Finding Harmony Between Tradition and Modernity – The Story of Huayina, a Zhuang Folk Band from Guangxi

  In this year’s return of the music variety show “Summer of the Band 3” (hereinafter referred to as “Le Xia”), Huayina, a Zhuang band that uses hoes and leaves as musical instruments, uses vibrant performances and fresh and simple music style to Gain outside attention.
  The band’s lead singer Banong, guitarist Shiba, and percussionist Lu Min are all from Guangxi. “Waina” is a Zhuang language, which means “field with fragrant rice flowers”.
  Music blogger Erdi commented that Wayna’s performance “naturally interprets what is called ‘vitality'”; music critic Yang Bo described Wayna’s music as “like fish swimming through the water, or rain falling from the sky.” “Falling Down”, its sincerity and purity are like “returning to the light” in the current era; Lajiadu, the manager of Sound Republic Livehouse, firmly believes that Wayna’s music reiterates to us that “the root power is another kind of deep brilliance”.
  In the barrage of Le Xia’s show, someone said, “The eyes of the three of them are really pure.” In the colorful variety show, Vaina made the audience feel the power of tranquility for the first time in a long time. On March 13 this year, the ticket price for Waina’s performance was 31.3 yuan based on the peasant-style humor of “watching the sky and eating”; now, it has been well known by music fans all over the country, and their performances have become hard to get tickets for.
  Coming to a bigger stage and receiving more love, Wayna also suffered more misunderstandings.
  Some people understand Wayna as a “peasant band”, while others question that Wayna is not actually a real farmer.
  So, what is Vaina like? Where does their vitality come from?
  On August 30, reporters from Nanfengchuang came to Nandan, the hometown of Banong, the founder of Waina Band. There, I touched the land that raised Wayna and listened to the stories that belonged to Wayna.
  This band, which came from the land and returned to the land, searched between the city and the countryside, finding a glimmer of hope for a poetic life.
“The food must be eaten”

  Chekhov wrote in “Gooseberry”: “You know, as long as a person has fished for a bass once in his life, or has seen a thrush flying south once in the autumn, he has watched them fly in groups over the village on a clear and cool day. , then he can no longer be a city dweller, and he will long for a free life until his death.”
  Banong’s experience is almost an annotation of this sentence.
  After passing Liuzhou and heading west again, the reporter arrived at Nandan, a small town on the border of Guizhou and Guangxi, which is the hometown of Banong, the founder of Wayina Band.
  Since 2012, Banong has been farming, meeting friends, and creating in the mountains outside Nandan. He calls this kind of life “lowering the land, raising the head to sing.” He said that the traditional Chinese character “Nong” itself has the prefix “qu”, and singing is the nature of farmers. “Ba” means Stone Mountain in Guangxi, and “Ba Nong” is a farmer in the mountains of Guangxi who sings while farming.
  After the reporter from Nanfengchuang came to Nandan County, he still needed Banong to lead the way to find his residence, “Natian Farmhouse.” On the afternoon of August 30, Banong picked me up from the city.
  The car was parked under a pergola, and Banong said, this is my parking lot.
  After getting off the bus, he pointed it out to me, and here, there are a few passion fruits on it. A few gray fruits fell on the ground, which were ripe.
  The “parking lot” was still a little far away from his small house. I followed him, stepping on the dirt with one foot deep and one shallow, listening to his explanation all the way.
  The one with wide and long leaves on the left is turmeric. Pick the leaves and break them and smell them. It has the aroma of ginger. The plant on the right is lemongrass, a spice commonly used in cooking in the Southwest. Next to it is a clump of water bracken with tiny, cute whiskers. Several varieties of rice are grown in the square rice fields. Ban farmers use this area as a test field to conduct conservation experiments on some old varieties. If they are well planted, they can be expanded to larger fields.
  ”This is pearl rice, this is fragrant rice, this is glutinous rice, black glutinous rice is black, and this rice is green.” Banong opened the husk of the rice and showed me that it was a green rice grain.
  ”But green is very unstable in nature and will change quickly. After it is ripe, it will not be so green.” After Banong finished speaking, he put the grain of rice he had just twisted into his mouth and smiled. : “The food must be eaten.”
  On one side of the rice field, there is a small wooden house with a thatched roof, which is an “ecological toilet” built by Ban Nong. Plant ash is used to absorb moisture from excrement, so it will not attract flies and mosquitoes. After fermentation, the waste becomes fertilizer and flows into farmland.
  Go to the back of the hut and see the bees raised by Banong.
The traditional Chinese character “Nong” itself has the prefix “qu”, and singing is the nature of farmers. “Ba” means Stone Mountain in Guangxi, and “Ba Nong” is a farmer in the mountains of Guangxi who sings while farming.

