If you turn on the radio in Taiwan to most pop and rock stations, the music is much of a muchness. That’s why my discovery of Taiwanese rock-pop-folk band, Sodagreen, last year was so exciting for me. Difficult to put their music in any one category, as they’re influenced by so many diverse styles, it’s not only their music that’s so amazing – their videos are incredibly beautiful too. Every song has a haunting melody and, even though sung in Chinese, you just know the words are beautiful.
Sodagreen is a six-member band that became hugely popular in Taiwan and much of the rest of Asia after they entered the Hohaiyan Gongliau Rock Festival in 2004 and walked away with the Grand Jury Award. Band members are lead singer, Wu Qing Feng (who also goes by the nickname ‘Greeny’), Shin-Yi Shie (Claire) who plays bass, Jia-Kai Liou (nickname ‘Kay’) on electric guitar, Jing-Yang Ho (A-Fu) on acoustic guitar, Yu-Chi Gong (Zephyr) who plays keyboard and viola, and Jyun-Wei Shih (Wei), the drummer.
All the members are wonderfully talented but it’s really Wu Qing Feng (Greeny), the singer and songwriter, who has given the band it’s distinctive sound.
When you listen to your first Sodagreen song, you’re not sure about it – is the lead singer a man or a woman? Then you watch the video and, depending on the video, that doesn’t help a lot either. Wu Qing Feng is a slight, small, androgenous Taiwanese man with the most delicate features and soft, ethereal voice. Sounding like a masculine woman or a feminine man, whichever way you want to look at it, by the second listen, any Sodagreen song simply captures your heart and Wu Qing Feng’s voice your soul.
Sodagreen currently has six albums out. The first album, released in 2005 was entitled simply ‘Sodagreen’ and features true gems like ‘Too Late for Regrets’ and ‘Floating’. All songs and titles are in Chinese but that, to me, just adds to the mystery and loveliness of the music. With influences as wide as Chinese pop, Spanish flamenco, American folk and Japanese rock, Sodagreen really is difficult to get a handle on – and that’s part of the fun.
Their second album, released a year later includes my favorite Sodagreen song ‘Little Love Song’ (see here for the most beautiful video), which I played 100 times when I first heard. This song also won the Best Melody Award at the 18th Golden Melody Awards in Taipei, and Sodagreen the Best Band award, which they also won again a year later.
Later albums are ‘Incomparable Beauty’, ‘Sing With Me’, ‘Spring:Sunlight’, and their latest album, produced in England, ‘Summer/Fever’ was released in late 2009. Every album one has different influences than the one before, as Sodagreen builds on what they already do and makes it even better.
If you’re looking for independent music with a different sound, haunting music and lyrics you’ll never understand but just know they’re lovely, give Sodagreen a try. The videos listed below are a perfect place to start.
Little Love Song – Sodagreen (You Tube) – stunning melody
Little Universe – Sodagreen (You Tube) – more rock and a harder beat
Oh Oh Oh – Sodagreen (You Tube) – such a great Spanish beat
Summer Summer – Sodagreen (You Tube) – fun sound, great video
Bei Zhe Ni (Carrying You) – Sodagreen (You Tube) – beautifully photographed video and such a beautiful sad song