French musical ride rolls through 13 Chinese cities

Updated: 2013-03-08 12:30

By Ji Xiang (China Daily)

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Francophiles of China, unite - the sixth edition of the Mars en Folie Festival is rolling through China for 40 free shows in 18 days this month.

From March 6-23, four bands from Canada, France, Belgium and Switzerland will play their eclectic music - from indie folk, French pop and reggae - in 13 Chinese cities.

The music festival is part of the 18th Fete de la Francophonie en Chine, an annual event to celebrate the French culture held only in China. This year, the musical adventure was put together through the combined efforts of the network of Alliances Francaises, the embassies of Canada, Switzerland and Belgium/Wallonia-Brussels delegation, as well as the Quebec offices in China.

The musicians, most of whom are young men and women, said this year's event is especially tailored for Chinese youth. The four bands are Klo Pelgag from Quebec, Canada; Benjamin Schoos & Sophie Galet from Belgium; Les Mauvaises Langues; and Junior Tshaka from Switzerland.

Klo Pelgag, an indie folk rocker, says her music carries messages from her home of Quebec. Her songs are admittedly somber and poetic.

"The feeling of sadness in the songs reflects a deep corner in the heart," Pelgag said. "Many people share this phenomenon so very naturally I bring such emotion to my works. My songs present to the audience pictures with which one's inner feelings echo; at the same time, I wish to move people to somewhere else via my voice."

Palgag said she hopes that the journey this month through China "will be a special experience for me".

"The music I bring is very typical of Quebec," she said, "and I will make an effort to try more Chinese food."

Benjamin Schoos and Sophie Galet bring their French pop with the energy of Belgium. Schoos said his active posturing and gestures while he performs in shows originates from his love of Chinese kungfu movies.

"So I am rich in movements," Schoos said.

Ultimately, he hopes that the tour brings him opportunities to interact with Chinese musicians.

"For example, this time we will have cooperation with a Chinese musician who plays the erhu (a two-stringed bowed musical instrument). This is part of our expectations for our China tour, " he says.

Les Mauvaises Langues consists of five Frenchmen, with each of their styles somewhat defined by their instruments. Their performances have been characterized as inspirational and free-wheeling. In 2010, their Open Air album was recorded outdoors.

Having visited the Forbidden City in Beijing, they said they would like to record an album across twelve capitals in different countries. Though the Les Mauvaises Langues members said they didn't prepare any special songs for the China tour, they promise to offer something special during their performances, including speaking Chinese.

Switzerland's Junior Tshaka is a charismatic artist who performs a militant kind of reggae, according to the organizers. His lyrics may be simple but they are mainly about his concern for the planet's future. His songs are of humanity and for the first time in China, he will present works from his latest album.

"I think of my first visit to China as a chance to reread it by myself, not dwelling on what was already told about this country," he said. "I would like to get stuck in the interaction with local musicians and audience and to get inspiration from them. I will later travel to many parts of China and I am sure each visit will offer me reflection," he said.

His songs are also about love, respect and freedom. He hopes that this time in China, concert goers will share his love of reggae, French chansons (a kind of lyric-driven French song) and his vision of the world - critical, harsh and realistic, but full of hope.

(China Daily 03/08/2013 page2)