SIRIS – An Enduring Musical Journey

SIRIS, or 《赛日》, is the name of the critically acclaimed American music group formed by brothers Michael Maley and Patrick Maley. It also serves as the stage name for lead singer and composer Michael Maley.

Hailing from Philadelphia, the Maley brothers gained both commercial and critical acclaim as the first artists in music history to release original Chinese and English songs. This journey began with their 1997 Chinese debut album titled “Till My Last Breath.” Since their debut release, SIRIS has taken great pride in its unique role as musical ambassadors, fostering cultural unity between East and West through their distinct brand of music.

The Beginning

The Maley brothers commenced their musical journey at an early age, being self-taught musicians. Among their earliest modern influences were Genesis, Sting, U2, Rush, Level 42, and Tears for Fears. Additionally, they drew inspiration from the music their parents grew up listening to, including The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Abba, Frank Sinatra, and Barry Manilow. Thanks to their parents, their musical influences spanned across pop, rock, jazz, and classical genres.

The Maley siblings, along with their sister Caroline, spent their childhood evenings gathered around the record player. After dinner, they would put on their parents’ old records and passionately sing along. Early on, they also learned and listened to traditional Italian songs sung to them by their maternal grandmother, leaving a lasting impression on all three children. Music played a crucial role in their lives, and an appreciation for different cultures and languages was instilled in them through music from an early age.

Chinese Influence

Michael developed a strong interest in Chinese culture at a relatively young age, sparked by his love for martial arts and Bruce Lee. Following high school graduation, Michael moved to China to pursue Chinese language studies at the prestigious Fudan University. During this period, his younger brother Patrick remained in America, continuing his musical pursuits as a drummer.

Chinese Life and Love of Music

SIRIS’ Chinese-inspired music owes much to Michael’s experiences in China. While living and studying in China, Michael worked as an English teacher and translator. His eventual fluency in Chinese, coupled with a strong martial arts background, garnered him some notoriety in TV commercials and films. In 1994, he was a stunt actor in the Chinese-language remake of the popular 1960s TV series “The Green Hornet.”

While working and studying in Shanghai, Michael immersed himself in the popular Chinese music of that era, particularly the works of Jacky Cheung, Angus Tong, Wakin Chau, and his favorite rock artists, Black Panther, Cui Jian, Beyond, and Wu Bai. Listening to Chinese music not only enhanced his proficiency in the language but also honed his songwriting skills.

Returning Home

After working and studying in China for some time, Michael returned to America to pursue a career in music. The brothers reunited, and after recording several Chinese and English demos together, they sensed they were onto something special. In 1995, they officially formed the band SIRIS, a name derived from the Chinese characters Sai 赛 and Ri日, meaning to surpass the sun. They adopted a unique multicultural approach to making music by blending influences from the East and West, making them the first Western artists in music history to compose, release, and perform original Chinese and English language songs.

The First Album

In 1997, the brothers officially released their independent Chinese debut album entitled “Till My Last Breath,” also known as “Forever Cherishing Your Love” or 永远珍惜你的爱 in Chinese. The album was engineered by producer David Ivory, providing a valuable learning experience for the brothers. It marked their first step towards pursuing their dream, and they were eager to learn. A brief promotional tour of Taiwan and Mainland China followed, using the release as a springboard to generate greater interest in their music, particularly throughout Asia.

The Order of Time

In 2000, after returning from Taiwan, SIRIS followed up “Till My Last Breath” with their critically acclaimed English debut, “The Order of Time.” The album was a remarkable independent achievement, especially considering the brothers were still learning the ropes of the music business. It was during this time that Michael took on the role of producer. The brothers were writing and performing music with a distinct progressive flair. The independent success of “The Order of Time” attracted wide praise and generous international radio play, catching the attention of Grammy-nominated musician and former King Crimson frontman Adrian Belew, who commented: “It’s nice to hear something different in a world of so many similar artists.”

Breaking New Ground In The Digital Age

In 2003, SIRIS continued to break new ground by releasing the first-ever Chinese language song sold on Apple’s iTunes. The song “Beautiful Angel” remains a popular fan favorite. With the inception of online file sharing, digital retail, and digital broadcasting, “Beautiful Angel” was the first Chinese language single to land in the top 15 and top 20 on both MP3.com and Myspace.com, respectively. The song was featured prominently on international radio and TV.

Critical Acclaim and The Release of Xing Fu (Happiness)

In 2005, SIRIS released the critically acclaimed album “Xing Fu.” The title track became a huge hit, receiving heavy airplay in North America, Taiwan, and Mainland China. The song and video have since been streamed over 50 million times and broadcast worldwide. The Associated Press wrote: “This Philly Duo is A Big Hit!” and ABC News remarked: “SIRIS is certainly breaking down cultural barriers between East and West!” With increased media attention and momentum, in 2006, SIRIS performed shows across the US and made several appearances in Taiwan and China in support of the new album. MTV offered praise, referring to SIRIS as: “Magical!” stating: “Their music should be accepted because there is sincerity in their work.” Later in 2006, SIRIS took part in the first-ever live concert broadcast of MTV World’s – “MTV Chi Rocks” Concert; a celebration of Chinese American music and culture. The live concert event was broadcast to over 200 million households worldwide.

