alan CDJournal Interview – Kuon no Kawa

by sljinu on April 12, 2009 · 10 comments · AddThis

Kuon no Kawa Promotional Picture

This article is translated from an interview done with alan by CDJournal.
Translation by sljinu

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CD Journal: You’ve been playing the traditional Chinese instrument, erhu, from quite a young age. You now play at a national level at the People’s Liberation Army’s Art and Performance Academy and also study vocals, opera and classics at a highly advanced level. At the same time, you play the music of your homeland. You perform a diverse range of music and your recently released album, Voice of EARTH, clearly reflects that fact.

alan: Even though there are a lot of ballads, there’s also some world music and some very pop songs too. I also composed my first song, Together and I’m very satisfied with it. Of course, there are parts of the album where I feel I could improve upon but it has only been about a year and a half since my debut so it feels quite good.


CD Journal: I definitely feel you achieved that global sound and your vocals also sound very expressive. These songs are fundamentally about peace and love.

alan: Before I even debuted, I had a meeting with the directors and general staff. When they asked me “What kind of songs do you want to sing?” I replied “Songs about peace and love,”. I chose this because those two things are the most important things in the world and I want to continue spreading this message through my music.


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CD Journal: Your passion for these principles are also evident in your new single, Kuon no Kawa. I hear it is being used as the theme song to Red Cliff Part II, and just as the title suggests, it is quite a magnificent ballad.

alan: I felt really honoured that I was selected again to sing the theme song to the second movie. I believe that Kuon no Kawa is actually even stronger and deeper than RED CLIFF ~shin・sen~ is. The themes for this song are love, faith and the strength to endure. I sang this song in such a way that I could really get these themes across to the listener.


It is because of the wars that have occurred over and over again, we realise that the present as we know it has come about due to the people and events of the past. The song certainly depicts the image of eternity and the your vocals were very enticing. Due to your intimacy with the story, your understanding and interpretation of the lyrics are also very assured.

alan: There’s this section in the lyrics where it says “Talking about the ancient poem/leaves an impression on the wall,” and thought it felt a bit like it was us just casually talking about the past. Past wars were fought like this (mimes an archer) and instead of communicating through phones, they would use carrier pigeons and I feel that there are plenty of things to learn from that.


CD Journal: Furthermore, what are your thoughts on the lyrics “Please explain to me; why these destinies conflict”?

alan: I’ve also wondered, why do wars exist and I’ve discussed it with others, many times too. In the end, I feel it’s due to the love that opposes your family. Like, if you don’t go and fight then your enemies may come instead. So in order to protect your family, you must fight.


Kuon No Kawa Cover

CD Journal: It seems that John Woo was supervising the recording process and once again, gave you advice regarding your vocal expressions, particularly about the last phrase “Should everything be a dream/then let us live that path/that’s far, far away”.

alan: At first, I sang this song in a really melancholy and lonely way. The reason was that the music was used in a scene where the main characters part ways. However, John Woo said that the scene wasn’t sad and that there was the feeling of hope that they would meet each other again. That’s why I sang it in a brighter manner. John Woo goes over everything himself, even the theme song, so I think he’s quite amazing.


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CD Journal: The Chinese version of Kuon no Kawa, Chi Bi ~Da Jiang Dong Qu~ was also recorded and used as a coupling track. The lyrics for this are a reconstruction of the poem Chibifu, composed by the legendary 11th century poet, Su Shi. Chibifu is a poem renown throughout all of China but I can’t think of anyone else capable of singing these lyrics besides you. You depict particularly unique expressions that nobody else can render, and it is also no exaggeration to describe your music as completely universal. To be able to combine those two traits together so naturally is a testament to the amazing talent that you have. It has also been a year and a half since your debut. You introduced this new form of individuality that has never been seen before in the J-pop industry. Due to the depth of your ability and musical nature, I feel that you have begun to advance into a new style of music.

alan: I received a lot of requests for an up-tempo song particularly from those who listened to my album. I definitely have a lot of ballads and when I’m in China, I study a lot of classical Chinese music too so I don’t have much experience with fast paced songs. However, I also want to sing a wider variety of songs too, in order to expand my repertoire. So because of that, I’m listening to a lot of J-pop to learn more about it.


CD Journal: You also said it yourself that you wished to compose your own music and if possible, demonstrate your dancing as well. Finally, while you are still studying music at the People’s Liberation Army’s Art and Performance Academy, you are still continuing your musical activities in Japan. What is that like?

alan: To be an artist while studying at the same time is quite a coincidence. Of course, part of it is because I studied really hard but to have been able to study at the Military Academy and also partake in the audition for Avex; I feel a lot of it was luck. I also feel that way to have been chosen to sing the theme song for Red Cliff. However, to have been given such grand opportunities also means I will be presented with even greater challenges in the future. I want to prepare myself for those upcoming moments and continue on beyond all those challenges.


