You can tell a lot about someone by their musical taste. Indeed, after checking out James' Choice Picks_, you too will have a greater appreciation for how his music deviates from the normal influences of Mandopop artists. For Yang, being brought up on a mix of Soul, Blues, Folk and Rock has greatly influenced his sound. Keep reading to learn how all these sounds have become part of his story!
01. The Staple Singers - Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Similar to Wind in the Pines in terms of subject – the death of a loved one.
02. James Yang - Hold On
One of the songs on Lost & Found that I wrote for my grandfather. Every time I sing this song, I sing it louder than I should, in some vain hope that wherever my grandfather is, he will be able to hear or feel that I’m singing for him.
03. The Toots and Maytels - Pressure Drop
My best friend growing up was Jamaican, his family had parties and bbqs growing up, we listened to reggae, dancehall and rocksteady;
04. James Yang - 溫柔地，暴烈地
Seeing as I talked about it earlier, and that it’s my favourite song on Lost & Found;
05. Alan Lomax - Early in the mornin'
This sort of blues is the roots of Western pop music. I love this kind of music, but it also gives me a deeper understanding of how to write songs.
06. 郑钧- 灰姑娘
Just a simple, beautiful love song.
07. Led Zeppelin - When the levee breaks
This sort of rock played a lot when I was a kid. I chose this song for two reasons, first the drum track is amazing, 2nd, they used the arrangement to turn a simple country blues into a huge rock song, like we changed my simple demos in to complex songs in Lost & Found.
08. 老王樂隊 - 我還年輕 我還年輕
This song mixes lots of musical styles, including Klezmir, Gypsy jazz and HxC, Emocore elements together to create a really full and interesting song.
09. Rory Gallagher - Million Miles Away
I love the energy used to play here, and the guitar tone Gallagher gets.
This song mixes western and traditional Chinese elements together into something unique and crazy. It makes me think of the end of a film where the hero rides his motorbike into the sunset
When she's not crafting beautiful pop songs (new single 'Feeling Good out now), Asian-Australian singer-songwriter Teagan can be found studying biomed, and understands those cram feels wholly well. So who better to come up with a study-themed playlist than the chill chanteuse herself? Check out her picks below, and her description of the songs too!
"A collection of music that gets me through a long day (especially a long day of studying or working). All of these songs make you think deeper and make you feel good. But lyrically things aren’t so straight forward. Get lost in the beat and then messed up by the words."
01. Feeling Good – TEAGAN
Ironically, I wrote this song about not feeling so good. The times where you go out with your mates to convince yourself that you’re over something, before quickly realising you’re not – everyone else is having fun but you’d rather be anywhere but there. I love making upbeat music that contrasts more sombre lyrics because it’s the perfect analogy for the way so many of us deal with our problems – covering the emotion behind a happy façade.
02. Blood Bank – Bon Iver
I loved this track from the second I heard it. It’s an incredibly beautiful love song and Justin Vernon tells such a vivid story throughout it.
03. Don’t Kill My Vibe – Sigrid
Sigrid has such a good voice and this track showcases it so well. This song really does make you feel good and I’m glad she got away from the music execs that were killing her vibe.
04. Nights – Frank Ocean
The guitar in this track is so slick and is produced brilliantly. Frank Ocean’s artistry inspires me to ensure that everything I do musically has purpose and meaning behind it.
05. Drew Barrymore – SZA
If I’m not jamming to The Weekend then I’ve got this song on. Every time I listen to the hook, it’s stuck in my head for days. I love SZA’s ability to tell a story in 4 minutes or less.
06. It’s Okay – TEAGAN
I wrote this song as a reminder to not feel guilty about getting rid of bad people from your life. Keeping people like that around is only a favour to them whilst you suffer for it. I hope it convinces you to get rid of people like that too.
07. Lemons – Woodlock
The first band I ever became obsessed with as a teenager. These guys are local Melbourne buskers and this is an absolute tune. I’ve seen them live way too many times to count and every time has been so worth it.
08. Ribs – Lorde
This song makes me feel nostalgic about things I didn’t even know I was nostalgic about. I hope Lorde makes new music soon – she will always be on my playlist.
09. Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard
You cannot listen to this track and not feel motivated. Ben Howard made up the bulk of the music I listened to growing up (alongside Jack Johnson) and I still regret that I missed his show in Melbourne. Please come back soon, Ben.
10. Waves – Stolen Jars
The perfect song to drive home to. I hope these guys get all the recognition they deserve because everything they make is amazing and makes me feel so happy.
Check out 'Feeling Good', now available on all major streaming platforms such as Apple music, Spotify and KKBOX. Follow Teagan on her Instagram, Twitter or website for more information.
Coming from a background so wildly eclectic, it's intriguing how new artist Takkin's music instead comes from a middleground so warm and accepting. Check out his playlist picks, and of course his new single 'Stay Together', available now both in English and Mandarin on all major streaming platforms. With his debut single, Takkin explores how music has been his levelling ground in his first exploration:
"Regardless of what is going on in my life, happening around me and to me, music has and continues to be a constant. If I’m a gnarled, weathered tree on a cliffside, music is the roots that prevent me from cascading into the sea. It’s my place of solace and reflection. When I can’t concretely pinpoint what I’m feeling or experiencing, it helps me work through those emotions, expose them, and express them. "
With picks by friends who have inspired him (Mantis Hands) and other musical aspirations (Daniel Caesar, Sabrina Claudio), Takkin's picks reveal the first piece of the puzzle. Learn more about his music by heading back over to our news article on him!
01. Takkin - Stay Together (Eng & Chin)
It’s a love letter from one person to another, an extension of the hand. There is hope. It is soaring, mournful, and meditative. This song is the best representation of the world in which Takkin operates, where my music lives and breathes.
02. James Blake - Into The Red
This song captures the essence of love. It’s expansive and fantastical, all the while grounded in a concrete, historical phenomenon: the Gold Rush. Seeing him live at Terminal 5 (twice!) remains one of my fondest music memories.
03. Mantis Hands - Palace
Mantis Hands is partly responsible for Takkin’s birth. Over the years, I’ve collaborated with him on a plethora of projects: animation, voice-over, but never music. This song makes me feel like I’m in the Matrix, drinking a neon blue cocktail from a martini glass. Always cool, always pulsing, digitized thought.
04. Daniel Caesar - Get You (feat. Kali Uchi)
The song is deeply sexual, playful and catchy as hell! I see rays of sunlight through half-closed blinds over a half-made bed. The opening with the church organs, the bass and drum kit kicking in on the verse, fantastic.
05. Sabrina Claudio - Belong To You
Sabrina makes you feel like she’s singing to you and nobody else, that it’s just you and her in close quarters. She’s ethereal, her voice just above a whisper, that echoes deep in the halls of your mind. All mundane words sound extraterrestrial.
06. Mac Ayres - Slow Down
This song has such a gentle groove. Mac’s voice glides so lightly on top, like whipped cream on a milkshake. He’s another vocalist with complete control and confidence, capitalizing on the soft, muted tones of his voice.
07. Maggie Rogers - The Knife
Such smart song writing coupled with the funkiest bass line I’ve heard in a long time. I instantly want to get up and dance from that snare and hi-hat! Which instrument is the knife? It changes with every relisten.
08. Active Child - Darling
Simple, pastel colors, fragile; sitting on a gondola with a loved one, or holding a newborn in a nursery. The only thing that matters is the one with you.
09. Denzel Curry - Bulls on Parade (triple j Like A Version)
This song is definitely an outlier from the others but I can’t stop listening to it.
It’s pure, raucous adrenaline and an incredible live performance.
Listen to Takkin's new single 'Stay Together', now out on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud. Follow Takkin on all his social medias (Facebook, Instagram) to stay tuned for his upcoming regular releases!
Listen on Spotify
Titled 'Celeste's summer playlist for an afternoon tea', Singaporean singer-songwriter Celeste Syn's put together a quirkily curated playlist of afternoon delights to take your mind off the heat, whisking you away to her weird and wonderful musical world. Despite being signed under Mandopop extraordinaire Jay Chou's record label JVR Music, Syn is anything but your expected C-pop fare. Her stream-of-consciousness style of lyricism; combined with melodies filled with childish petulance and moments of sparkling clarity build an intrigue around her musical influences and collaborative partners; all of which is laid out in this very playlist. Is Syn's music your cup of tea? You'll just have to listen to find out.
