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Strawberry Music Festival bears fruit in summer

2014-04-28 14:36 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan
Maggie Cheung will take the stage a in Beijing and Shanghai, performings a singer-songwriter for the first time songs she wrote herself with her band. Photos provided to China Daily

Maggie Cheung will take the stage a in Beijing and Shanghai, performings a singer-songwriter for the first time songs she wrote herself with her band. Photos provided to China Daily

Unlike the Midi Music Festival-the country's oldest outdoor music bash, which is known for its serious reputation among Beijing's hard rock, metal and punk lovers-the annual Strawberry Music Festival has been a popular gathering place for trendy young music fans.

In its fifth year, the three-day outdoor music event will continue offering a feast for audiences with over 100 bands and singers from around the world. It will be headlined by French electronic music duo Justice, American post-rock band Explosions in the Sky and a collection of Chinese indie bands. The festival will also expand into nine cities around China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xi'an and Xiamen.

However, what makes this year's Strawberry Music Festival special is Maggie Cheung, the Hong Kong award-winning film actress, who will perform as a singer-songwriter for the first time in Beijing and Shanghai, with her four-piece band.

The actress, who has starred in director Zhang Yimou's martial arts movie Hero and Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love, has long been retired from the limelight after she won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in director Olivier Assayas's movie, Clean. Since then she has shifted to film editing, music and painting.

Modern Sky, the country's largest indie record company, which inaugurated the festival in Beijing in 2009, announced its record deal with the 50-year-old actress this March.

The cooperation started from Cheung's interests in the songs of 26-year-old Song Dongye, an indie singer-songwriter under the label, who rose to fame online for his song, Miss Dong.

"I got a phone call from Maggie and she invited me to write songs for her," recalls Song, who is known for his smoothing folk music.

"I couldn't believe it until we met and had dinner together in a hot pot restaurant in Beijing. I didn't know she could sing until I heard her singing in the studio. Her voice is very special and is easily remembered. We finished our first song together at her home in Beijing."

Song introduced Cheung to his boss Shen Lihui, who founded the Beijing-based label and promoter Modern Sky in 1997, and soon they signed the record deal.

"She is fully prepared as a singer-songwriter. She's not just playing for fun," says Shen, who was the former front man of rock band, Sober.

"We talked about her music ideas, and it's really surprising that she has a clear plan for her music career."

According to Shen, Cheung has composed and written 16 English songs and has been preparing for her debut performance at the Strawberry Music Festival for months.

"She likes music with a little bit darkness and electronic elements, which match well with her voice. She is full of imagination about her music, and she is all about rejuvenation these days," Shen says.

"Of course, signing one of China's biggest movie stars really surprised us. But as we've been working together, we've become more like friends. She is very sincere and easygoing."

Cheung also said in the statement that she has had a passion for music since she was born.

"I've been an actress for many years, but I never stop listening to music. I love to find different types of music and I hope I can share my feelings with fans through my music."

In the movie Clean (debuted in 2004 in France), as part of her portrayal of a recovering drug addict and aspiring singer, Cheung performed songs written by David Roback of Mazzy Star and Dean Wareham of Dean & Britta.

In 2012, she sang a song she wrote herself, Visionary Heart, at an event in Beijing.

Raised in England and Hong Kong, she has over 70 films to her credit since starting her career in 1983.

In 2007, she moved to Beijing with her boyfriend, German architect Ole Scheeren, and they broke up in 2012. The relationship has enabled Cheung to have a life in the capital, where fans spot her on the subway and in restaurants.


Strawberry Music Festival takes place at Tongzhou Park May 1-3 in Beijing

Tickets are 230 yuan per day, 180 yuan presale and 480 yuan for three days presale. Take subway Line 1 to Guomao and then take bus Line 938 (Route 9), 667 or 808 to Dongguan Daqiao. 400-818-3333, 400-622-8228.

Strawberry Music Festival takes place at Expo Park May 1-3 in Shanghai

Tickets are 260 yuan per day, 180 yuan presale and 480 yuan for three days presale. Near Changqingbei Lu (Road), Pudong New Area. 400-818-3333, 400-622-8228.

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