Catching up with CHROMA, YCIS Beijing’s Hottest Student Band
If you’re a member of the YCIS Beijing community, you’ve probably seen this group already, rocking the stage with an eclectic collection of covers, adaptations, and original music for all their adoring fans. But make no mistake, the Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s most famous student band are the real deal.
Having recently rocked an audience of over 300 at a local concert and with more shows in the near future, CHROMA's future is looking bright! We sat down with this group of Year 12 music makers to learn about their inspirations, aspirations, and where we can catch their next performance!
Please introduce yourselves.
<em">Liyong Wang: I’ve been at YCIS Beijing for about 8 years (since Year 4). I’m from Malaysia and I play guitar and sing.
<em">Katie Zhang: I’m Chinese but born in Japan. I’ve been here since Year 7. I mainly sing but sometimes I play keyboard or guitar too.
<em">Junyoung Jeon: I’m from South Korea and have been at YCIS Beijing for almost three years. I usually play bass but sometimes guitar as well.
<em">Theo Cui: I’m from Singapore. I’ve been at YCIS Beijing for around 8 years. I play the drums.
<em">Yi Zhao: I’m Chinese and have been at the school for 4 years. I play keyboard and sometimes piano.
How did all of you initially get connected to perform together?
<em">Liyong: We first started playing together two or three years ago. We were asked by our music teachers to do a few songs together and we just kept playing and performing together. We played together so much that we decided it would be more convenient to have a band name for people to call us by instead of our individual names!
<em">Katie: the four of us minus Yi were all in the same IGCSE music class which is where we first got the opportunity to play together. Yi joined recently when we asked the school to see if there was anyone that was willing to play keyboards or guitar, and he volunteered and was really good. We’re happy to have him as a member!
What was the inspiration or reason you decided to come together to form this band?
<em">Katie: We all really liked playing music and were close as friends as well, so we thought that forming a band would be a lot of fun, and a good experience for us musically!
<em">Theo: Plus good for CAS! (laughs)
<em">Liyong: I’m personally really interested in becoming a musician in the future, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to get some more music performance experience.
<em">Junyoung: For me as well, I really want to keep playing music when I move on to university. This band is a great starting point for my music experience and portfolio.
<em">Katie: Same. I’m almost 100% sure I’m going to major in music, so playing in a band is great for improving my own stage performance skills as well as to learn how to play together as a band.
How do you decide what to play?
<em">All: We vote on what to play. Most of the time we just play every suggestion or idea we have and then see which one we’re most comfortable playing.
<em">Katie: We add different elements of songs into our version of the cover to make it our own.
<em">Liyong: [The Coldplay song] Viva La Vide is a great example. While it’s originally a pop song, our adaptation gave it a more techno/synthesized feel.
Does the band perform outside of school? Where can we see you play outside of YCIS Beijing performances?
<em">Katie: Our recent performance at a rock concert at a local international school was amazing because it was the first time we got to meet bands from other schools. It was really fun to see what they’re doing with their music and what kind of songs they’re playing. It gave us a lot of inspiration for our own work too.
<em">Liyong: Performing at a different venue rather in the school auditorium was also really important because it was a much larger stage and felt more official, like a real rock concert. There were 8 bands and about 300 people, most of them kids and students. So far that’s the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of.
How have your YCIS Beijing PA teachers supported your musical development, either individually or as a band?
<em">Junyeong: Ms. Yu always gives us feedback when we’re practicing. It’s helped us to improve the quality of our live performances greatly. She also taught us a lot of different styles and genres of music.
<em">Yi – As a band they’ve helped us a lot as well as me personally. Even though I’m not an IB music student, Ms. Yu has improved my own music skills in both composition and orchestra performance.
<em">Katie – She’s given me a lot of confidence working with her. Before I knew her, I didn’t really sing a lot to the public. After I entered the IGCSE music program, she was very supportive, and I think it’s largely thanks to her support and teaching that I now have this confidence and ability to perform in front of people and crowds.
<em">Liyong – Like Katie, Ms. Yu has been my teacher since IGCSE. She’s really helped me over the years. When I first started performing, I’d get really bad stage fright, but Ms. Yu’s encouragement really helped me. Mr. Pearton also helps us a lot with performance opportunities, recommending and signing us up for performances he’s organizing.
What are your plans for the future of the band?
We’ll be performing at the British Embassy Garden Party on June 1. We’ve been practicing a lot and are really excited for it. We have a bunch of new songs ready, and while it’s been challenging to practice while also prepare for our IB exams that start on June 5Incandescence Student Charity Dinner on June 18. We’re planning on selling it and donating all the proceeds to the sponsored charity, Dew Drops Little Flower.
Read more testimonials from our talented students by visiting our Student Blog page!