01. Celeste Syn 冼佩瑾 - Little Dark Cave 龜兔賽跑
A song about running away to a little dark cave, escaping from the sun and all other matters you don’t wish to talk about. This too shall pass - just give it time. For now, stay cool and keep listening.
02. Aurora - Winter Bird
When the temperatures soar, the bird in me does the same, to an imaginary winter. Aurora tells the story so vividly, I can see her frozen tears.
03. Lara Veronin 梁心頤 - Comfortable Cage 舒適的牢籠
I’ve never quite told my good friend, how I love the way she penned the following to my tune - 在舒適的牢籠裡過表面的自由. Notice how she sings “籠裡” like “lonely”? Also, I wonder what true freedom feels like.
04. Celeste Syn 冼佩瑾 - Throw You In The River 把你丟進淡水河裡
The original intent was to throw my old MacBook into Danshui River (full story another time), as that wasn’t too environmentally friendly, we threw a misbehaving ex instead. Watch the music video on YouTube, it’s unconventional - don’t try it at home though.
05. PEW, Shelby Wang, Meiting 啊飄，王曉敏，黃美婷 - Onions 青蔥
It has an introduction that makes me smile. I like anything to do with retro or food, so when they come together it’s a definite yes; extra scallions please!
06. Agnes Obel - Brother Sparrow
My kind of midday dance. Perfect with tea. I find the footsteps rather enchanting; one that I go back to quite often. Can’t explain why.
07. Celeste Syn 冼佩瑾 - Alice Hates You
Now doze off to a singing doll, rocking chair, crackling fire and that unfinished pot of tea...if you dare.
08. Mando Diao - Ochrasy
A slow one from Swedish rock band, Mando Diao. Ochrasy is an escape from the deteriorating world - it’s a name/place they made up. I like to play pretend.
09. StellaVee - Friend Says 朋友說
I usually add a pop rock number near the end of my playlist to quicken the pace before heading off to work. I like the blend of sweetness and slight nonchalance in this one, for that bit of character; very much like StellaVee, in real life.
10. Ruth Kueo 魏妙如 - Be You
Being myself encompasses discovering who I am and what I am created to be. Otherwise, I’m just being a less than ideal version of myself, holding on to what I want to be, in the eyes of my own impaired judgment. In this song, “每個靈魂有的獨特” serves as a good reminder for me.
11. Hillsong Young & Free - This Is Living
I feel brand new and fresh every time I hear this. It’s like waking up to the smell of morning dew. This is living now, finally.
Celeste will be listening and chatting with fans on the KKBOX app on the 26th of March 2019 at 9pm. Be sure to log in and listen along! Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and check out her debut album 'Why' on all major streaming platforms.
LISTEN HERE ON SPOTIFY & KKBOX
Malaysian-Australian beatmaker and singer-songwriter May Lyn celebrates her unapologetic femininity and her story in our latest instalment of Choice Picks_. Empowering, vivacious, and bringing with her the robust roots of the Australian music scene and her Asian heritage, this playlist is one for all the women out there. Be it broken relationships, dreams that seem too far out of your reach, or a day that hasn’t gone your way, May Lyn’s got your back with her sugar-and-spice musical stylings. Check out what she has to say about this tastefully curated set of tracks below.
1. May Lyn- Froot Loop
This is the most fun I’ve had writing a track. My key takeaway from creating Froot Loop is to always remember there is a silver lining no matter how shitty your situation might be. It’s quite a different sound compared to my previous stuff and it reveals the fun, spunky side, the May who’s giggly and fun to be around when she lets go and has a laugh.
2. Bibi Bourelly - Ego
I love the edgy rasp in Bibi’s voice and how badass and unapologetic she is in this song. She’s also an inspiration to me because she’s a songwriter who’s behind some big names like Rihanna. That’s where I’d like to be as a producer and songwriter someday.
3. Little Dragon - Paris
I’ve been a fan of Little Dragon forever. Their music has had a big influence on how I produce my beats. I finally got the chance to see them live at laneway in 2015 and I think Yukimi was pregnant (or it could’ve just been her outfit lol) either way I remember thinking to myself “damn that’s one boss lady rocking the stage!”
