On EP ‘Don’t Speak, Just Kiss’

Liu Lian’s debut solo EP, Don’t Speak, Just Kiss, unveils her exploration of love through three self-penned and composed songs. Departing momentarily from the familiar jazz stylings of the band Mr. Miss, Liu Lian ventures into the realm of self-expression as a solo artist, unveiling a profound understanding of self-love through forays into new musical genres like dream pop.

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As a maiden voyage into solo artistry, Don’t Speak, Just Kiss encapsulates Liu Lian’s current authentic essence. Having become accustomed to the vocal intricacies and creative trajectory as the frontwoman of Mr. Miss, Liu Lian’s transition from the security of the band into the uncharted waters of her solo career has been a transformative journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

Symbolized by the “Love Airline” motif in Don’t Speak, Just Kiss, she encourages listeners to embark on a proactive journey toward self-discovery and fulfillment. The EP cover’s re-creation of the iconic “victory kiss” scene within an airplane cabin symbolizes the transformative power of decisive action over passive waiting.

In Liu Lian’s vision, each seat within the cabin represents a microcosm of life’s diverse experiences. From solitary travelers finding solace to lovers entwined in intimate whispers, each vignette reflects facets of human existence. Notably, the blurred figure embraced by Liu Lian on the EP cover hints at a symbolic embrace of her own multifaceted identity within this tableau.

Lian Liu, Billboard China February cover

Lian Liu for Billboard China

Yaxin Liu

Love Others, Speak Less, Kiss More

In the EP’s standout title track, Liu Lian beautifully captures the essence of love and longing: using our bodies to embrace, kiss and love passionately. Embracing the idea that love may not last forever, why not enjoy the present, live fully, speak less, and kiss deeply – this is what life is about. In Liu Lian’s touching lyrics: “The most profound expression of humanity is found in kissing.”

In China, talking about desires can be uncomfortable. Some fans hesitated to share a song titled “Don’t Speak, Just Kiss” on social media. The reactions not only surprised Liu Lian, but also highlighted the EP’s importance. It helps people overcome their inhibitions from a new perspective. Liu Lian said, “It’s a great achievement. There’s no shame in desires; love is what matters most.”

In Chinese, the word “we” sounds the best. Love is about moving from “I” to “we,” from being alone to being together. Liu Lian believes that to love others, you must first love yourself. Courage isn’t always needed to love. When you truly care for someone, courage comes naturally when showing that love. If you struggle with courage, it might be because you don’t love yourself enough or feel unworthy, which can make it hard to give or accept the love you deserve.

The upcoming romantic movie You Whom I Lost, set to premiere in March, will feature Liu Lian in her big-screen debut as the female lead’s best friend. Having released an EP centered around love and starring in a romantic film, Liu Lian, acclaimed as an intellectual in love relationships, reflects on the word “love” feeling somewhat distant from her: ” It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve thought about love. I admire people who do crazy things for love; they seem really happy. Love can make you feel obsessed and act impulsively, unlike how you normally would. But it seems like I can’t act like that anymore.”

Lian Liu, Billboard China February cover

Lian Liu for Billboard China

Yaxin Liu

Loving Music Takes Action

Since 2017, on each anniversary of her birth, Liu Lian has unveiled a solitary opus that leans more toward personal introspection. Don’t Speak, Just Kiss signifies Liu Lian’s inaugural venture into complete artistic autonomy as a soloist.

“When I start creating music on my own, some traces of the group’s style may still be present,” Liu Lian says of her time in Mr. Miss. “While working alone, I focus on crafting melodies with precision, similar to performing surgery. My creative process is not just about reflecting on myself; it also involves exploring imagination and fiction to express my thoughts and observations from that time.”

Transitioning from nostalgic ’90s vibes to contemporary atmospheres prevalent in today’s musical landscape, when discussing the trajectory of her forthcoming debut full-length album, Liu Lian candidly concedes that she is still in the process of exploration: “Truthfully, I am most intrigued to discern the musical path preferred by my audience after this EP. I aspire for the album’s thematic essence to be more defined than that of the EP. This year, my aim is to compose and release additional compositions to delineate a distinctive musical signature for ‘Liu Lian.’”

To promote this EP, Liu Lian orchestrated an online collaborative initiative titled ” Don’t Speak, Embrace Creation,” where enthusiasts collectively contributed to a single document that has garnered thousands of submissions thus far. “Numerous young individuals expound upon facets intimately entwined with their existence—be it parental wake-up calls at dawn or anecdotes pertaining to exam preparations—rendering their narratives relatable and vivacious in both prose style and lyrical cadence.”

Liu Lian had perennially navigated the musical landscape under the guise of an autonomous ensemble, seldom venturing into other facets of the recording industry. This occasion marked her deep-seated partnership with Tencent Music Entertainment Group, embracing a more industrialized production approach to unveil a personal EP, affording Liu Lian an immersive involvement in every facet of the album: from inception to production to dissemination… Truly an invigorating firsthand encounter for Liu Lian.

“I tried to handle everything on my own, from making music to working with producers. This helped me learn a lot about making albums, the Chinese music industry, and solve many mysteries. Working with TME has been great; they help me choose songs and remind me of what to do next in the production process. Brainstorming about music with someone who thinks like me is really valuable.”

–Written by Jifan Wang for Billboard China

Lian Liu, Billboard China February cover

Lian Liu for Billboard China

Yaxin Liu

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