  Entering the first floor, there is a simple kitchen with a thick iron frame supporting a pot and burning firewood underneath. In the evening, Banong used this primitive pot and stove to make a meal of snail noodles for us, and threw a few duck feet in to stew it. It is said that this is the most authentic way to eat it. There is a long table next door, and further forward is a small stage with several musical instruments stacked up.
  When you come out of the door on the first floor, there are tatami mats and rocking chairs on both sides. A small open space in front of you occasionally hosts some small-scale summer camp activities for elementary school students. Looking further into the distance, you can see a long mountain valley. Banong said that this place is very suitable for moon-viewing, because the moon will rise from the mountain col and the view will be broad.
  He made me tea, washed the fruits, and asked me to sit and wait. After a while, he came out of the house, holding several bags of rice.
  He spread a tent for children to camp on the ground. “It’s very strange. The children here all have to go to the city, but the children in the city come to the countryside to play during the holidays.” “Whoa-whoa-
  ” New rice with rice husks was poured on top, and there were different contents in the bags. Different varieties, “white rice is the staple food, glutinous rice can be used to make wine, and red rice can be used to make porridge.”
  Take advantage of the good sunshine at this moment to dry the newly harvested rice. For farmers, sunshine is as precious as time.
  ”We can talk after I dry the rice, otherwise it will be too late.”
a modern farmer

  ”In weather like today, two days of sunshine may be enough, and then the rice can be stored in the warehouse. This is the principle of farming. If there is too much water, insects will grow, and if it is dry, it can be preserved. Eco-toilets will not be dirty, either. Because plant ash absorbs water.” Since
  childhood, he has been farming with his parents, herding cattle and cutting grass, and the farmers are familiar with all kinds of farm work.
  He learned to work with crops from his parents, but found that although his parents had been farming all their lives, they knew a lot of things but thought very little.
  Why does rice need to be dried to preserve it? Why are the growing seasons of crops different from each other? Why are we still poor despite working hard on the land? At that time, art was still a distant thing, and questioning had already occurred, just like sowing seeds. Only when the runaway children returned to the land would they find the answer.

  Compared to his parents, Banong thinks more about ecological issues. He does not use pesticides, fertilizers, or weeding, and adheres to natural farming methods and a holistic ecological outlook. He built ecological toilets, used enzymes, and conserved old varieties. These attempts were all supported by scientific ideas. When he had spare time, he also provided technical support to his friends’ farms. Without chemical fertilizers, the harvest was still considerable, which many villagers did not believe.
  The Ban farmers who returned home did not return to a simple pastoral state, but tried to find another solution to life in contemporary society. To be a modern farmer, the core is classical and the methods are modern. Therefore, Banong said that he was not living in seclusion in the countryside, but he was doing a lot of things.
  This also affected his expression. Banon likes western movies because he likes to see how others start from scratch in a new world. This gave him a new perspective to reflect on his father’s generation, who built houses and worked hard. As his parents grew older, they felt a sense of loss when facing the land.
  In “Western Dad”, he wrote: “What’s hanging on your
  waist is just a sickle/ what’s on your head is just a straw hat/ what you’re riding is just a buffalo/ what you’ve been working on all your life may not necessarily belong to you when you walk on it On the land.”
  This is not a pastoral hymn.
  Many people misunderstand that Banong’s music is original. In fact, on the contrary, he often puts criticism, doubt, thinking, and struggle that are very close to society and the times in his songs, “just singing it in a happier way.”
  The lyrics of the song “Destruction Curse” are all derived from the chemical formula of pesticides. Banong farmers view the use of pesticides to treat farmland as a violation of the harmonious relationship between man and land.
  ”The Mood of a Free-range Chicken” is a dark sketch in which he writes about the problems of “superstitious experts”. Experts came to the village to instruct everyone on how to raise and feed them. However, before leaving, the experts secretly asked the villagers: “Do you have any free-range chickens for sale?” In “The Train Flies Over My House”, the song “Why do we need to kill them” is repeatedly sung
  . Our tree”. The meaning behind the word “kill” is that everything has animism. Times are moving forward so rapidly, and he wants society to hear the voices behind urban development.
  ”It’s not just criticism that makes people criticize.” Banong has been rooted in rural society for a long time, and he deeply feels that our cultural soil is different from the West where rock music was born. Western punks are cool, but their living environment is independent and urban, while Chinese society is kinship and tribal. “You are holding a guitar, here is your aunt, and over there is your cousin. In this case, it is very strange to have to hold back and make very direct criticism.” So
  Banong just told the story, this is A kind of folk wisdom, he doesn’t bombard anything directly in the song.
  The cost of writing angry songs to express dissatisfaction is that every time you sing it, you become angry again. In many rock songs, the shots are ultimately directed towards oneself. Banong’s original intention in getting into music was to “entertain himself”, so the music he wrote must first make himself happy, and humor can also be a weapon.
  When he was in the city, Banong recalled playing with children in the mountains when he was a child, herding cows, rolling around, and having eggs to eat was like celebrating a festival.
  People who once had this kind of childhood were not sad at heart. Happiness was a toy he lost in the city.
  Before returning home, Banong worked in Guilin for 4 years, lived in Guangzhou for 10 years, and also went to Tianjin to make a living. He had failed in his ambitions, had fallen out of love, and had been disappointed in life, but he found that if these experiences were written into stories and sung, they would have an alienating effect, “as if his life was just a play, like a Stephen Chow movie.”
Banong’s original intention in getting into music was to “entertain himself”, so the music he wrote must first make himself happy, and humor can also be a weapon.