CD Journal: Red Cliff Part II –The Final Battle for the Future-’s climatic scene is when the battle at Red Cliff actually occurs. The Yangtze made for a grand and dynamic stage for the fight scene and you even said it yourself that it made quite a strong impression on you.

Red Cliff Movie Promotional Picture

alan: Part II certainly has a lot more fight scenes than Part I does. There are also scenes one might find a bit scary but it was very intense. There are also a lot of moving scenes. In Part I, Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang met and a lot of other characters were introduced. This time it is the opposite where the film is centred around the theme of ‘separation’. However, it is not really a sad or lonely thing. John Woo told me while I was recording Kuon no Kawa that there was also the concept of hope in this idea.


CD Journal: Sun Shangxiang’s episode also seems to have deeply moved you.

alan: She disguises herself as a male and infiltrates Cao Cao’s army but she also befriends one soldier there. That soldier thinks Shangxiang is a man but I think Shangxiang liked him. It’s that mix of friendship and love that makes it a really painful scene.


CD Journal: You know a lot about that story but you also said that you think the people during those times looked really cool. Out of the male cast that appear in the film, which one are you the most interested in?

alan: Mmm…Zhou Yu, I suppose. First of all, he’s really nice to his wife, Xiao Qiao. He can also perform music and he is able to recite poems. He seems really wise because of that. Zhuge Liang also seems really cool but because he’s so overly intelligent, if he were to be my boyfriend then I think that may be a little troublesome for me (laughs).


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CD Journal: Red Cliff ~shin・sen~ was used as the theme song for Part I and Kuon no Kawa for Part II. To have sung the theme songs for such a huge production must definitely have been a major milestone for your career.

alan: When I sang the theme song to Part I, it had only been around three months since my debut. I’m extremely grateful to have been selected out of a large range of artists. I was also really emotional when I listened to Kuon no Kawa during the credits. It feels really different to listening to it on a CD so I’d really love everyone to share that same experience with me.

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About the author

sljinu is a hybrid Asian. He is currently employed by the geekmaster eyn, working as a translator. He has time management issues but still finds precious minutes to listen to his beloved Utada Hikaru and Otsuka Ai as well as watch J-drama (among other things) on the train.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

bestcritic September 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

I liked the audio samples a lot. Red Cliff, Ashita e no sanka and kuon no kawa are the best songs till not from alan in my opinion. I hope she continues releasing great songs in the future. Thank you for the audio and translation.


dizziz FRANCE May 21, 2010 at 9:03 am

Good afternoon, sljinu,
Thank you very much for this translation. I’d just like to understand a detail better : in her first reply, alan mentions this line of the song 古の詩を語る壁の跡に that you translated with “Talking about the ancient poem/leaves an impression on the wall”. So I assume that you guessed the implied part : “to leave an impression”. But could you tell me what makes think so ? I’m doing my own translation of the song into French (my language) and would like to get the meaning of the song more precisely. Of course, I won’t harass you with my questions (there won’t be others); it’s just that this part seriously attracted my attention. It looks odd that she implied such a part of the sentence, doesn’t it ? Although I’m not a native, I think it has to be very hard to guess it for everyone.
Thank you in advance.


sljinu August 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

Hi dizziz, sorry it took so long to get back to you. To be honest, I haven’t translated anything in a long time and my Japanese has become rather rusty. Compound that with the fact that I honestly cannot remember anything about how I translated that interview, I really am unable to help you there. Perhaps you could find another opinion if you feel like challenging the translation? There are no hard feelings =)


Allan C. Fleming August 14, 2009 at 11:39 am

Great work! With your translation the interpretation and sensitivity of your work Alan, it truly shows that you are indeed a highly gifted artist.
I am honoured to now be your Canadan fan! I wish you every success in the future.
Allan Fleming in Nova Scotia, Canada


Nanda August 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Thank you for the translation. It’s always nice to hear more things about alan. Thanks again for being nice to do this ^^


Crystallas GERMANY May 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

Thank you for the translation! Good Job, I enjoyed reading it. It’s nice to know the thoughts of alan ^-^


remblue April 15, 2009 at 11:41 pm

!! Sweet <3

You translated ^_^ Thank you so much, alan talks alot about Red Cliff, quite interesting, the part where she mentions “if he were to be my boyfriend then I think that may be a little troublesome for me (laughs)” that’s quite funny ^O^


sljinu AUSTRALIA April 16, 2009 at 5:10 am

Haha yeah, I had to laugh when I read that too. And about Red Cliff…the last few questions were actually part of a questionnaire thingo on the 3rd page of the interview whereas the rest was all on the first page. I was originally going to omit it but I realised the interview felt a little short and it wasn’t really difficult (plus there were some funny bits) so I’m also glad I didn’t leave it out.


bleach1st AUSTRALIA April 13, 2009 at 1:40 am

thanks for the translation :D I enjoyed reading it!


sljinu AUSTRALIA April 13, 2009 at 3:59 am

Glad you enjoyed it! =D


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