4. Yaeji - Drink I’m Sippin’ On
Yaeji is just so cool. This beat is sick and her soft sweet voice on this song is like a lullaby. I don’t know what she’s saying in Korean but massive respect cause this song makes me feel like I’m at a low key party where there’s no judgements or bad vibes, nobody’s trying to be cool, everyone’s just chill and being themselves.
5. May Lyn - Like A Woman
I wrote this track as an anthem celebrating my womanhood. It’s about embracing and owning who you are, trusting your intuition and chasing your dreams :)
6. Alextbh - Walls
Alextbh has risen above and made it against all odds, being a queer Malaysian musician. A true rarity! Big ups to him for being such an empowering figure in Malaysia, his story and music are such an inspiration and this track is full of raw emotion, it hits me hard in the feels.
7. Apollo - Make You Go
Apollo is a regular in the Brisbane hip hop scene and hugely slept on. He’s part of a crew called River City Kids. I played a show with them in West End last year and man, they’re like the Bris version of Brockhampton. It’s so refreshing to see so much ambition, drive and youthful energy radiate from a group of people! I’m a sucker for a good ol’ RnB love song and Apollos voice is tasty smooth like honey on butter.
8. RINI - Stranger Tings
I found RINI’s album on Spotify recently. This is my fave track off the album, it’s so relatable. I like to see the good in people but dating and relationship-wise that has not worked out so well for me. I’ve invested way too much time sticking around with emotionally unavailable losers who have left me hanging and after lots of disappointment and heartbreak, learning to be the one to call it quits has been a hard lesson I’ve had to learn over the years.
9. Night Palms - JigglyPuff
I honestly don’t think I’d be in the music scene if it weren’t for Night Palms. We go way back. The brains behind Brisbane’s Beat Sessions, he created a special space for us beatmakers to come out of hiding and share our music with likeminded peeps. The friends I made in the early days of the beat sessions was a turning point for me as a producer. The outro piano piece in this track gets me every time. I can just picture Berry in his dimly lit apartment stoned af grooving and prodding those keys haha.
May Lyn's latest EP Froot Loop/ Like A Woman is out now on all major streaming platforms. Check it out and get your girlpower on! May will also be part of the lineup for Curiocity supported by Tourism Queensland and Brisbane Powerhouse along with Austen, Lalka, and Feels taking place March 31.
Listen Here On Spotify & KKBOX
At times intense, and at others laidback; the vein of commonality that runs through Charlie Lim’s works has always been his eloquent writing style, and that thoughtful broodiness which critics (and teenage girls) adore about him. Check out some of his favourite songs in this exclusive APW playlist!
Note from Charlie
Here are a list of tunes from a few of my favourite artists...some of them I’m very honoured to know and can call my friends. I’ll chuck in that Least of You tune as well, and Zero-Sum (which Yeo produced). Enjoy!
02. The Comments–Yeo
03. Last Yearn–Kllo
04. Least Of You – Charlie Lim
06. Art Pure II – Tim De Cotta, Mediocre Haircut Crew
07. 你就是 – Khalil Fong
08. Better–Sam Rui
09. Zero-Sum–Charlie Lim
10. Sun – The Steve McQueens
Listen on SPOTify & Kkbox
For this episode of Choice Picks, we have a VERY special playlist for all the queens out there. Take it all in, because this International Womens' Day playlist (for short: WOMANdopop) is just for you!
Sweet, Sassy, Subliminal, Skeptical... women have brought so much depth, emotion and meaning to many of our favourite contemporary Mandopop tracks. Old and new; from A-mei to Jolin Tsai, from Ann Bai to Sue, we've got it ALL. Send this playlist to an important woman in your life and let's prepare to get EMPOWERED, Mandopop stylez.
Want to know what influences Hong Kong singer-songwriter Yoyo Sham's uniquely calming and thoughtful sound? This is the playlist for you. Curated by Yoyo herself for Asian Pop Weekly, she has a song for every moment of the day; from the moment you rise to the moment you fall asleep. Sprinkle these in your playlist throughout the day and add a little Yoyo to your routine!
01. India Arie - I am Light
Sometimes when I get up in the morning I’m still tired, this is the first song I’d want to listen to, start the day on a good note
02. Jacob Collier - Hideaway
Every time I listen I hear a new detail, it’s so intricate and too good!