  ”A Mei Wants to Be a City Citizen” tells the story of the differences between a young couple. The man has worked hard in the city for ten years and wants to return to his hometown, build a house and live a rural life; the woman has stayed in the city for ten years and has become accustomed to the prosperity and convenience here and no longer misses the countryside. Although the two people loved each other, they had to separate due to different life choices.
  This is the story of “A Mei”, or it can be the story of anyone.
Half farmer and half singer

  I tried to tease out the context of the formation of Waina’s artistic style from my conversations with Banon. Before that, we must first enter the growth history of this ordinary rural youth in Guangxi.
  We first go back to a time when the dreams of young painters were shattered.
  Banong took out his early publications: records and books. Let’s start with the album covers, both of which were painted by Banong himself. “I have loved painting since I was a child, and my dream is to be a painter.”
  Bannong was born in the late 1970s and graduated from high school. He wanted to study in the Academy of Fine Arts, but failed and went to a college to study fine arts.
  Banong feels that the classmates and teachers around him seem to be just completing the set tasks: students can go home and find jobs after finishing their studies and getting their diplomas; teachers have taught and can get today’s salary after get off work. “It feels like The teacher doesn’t love painting as much as I do.”
  However, at that time, he had already decided that he would paint like Van Gogh for the rest of his life. This frustrated young man accepted a lonely artistic destiny early on. For this reason, he felt that he needed something that could relieve himself and accompany him.
  So he took music as an elective because “when I am lonely, I can sing to myself.”
  A year later, Banong dropped out of school and found a photo studio in Guilin to work as an art editor, studying for exams in his spare time.
  He took the exam for a total of 4 years and always failed to meet the English requirements. In his final year, the Xinjiang Branch of the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, where he wanted to take the exam, canceled its admissions, and the path of becoming an “academic” seemed to have completely closed the door to him.
  But things are also quietly changing.
  During these four years, Banong studied domestic famous artists and read textbooks from famous Western schools. However, when he saw that in the sketching course at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in Russia, it took eight years to paint a plaster statue, he began to doubt: ” Is this really worth it?”
  Another open road gradually opened up in front of Banong. During this period, he was attracted by many art works grown on the land, such as children’s paintings and farmers’ paper-cuts – there was no need for admission to higher education, nor was there any need to waste 8 years on a plaster. Observe, feel, and then Expression, OK, this is folk art.
  Banong said that he had “rebelled”. His interest in folk art basically arose during the years when he failed to pass the exams. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise.
  The guitar, which he used to entertain himself in his free time studying art, also began to flow out earthy music. In the early days, Banong listened to pop songs and wrote some lyrical rock and campus ballads. The work in the photo studio is boring. Banong joked that “working is just a scam.” The lyrics he sings casually are often cynical.
  As he began to appreciate the simplicity and authenticity of folk art, his music began to become casual and relaxed. “Which snail does not stick to the mud” is inspired by local folk songs. It is very “unsophisticated”, but if you listen carefully, there is a bit of self-deprecation and humor of a little person in it, “Which one can’t move forward after falling down”.
  Later, when he moved to Guangzhou to live, Banong’s musical world really opened up. He had good artistic intuition and found ways to apply it only after experiencing broader insights.

