Cui Jian

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Cui Jian in 2007

Cui Jian (born August 2, 1961) is a Chinese singer-songwriter, trumpeter and guitarist of Korean descent. For his pioneering of Chinese rock, he is often labeled "The Father of Chinese Rock".


  • We were constantly testing to see how far we could go, testing the aesthetic limits of society, and those of the old cadres too. We felt that if we couldn’t upset them, we weren’t doing it right. We’d be like, really? You’re upset at such a little thing? On the other hand. Every so often, we didn’t get a reaction and we’d be surprised at our luck.
  • I think that music festivals, clubs, and record companies can really change the Chinese music scene, but I believe there is no festival or record company doing a good job in China. I think the Chinese listening culture is more viewing-like. Everybody takes care of how he/she looks like. They don't care about what they sound like. It could be pretty bad, but there is hope.

Interview with CNN (2012)


"Interview with Musician and "Godfather of Chinese Rock and Roll", Cui Jian" in CNN (3 August 2012)

  • When I'm holding a guitar, I got a little more confident. You know, actually, before that, I would say I was a shy guy. You know, I was trying to looking for some better way. And then finally, I found a guitar and I really can sing. And people give more attention on me and I thought, "OK, this is the thing I will do forever".
  • I want to give a serious message in the pop music. Right now, I think most of the rock and roll music - they just don't want touch this. You know, they think this is not fashion anymore. And that the young people will think this not cool. I think this a part of rock and roll music - good melody, good energy, and good message.
  • I think the biggest enemy in this country is the corruption. I think everybody will - now they learn it.
  • I like Hip-Hop music. I like electronic music. I like, you know - I can get a lot of energies from the young people.
  • For the young people now, the going to the concert or the going to follow some big stars - unfortunately, now, you know, they don't want message anymore. They want be a part of economic developing. They don't care about message now.

Interview with VICE (2016)


"Fuck Confucius" in VICE (2016)

  • If you’re singing and writing lyrics in Chinese, then you’re making Chinese music. You have your own story and you try to tell your own feelings, which are different from older generations’—different from the revolution. We were the first generation to try and express our own feelings. You can say this is Western, but I would say it’s human. Anyways, it doesn’t matter. I’m playing rock music and I’m singing in Chinese. That’s it.
  • My generation was born in the early 60s or a few years earlier. My parents’ generation carried guns and gained control of the country. We’re the first generation under them, so we call ourselves the revolution’s generation.
  • Talking about capitalism and communism isn’t really important or relevant anymore. Money isn’t proof that capitalism is right — money is money. Nobody really cares about these concepts, not even the government. They’re all just tools. I do think people of this generation talk more about control, education, the environment. Nobody talks about capitalism or socialism anymore though. It’s all mixed up together.
  • Fear is part of the culture of this country and has been for the past 50 years. But in America everyone is fearful too, just for different reasons. Maybe now it’s the same everywhere. Anyways, I may be afraid, but I usually try to answer questions without putting myself in danger. I just don’t want to lie. Journalists always expect me to answer that black is black or white is white, but if you get to know China you’ll understand that no one answer is ever right. It’s all gray.

About Cui Jian

  • I can't think of someone who has ever been more worthy than Cui Jian for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's Woody Guthrie or Bruce Springsteen, whose songs made people suddenly realize that there are things going on about which we don't know and ought to, and singing with the voice of the people not often represented in popular culture.
  • His lyrics evoked alienation, a craving for personal freedom and sexual desire. His voice was a deep bass growl, the likes of which few outside the tiny, nascent Beijing rock scene had ever heard.
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