03. Iron and Wine - Claim Your Ghost
A warm voice that allows you to quieten down, when I saw him live in 2018 it was unforgettable
04. Ghost Note - Swagism
A band member of Snarky Puppy’s band; when I want a little groove or want to move a little I listen to this
05. Roy Hargrove - Crazy Race
I love every song in this album, one musician who left us in 2018
06. Lisa Hannigan - An Ocean and a Rock
My favourite song in five time
07. Flight of the Conchords - Think about it
A very humorous song, when you want a laugh you can take a listen
08. 陳奕迅 Eason Chan - Run
A song for when you can’t sleep
09. 岑寧兒 Yoyo Sham - Scrambled Eggs Blues
A song to listen to when you’re making breakfast
One of the contemporary Mandopop scene's most innovative and forward-thinking acts, Soulboy Khalil Fong has always strived to do better with his craft; infusing within it his innate sense of social responsibility. As one of the most prominent movers contributing to the incorporation of Soul, Blues and R&B genres into Mandarin music, Fong's unique musical sensibilities and perspective as a global citizen render his choice picks very special indeed. Check out his selection and why he chose them below!
In a very special Lunar New Year edition of Choice Picks, we've invited Singaporean indie sweetheart Shelby Wang to usher in the new year with her very own celebratory playlist! For Shelby, uplifting and inspiring tunes are just the way to express her hopes for the year of the pig. Her playlist is full of lightly sugared indie pop tracks that are sure to make your heart glow - just like her own music. Wishing one and all a very happy lunar new year! Oink oink!
別再說對不起 - 王曉敏 Shelby Wang
A coffee lover’s heartbreak story while staying hopeful. Try wiggling your shoulders along to the chorus, it will make you feel better.
小船 Impressionism - 陳綺貞 Cheer Chen
It’s been a long time since I heard a Mandopop Baroque Pop song. This song transports me to somewhere in 19th Century Europe. I loved the entire <Sofa Sea> album by Cheer Chen, and her songwriting never fails to amaze me. Love the magical animated music video for this song too!
小事 Brand New Label - HUSH
Simple, driving & inspirational. Talks about being true to yourself, and kudos to those who manage to do this simple yet difficult task.
小問題 - AGA
One of my favourite Cantopop tracks of 2018 by AGA. Having learnt the Guzheng since young, I love how this soulful, modern track blended elements of Chinese traditional music with modern R&B so well. Hope to do something like this soon!
夢遊 Flyaway - 孫盛希 Shishi
When I first heard this song (and the rest of the album), I was blown away by how modern downtempo elements were infused in this awesomely chill track. It inspires me to take more daring steps and experiment more in my songwriting.
你說想要去旅行 Travelling - 錦安 Jin An
100% feel good/wanderlust vibes from this song. Makes me wanna hop on Jin An’s wandering train and follow her to wherever she is! One of my favourite singer-songwriters from Singapore.
失蹤人口 Missing You - Sweet John
Electronic post-rock fused with folk-esque vocals contributed by the strong guitar riffs and male and female unison vocal lines. This song is great to listen to on-the-go and really sets you in a adventurous mood.
把音量轉小 Turn The Volume Down - 李友廷 Yo Lee
Super groovy song by this Taiwanese singer-songwriter I discovered recently from the Taiwanese competition <聲林之王>. Can’t get over how awesome his finger style guitar skills are! His other songs are really cool as well!
Everybody Woohoo - Greeny Wu (Wu Tsing Feng) ft. 9m88
With strong electronic builds, disco beats & funky guitar lines, this song is great to groove along with! Greeny Wu from Sodagreen is one of my all-time favourite songwriters and I love that he collaborated with 9m88! Check out the song’s 80’s inspired MV too.
大人中 Becoming a Man- 盧廣仲 Crowd Lu
Even in 10 years time, I’m quite sure this will be a song my friends and I will sing in unison every time it comes on. Even when we’re all grown up, there are times when we still feel like a little child trying our best. This song tells us that it is OK to feel that way.
Be sure to check out Shelby's latest EP 在你的世界存在 Existing In Your World and follow her on her Facebook andInstagram!
The latest choice picks_