  Banong has always felt that big cities are places where you can learn a lot, and there is no conflict between broadening your horizons in the city and returning to the countryside.
  In Guangzhou, he listened to many different types of music, learned about cutting-edge agricultural concepts, came into contact with the latest art in exhibition halls, and went to temples to study Buddhism and Taoism.
  Taiwanese music has the greatest influence on him. Lin Shengxiang, Hu Defu, Chen Jiannian, Wildfire Band, and Betel Brothers have innovated traditional folk music. For example, they mixed elements of blues and world music into local Amis folk songs, which inspired Banong farmers. “You can hear interesting and rich things about their ethnic life from the songs. In fact, we have the Yao, Miao, Dong, and Zhuang people in the mountains, but we don’t have such a modern way to express that richness. , they are just folk songs. I feel it is a pity, because when I was a child, I loved to enjoy the mountains and wilderness. There are beautiful things in life in the mountains, so I especially feel that someone needs to do this.” He found his passion for himself
  . The truly “meaningful” things in life.
  It was during this period that Banon read a book, “The Life of a Half-Peasant, Half-X” by Naoki Shiomi, which made it possible to combine his love for folk art with his desire to escape from the city.
  At the moment of true enlightenment, he felt that he didn’t even need to open the book. “It was enough to understand the four words ‘half farmer and half X'”.

Nandan, Guangxi, three people from Banong rehearse outside the farmhouse

  To understand this term, Banong first explained to me the cost-effectiveness of “small-scale farmer production”: If agricultural products are exchanged for money to purchase other materials, the cost-effectiveness of farming is very low, because agricultural products are sold at very cheap prices; He gives himself the land to eat. A small field can feed a person and “he can’t even finish it all.”
  By canceling the artificially prescribed value system and re-establishing a direct dialogue between people and the land, we will find that nature is very generous in giving back to people. “A grain of rice will grow an average of 5 tillers and 5 ears after planting. Each ear has an average of 200 grains. A total of 1,000 grains of rice will be given back to people.” This is a reward for a thousand.
  In this sense, Banong does not consider himself a pure farmer, because his farming is to ensure the freedom of thinking, creation, and entertainment, thereby achieving a higher quality intellectual life. Everyone has a small piece of land to cultivate, which is his ideal picture.
  But his roots are still in peasant life.
  Come back, will the fields be full of wild beards?
  ”Going Home and Farming” is Ban Nong’s “Going Back and Lai Ci”: “Beinon Beinon is going home/Going home and farming/Can you still find the mountain road leading to the mountain forest where you grazed cattle in your childhood/Go back Go home, go home / Can you still find the simplest and happiest field in the field / Go home, go home.” In
  2012, he began to go home to farm like a migratory bird, returning to the city after sowing and returning to his hometown during harvest. . In 2015, Banong realized that there was nothing he was curious about in the city, so he returned to Nandan to live.
  They talked with straw, listened to the chirping of birds, and observed the trajectory of the moon; they collected local customs, made their own musical instruments, and learned a lot of folk stories and national myths. Later, Banong farmers even created a long narrative poem based on Zhuang myths.
At that time, he had decided that he would paint like Van Gogh for the rest of his life. This frustrated young man accepted a lonely artistic destiny early on. For this reason, he felt that he needed something that could relieve himself and accompany him.

  Put farm tools and musical instruments together, lower your head to cultivate the land, raise your head to sing, be self-sufficient and entertain yourself.
  A modern farmer’s exploration of folk art is about to be heard by us: he and his friend named Wayna.
A band without permanent members

