Simple and True: Song Dongye, China’s Viral Bard, Brings His Plain-Spoken Songs to the US
Song Dongye, a mild-mannered but forthright singer-songwriter from Beijing, made a huge (and hugely unexpected) splash several years ago, as his song “Ms. Dong” went viral in China. It propelled him to unanticipated fame, an indie record deal, and a professional career. Now he’s returning to the US, looking to share his songs with America-based fans and new audiences. Song will embark on a US tour this April, 2018.
Song is the plain-spoken, straight-shooting type of songwriter often associated with folk music, deeply emotional yet delivering his impressions without drama’s taint. Song has intuitively grasped the nature of folk songwriting, while making its outspokenness and bittersweetness distinctly his own.
A self-taught musician and writer, he writes what he thinks, plays what he hears, with sounds that extend beyond the typical indie-folk palette, into the timbral riches of China’s traditional instruments. The erhu and yangchin may pop up between strums of guitar, and scenes specific to Beijing life (the Anheqiao Bridge North neighborhood of his boyhood) intertwine with universal feelings and experiences.
“My music is rather simple in form,” says Song. “I haven’t studied song composing and arrangement. All the ideas I got from years of trying and practicing. Maybe it’s just the idea popped out at the right time, and I thought, ‘Hey this sounds cool’ and then I’ll use it. I like to make changes to my old stuff, so lot of things about my songs are determined by time and my mind at the very moment.”
“Song Dongye is not a ceremonial type--but for 40 minutes he beamed out the same convincing underdog stolidity of his famous song. The Chinese listeners got him entirely…” --New York Times