We’re All The Same

Shortly after the success of “Xing Fu,” SIRIS prepared for another studio album. In 2007, the brothers worked on new material, much of it influenced by Michael’s experiences in China while promoting Xing Fu. During that stretch, Michael traveled to London to meet with Grammy-winning producer Hugh Padgham (Sting, The Police, Genesis, Phil Collins). Hugh’s production style was a significant influence on SIRIS. Spending a day discussing the tricks and techniques he used on many iconic albums was a dream come true. Michael came away from that meeting feeling refreshed and empowered. The experience resulted in the Chinese album, “We’re All The Same” 我们都一样. The album was a musical and critical triumph once again. SIRIS hit the road once more to promote the new release. The Chinese World Journal praised the duo: “SIRIS is what’s in! They show true appreciation for Chinese culture and express it with their extraordinary talent; They produce life-inspiring work that translates into great Chinese songs.” TVBS Television in Taiwan stated, “Simply put, the music of SIRIS is refreshing and filled with emotion!”

Sichuan and A Song Embraced By Millions

With considerable media exposure and sustained momentum, the brothers continued to use their music as a means of building a bridge between East and West. Never was that more evident than in 2008. That year, tragedy struck Sichuan, China, in one of the most significant catastrophic earthquakes in centuries. Moved to tears by the human suffering and heroic rescue efforts shown on television, Michael composed and recorded a special tribute entitled “God Bless Sichuan” or 上天祝福四川, featuring Chinese erhu soloist Qin Qian. The song became a huge hit across China and has been streamed and downloaded over 100 million times across multiple social media platforms. The song was the #1 viewed and downloaded song on China’s most popular streaming video platform “Youku.com” from 2008 to 2009 and remained in the top 15 beyond 2013. The song also became a spiritual anthem for many families affected by the tragedy.

China’s CCTV commented: “SIRIS is second to none!” Sing Tao Radio commented “SIRIS is outstanding, and their Chinese music is fantastic”; Something like this is very rare!” And the Chengdu Daily in Sichuan stated, “God Bless Sichuan is Absolutely Moving!” In 2008 and 2009, SIRIS performed at numerous events raising money and awareness for the earthquake disaster relief. In 2009, SIRIS released a special music video commemorating the one-year anniversary of the tragic event. The video, directed by John Rhee and filmed by Benji Bakshi, featured Michael singing alone against a black backdrop as photos of the tragic event faded in and out. The video was equally a huge hit and was prominently featured by major media outlets across China. SIRIS (Michael) returned to China for a series of successful concerts and promotional appearances that lasted well into 2011.

New Music and Newer Beginnings

In 2009, prior to Michael returning to China to promote God Bless Sichuan, Patrick Maley became ill. While making a full recovery, Patrick chose to remain behind the scenes, still lending support in the creative process when needed. Michael continued to carry the torch under the SIRIS name as a solo artist. To this day, he’s still known by Chinese fans as SIRIS or 赛日 (SaiRi). It was also during this time that Michael produced the English album entitled “8”. The album, initially released for free on the official SIRIS website, received over 1,000,000 total downloads. God Bless Sichuan was featured on “8” as the sole Chinese single of that album. Chinese fans were more than happy to show their support. 8 featured the singles: “A Trip To Nowhere”, “You Are”, “You’ll Be Okay” and “No Matter What”. During this period, SIRIS was invited to perform live at the first-ever CCTV Animation Festival Celebration, performing to an audience of over 300,000 people live and broadcast to a live television viewing audience of over 300 million households. For this special performance, SIRIS composed and performed a never-before-released single entitled “Dream Goddess” 《梦中的仙女》. SIRIS successfully toured several major cities throughout China in 2010 and 2011 before returning home to the US.

New Projects and Spiritual Expression

After returning to the states In 2012, SIRIS co-hosted a Chinese language radio program on China’s 92.3FM called Qing Song Yi Ke. The show was based in the San Francisco Bay Area and co-hosted by longtime friend and award-winning TV/Radio host Keyi Chang.

From 2013 to 2015, SIRIS engaged in various side projects while recording music for two new albums. During this period, Michael took time away from traveling but composed many new songs, which he recorded but put on the back burner for future projects. He also wrote a brand new book. In 2018, he officially released his first Chinese language book under the “SIRIS” name, detailing and recounting his many spiritual experiences throughout life. The book entitled “Spiritual Wisdom – A Guidebook to Life” had been in the works for over 10 years and was finally complete. 100% of the proceeds from the new book go to worthy charities throughout Taiwan and Mainland China.

Everything Good Takes Time

As the age-old adage wisely states, “Everything good takes time.” In the intricate tapestry of life, the significance of timing holds true, resonating equally in the realm of music creation. SIRIS unveiled a fresh single, “April Showers,” in 2021, followed by the festive notes of a classic Christmas melody named “Jazzy Jingle Bells” in 2022. During this period, they released their renditions of two pop classics, presenting revamped versions of Tears for Fears’ timeless “Mad World” and The Bee Gees’ soulful “New York Mining Disaster.”

In 2023, they officially released a song originally recorded 15 years prior—“Philadelphia,” a heartfelt ode to their hometown. Since its debut, the single has already amassed a million streams across various platforms. Additionally, the year saw the reissue of a remastered version of their critically acclaimed 2005 album, “Xing Fu.”

Looking ahead to 2024, anticipation builds for a comprehensive “Best of SIRIS” retrospective, complemented by the arrival of brand-new full-length English and Chinese albums. The journey continues, promising a harmonious blend of nostalgia and innovation in the ever-evolving story of SIRIS.

The Enduring Journey

For nearly three decades, the name SIRIS has stood as a symbol of creativity and artistic freedom, seamlessly blending influences from diverse cultures and styles. This fusion has given birth to a distinctive sound that undeniably encapsulates the essence of “SIRIS.” Now, with the passage of time making them a bit older and a touch wiser, the brothers eagerly anticipate scaling new artistic peaks as they continue their lifelong musical odyssey.

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