  Banong’s creation started very early. When he first performed, his own creation was the main line. Banong would invite different friends to sing and accompany him, and sometimes even cooperate with children. That’s why “Waina is a band” A band without fixed members”. Recently, Vaina decided to hire a drummer for himself because he felt very good after working with the drummer of the Faz band.
  In 2019, Banong published his long poems, lyrics, paintings and interviews. The book “Board Down to Plant, Head Up to Sing” is a summary of his “half-farmer, half-song” lifestyle for several years.
  During a bookstore sharing event, a young man was moved by the title of the book and took the initiative to contact Banong, and the two became acquainted. He claimed that he was a fan of Banong and was also a singer with his own band. He is Shi Shiba, the author of the song “Big Dream”. Many Guilin fans know him because he often sings on Binjiang Road. He is now the acoustic guitarist of Wayna.
  After getting to know Shiba, Banong often invited him to help him; Shiba often shared his creations with Banong, and when there were no performances, he would come to the fields to help Banong harvest.
  Shiba’s hometown is in a county below Guilin City. He has been doing farm work with his parents since he was a child. He said that his life rhythm is to go home when there is farm work and sing when there is no farm work. You can find a video of him singing on Binjiang Road in Guilin on Station B. Someone in the comments said, “He has the best singing atmosphere on the entire road.”
  Banong said that before the Eighteenth Eighteenth, he sang more pop songs. It was not until he wrote “Big Dream” that he recognized the core of the Eighteenth’s music from the bottom of his heart.
  Shiba’s attitude towards “Big Dream” is very simple. He saw the lives of the generation around him, and as a song writer, he recorded it.
  The song talks about a rural child who was playing in the fields. He left home at the age of 12 to go to middle school. He failed to go to college and went to work. He got married, gave birth to a child, and took care of the child. At the end of his life, “I am already eighty-eight/ Walking in the fields/saw a little child/crying in the wind.”
  Shiba told me that in the dialect of his hometown, eating means “eating dreams”, and eating big dreams means having a good meal.
  Lu Min, the percussionist from Wayna, is one of the young people recorded in “Big Dream”.
  Lu Min was originally a bricklayer on a construction site. Because he had a good voice, he fell in love with music and often went to bars to help Shiba’s replacement sing. One time Shiba introduced a passerby to Banong, and Banong invited the passerby to come and whistle. From that point on, the passerby gradually began to assume the harmonies and percussion of the band.
  From the perspective of Ban farmers, in fact, neither he nor Shiba are real farmers. Instead, they are passers-by who do not farm. They represent the real situation of this generation of farmers. “You can’t make much money by farming, so you go out to work.” “.
When he was a child, people in the village would always tease him and lie to him that his mother had come back with a lot of things. Passersby were always fooled and deceived. Later he wrote “Grandma is Back”, repeating his childhood call, “Your mother is back, is back.”

  Lu Min’s parents went out to work very early and later divorced. No one cared about him. It was his grandfather who watched him grow up. When they grow up, Lumin can only go out to work, like his parents. He was still working on the construction site when Banong invited him to sing and play drums for him.
  It wasn’t until the performance of “Bannong Rice, One World” was completed at the end of last year that passers-by basically stopped working on the construction site. However, he still has a balance outstanding and is “still on the way to asking for salary.”
  When he was a child, people in the village would always tease him and lie to him that his mother had come back with a lot of things. Passersby were always fooled and deceived. Later he wrote “Grandma is Back”, repeating his childhood call, “Your mother is back, is back.”
  After several runs-in, the three gradually became close and in tune musically. They are all from Guangxi, the children of farmers, and they all deeply love the mountains and fields.
  In the evening, Shiba and the passers-by came to the farmhouse in Natian to meet with Banong. In a few days, they will have a special performance in Xi’an, and then they will continue Le Xia’s schedule.
  After returning home, Banong had spent ten years in Nandan. He felt it was time to go out and share his ideas with the world. Lexia was just such an opportunity.
  When Shiba and the passerby arrived, the sun had already set. As soon as they arrived, they rolled up their sleeves and said to me: “We will talk later, and we need to harvest the rice first.
  ” The time has to be put away.
  I also joined in, and the four of us worked together. The birds returned to their nests, and the evening breeze gradually picked up in the mountains.
  After dinner, Banong and the passers-by sat on the futon at the door of the hut, concentrating on rehearsing the next song for the competition, while Shiba made the bed on the second floor.
  It was completely dark now. They were sometimes playing the piano and sometimes discussing, and fireflies were circling in and out of their songs.
  The largest full moon of the year slowly rose from the mountain col in front of us. Only then did we remember that today is half July.
  The bright moonlight caressed the mountains far and near, and Banong shouted to Shiba, “Come and see my moon.”
  Road residents said that when we were children, we thought the moon was on the mountain opposite. As long as we ran to the top of the mountain, we would touch the moon.
  Distances that humans cannot reach, but songs can reach.
  Waina will dry rice and sing the same song tomorrow, but this time, more people will hear it.

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