A New Zealand er’ s Bilingual Music Journey
Laurence Larson ( Chinese name Luo Yiheng, meaning “eternal art” in Chinese), the brilliant “Prince of the Elves” before his audience, seems like a shy “boy next door” when he steps off the stage. When meeting the reporter, he tried his best to express himself in Chinese, occasionally switching to English. “New Zealand is my hometown, but China is where my dream started.” His sincere love for China can be perceived.
Born in eastern Auckland, New Zealand, Laurence has had a sea of Chinese friends since childhood. At the age of ten, he fell in love with the guitar, and naturally took it up as his major at university. When it came time to select a minor subject, he thought of his Chinese friends. “When my friends got together and I was the only foreigner, they would chat in Chinese… I often had no idea what they were talking about, so I thought I should learn a little bit.”
A coincidence led him to combine his music dream with China. “My friend’s mother was a singing teacher and once a guest at a singing contest in Auckland. She invited me to participate in the competition and sang Chinese songs, out of the blue. I lost my heart to those songs immediately.”
In Laurence’s eyes, Western music pays the most attention to rhythm while oriental music attaches more importance to melody and lyrics. In addition, when the language and melody of Chinese songs are integrated, there is a special beauty. While preparing for the contest, Laurence listened to and studied Chinese songs attentively and began his music journey between the two languages.
From then on, he translated English songs into Chinese and vice versa, and uploaded his own versions to the internet. His songs attracted fans from all over the world.
Like many foreigners in China, Laurence came across plenty of difficulties at the beginning of his trip. The hardest part was still the language barrier. “At first, it was totally impossible for me to communicate with others.”
“You can’t be afraid of embarrassment when learning a new language. You just have to feel the awkwardness.” Gone are those days. Now Laurence has already learned to laugh at embarrassment.
Surrounded by Chinese friends, he has completely forgotten that he is from another country, and he is fascinated by Chinese diet, culture and lifestyle.
In 2016, Laurence participated in the competition of the TV program SingMySong and was in the top six in Liu Huan’s group, successfully attaining thousands of fans. When asked about his international success, he smiles and says, “Music is the most honest language we have, so use your music to share your story, and don’t try something just to be a star or be on the stage. Don’t worry about competing with other people; do what you want to do.”
In November 2017, Laurence came to Wuhan as a representative to celebrate New Zealand Culture Week, bringing the song “Rewi” he wrote for Rewi Alley. He hoped that, like Rewi, he could also become a bridge of cultural exchanges between China and New Zealand.