Interview with Liljay Chen, the founder of Inland Rock/ To satirize “inland” with real actions ─ the most willful music festival ever


Inland Rock


A few years ago, a friend told Liljay Chen(陳威仲), the founder of Inland Rock that he was going to perform in inland.  Hearing this, Liljay Chen laughed and said “Inland?  If I found Inland Rock, you have to be there!”  Now, the Inland Rock hosted by him will be held on Sep 19th.  The joke he has made at that time is becoming real.  The only difference is that for Liljay Chen, inland is not in China, but in “Nantou”(南投) in Taiwan.

◎ Make the word “Inland” well-known.

For most people in Taiwan, “inland” is a pronoun for China.  However, Liljay Chen, who is a member of the alternative band, Kou Chou Ching(拷秋勤)and has been very active in social movements, hopes to challenge our common sense by holding a music festival called “Inland Rock” in Nantou.  He wants to show Taiwanese that Nantou, though seems quite far away and has been one of Chinese tourists’ favorite cities, is the real inland of Taiwan.  The main goal of the music festival is to make the word “Inland” well-known and to make others see Nantou all over again.

From Liljay Chen’s point of view, it’s the right time to host the music festival.  “There were some student movements last year and more and more people were discussing about local consciousness, making me feel that we’re not alone.”  He thinks that it’s time to put the lyrics “The inland of Taiwan is Nantou” sung by the hip hop singer Dwagie(大支)into practice.  The lyrics are from the song Lan Ba Ci(蘭芭詞)

▼Dwagie's 'Lan Ba Ci'

◎ The biggest problem is that the funds are never enough.

Last November, they began looking for the place to host the music festival and started the preparatory work.  There are actually only two members at Radicalization(激進), the workshop which is in charge of the music festival.  Kevin takes responsible for keeping financial accounts in Taichung and Liljay Chen is in charge of looking for financial support, shooting commercials and marketing.

Liljay Chen sees this music festival to include performance, market, culture activities and a series of events, which will also promote the local tourism industry and Puli(埔里).  Because of this, he hopes to get support from local stores as well, but not many stores are willing to invest in the festival.  The storekeepers of the older generations still have some doubts about music festivals; as for the few storekeepers who are willing to invest in the festival, they mostly don’t want to be named because of the controversial issue.  Liljay Chen mentions “The ones with wealth and power don’t want to invest in the activities.  The young people coming back to their hometown are really willing to help, but there’s not much they can do.  This is our biggest problem.  The funds are never enough.”

◎ Being banned is being nominated; being nominated is being banned.

Choosing the performers is the highlight of holding the music festival.  Liljay Chen does this by his own logic.  He says “At the beginning, we were more naïve and romantic and we wanted to find some bands who are banned by China.  We wonder why we can only be the victims of the censorship in China, but not the ones who have the guts to ban them.”  They even made a list called “Being banned is being nominated; being nominated is being banned”, which includes Dwagie、Loh Tsui Kweh Commune(濁水溪公社)、Bloody Tyrant(暴君)and other singers and bands which pay much attention to local consciousness.

▼Bloody Tyrant's Final Battle of Sun-Moon Lake

◎It is a war of ideologies.

From Liljay Chen’s point of view,the music festival is only a war of ideologies.“What if we fail?  Then China really becomes the inland of Taiwan.  We are indeed the fools who are good at self-entertaining.  The netizens say our outlook is so limited that we’re like the frogs at the bottom of the wells.  Yes, we’rejust like that.”

What if they succeed?

Liljay Chen also has his own ideas.  “Let’s hold our own Spring Festival Gala and The Voice of Taiwan.  Let’s do some placement marketing as well.  Actually we’re just holding some Kuso activities and making fun of ourselves since there’s no market for us.  I think we’re building a new road for others.  I hope we can be the footstone for someone choosing the same way, but of course we don’t want to lose too much money at the same time.”