new
every day," Mas told the Taipei Times in a recent email interview. "We wanted to
talk about discovering new things and not being bored in a boring
office job or something every day. Try to change your life to make

your dreams come true, despite of the risk of change."

The band members -- Salvador Mas on guitar, Guillem Oms on guitar,
Jordi Riba as the main vocalist, Marcel Batalle on drums, Oriol
Serrano on keyboard, and
Pepe Zamora on bass --
hatched this dream of singing in Chinese a few years ago, and they
hope to get some gigs in Taiwan and China, if luck is with them and
they catch the attention of music promoters or festival organizers

So far they've played more that 20 gigs in Barcelona and Madrid with Chinese lyrics for the Confucius Institute , the Tranlation University and some Chinese New Year parties.
The band plays on.

"There were Taiwanese people in the audience then, and there were also
people from Hong Kong and China," Mas said. "The reaction was
positive, so we want to keep our dream alive."
The bandmates are not about the quit their day jobs anytime soon, but
they plan to keep plugging their dream of performing in Chinese in
Chinese-speaking countries like Taiwan or China.
To make ends meet and
earn a living, the six men in their 30s work at a variety of jobs, Mas
"Jordi teaches English and Chinese to kids here, Pepe is a
sociologist, Guillem is a street musician, Oriol works as a soud
engineer for a music studio, Marcel teaches percussion at a music
school and has a side gig repairing drums, and I am an economist," Mas

When asked how this concept began, Mas said that a good friend came to one of their rehearsal sessions and asked Riba to translate one of their new Spanish songs into Chinese.
Jordi, who has

studied Chinese and teaches it to children in Barcelona, had the idea
one day during a practice session to try to translate some of the
band's original lyrics, which they normally sing in Spanish, into
Chinese and see if they could sing some songs in a foreign language,
just for fun, as a kind of musical experiment.
"We were amazed at the results of the translation, and we liked the
way Chinese words sound when sung, with their tone and melodious
qualities, so we decided to go for it and try to make this project
work," Mas said.
When asked what the band's name means, Mas didn't miss a beat.
"Well, we took the name from the lyrics of a Rolling Stones song,
'Jumping Jack Flash,' you know -- 'I was born in a cross-fire hurricane,
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right. I'm Jumpin Jack Flash,
It's a gas! gas! gas!'
-- and we all
thought it was funny. And yes we capitalize the name, all three
For Josh Edbrooke of the British band Transition, which spent time in Taiwan a few years ago and sings some of their in Chinese, too, GAS is worth watching since they care enough about Chinese lyrics to want to create music and songs in that language, he told this reporter.

"My advice to GAS would be to immerse themselves in as much Chinese culture as they can, and not just language," he said. "Food, films, and of course, music will help to enrich their musical style as well as lyrics."

"Back before any Transition members could speak much Chinese, we went to the Spring Scream festival in south Taiwan," he said. "We were inspired by the other bands and the whole indie music scene in Taiwan and this influenced our music a lot, even before we started to write songs in Chinese.
I'd really recommend GAS to look up some Taiwanese indie bands for inspiration, from Tizzy Bac to Fire Ex."

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