By Matt Taylor
Mandopop artist Miu Chu 朱俐靜 released her brand new EP, Understand Your Uniqueness 懂你的獨特 on Friday (30/3). The five track EP explores several emotions, from the warm feelings of a first love and the celebration of what makes us unique; to the pain of loss and death.
Despite being a private person, Miu took the decision to have intimate conversations about her life with her songwriters so that they could craft lyrics which represented her life journey, as opposed to selecting overly dramatic songs which show off her impressive vocal range.
So raw were the emotions on display that those in the studio would be brought to tears by Miu’s singing at times, halting the recording process on several occasions. Indeed, there is a sense of fragility throughout the EP.
Miu hoped that by baring her soul on record, she can develop a more intimate relationship with her fans, and she hopes that they can see their own journeys through her songs.
This intimacy is also evident in the artwork, which sees Miu without clothes and makeup, brandishing bruises and dirt on her face, representative of the fact that when we remove everything we are all equal, it is the emotional and physical scars accrued during life we have that make us unique.
Since winning the third season of Super Idol 超級偶像 in 2009, Miu has released two studio albums and several EPs, the most recent being 2015’s My Way. In 2014 she was awarded Best New Artist at the KK Box and Hit FM Music Awards respectively for her debut album, The Power of Existing 存在的力量.
1. 其實沒聊什麼 (feat RPG) There’s Nothing to Talk About
2. 我懂你的獨特 I Understand Your Uniqueness
3. 反對眼淚 Fighting Against Tears
4. 咖桃呼 Kataohu
5. 難得幸福 Rare Hapiness
By Matt Taylor
What happens when you mix the charm and charismatic nature of traditional Chinese instruments and weave them through contemporary western musical genres? You get instrumental group A-Play China 一奏器樂派, who in December 2017 released their debut album Chapter I - Kung Fu Pop 第一卷˙宮羽破, an avant-garde mashup of of Eastern old and Western new.
The aim of A-Play China is to create modern pop music with traditional Chinese instruments, thereby acting as a two way cross-cultural bridge between East and West. On Kung Fu Pop, traditional instruments which have their roots in Chinese folk (including the guzheng 古箏, erhu 二胡 and dizi 笛子) are seamlessly integrated into elements of soul, rock, disco and pop, resulting in a seven track album able to embody the beauty of the ancient and modern, whilst simultaneously combining the vigor and vitality of the urban and rural to create a new and refreshing musical landscape.
Founder of the group and producer of the album, Zhou Jin Tai 周金泰 is an accomplished producer and composer, and has already enjoyed an illustrious decade in the Chinese music industry. As well as producing for other artists, he has composed the theme tune for several TV drama’s, has acted as head producer for New Year & Spring Gala events for Jiangsu TV, and invited to sit on the panel of Sing! China 中國新歌聲.
In the Chinese music industry, Zhou is seen by many as a pioneer in pop music due to his cross-border music creation and innovative thinking, and he has dedicated his career to the exploration and excavation of high quality independent pop music.
Chinese instruments being utilized in modern pop isn’t completely new. Since the beginning of the 21st Century, musicians like Jay Chou 周杰倫, Wang Leehom 王力宏 and S.H.E were leading figures in the China Wave 中國風, which sought to not only bring Chinese instruments and folk tales into the modern pop dichotomy, but place them at the core of their records, with the bridges and hooks often dependent on these traditional instruments.
Where A-Play China differs from this however is in how the instruments are employed - rather than playing traditional melodies and then building a pop song around this, or being used simply for hooks and interludes, they are instead intrinsically fused with their partner Western genre, resulting in a refreshing and harmonious collaboration where it feels less of a novelty, and more genuine pop song led by traditional instruments - a surprising rarity in modern Chinese pop music.
Despite this innovative use of instrumentation however, these traditional instruments are still capable of tapping into the expressiveness and spiritual connotation of the folk music they have historically been used for. For thousands of years, these instruments have carried with them stories and feelings of the East, and that is not lost at any point on the record.
The album Chapter I - Kung Fu Pop 第一卷˙宮羽破 is available to stream and purchase on most major music platforms:
Taiwanese Singer-songwriter and YouTuber Dena Chang Releases First Single ‘You Love Her’, Marks Return to Musical Roots
Prominent Folk-pop Taiwanese YouTuber and singer-songwriter Dena Chang張粹方 released her first original single ‘You Love Her’ on the 16th of March, marking her return to her musical roots.
While in recent years, the enthusiastic beauty has become well-known for her YouTube content which focuses on life as an international student overseas, her experience with learning English, and various other makeup and beauty content, the 24 year-old has always had music on her mind.
The sweet singer-songwriter, who first caught public attention with her YouTube covers when she was in high school has accumulated a large following of over 150K subscribers across all her platforms, and shared that she is particularly nervous about the release of this single and its reception by fans.
“There have been a lot of friends who have supported me throughout my journey and they’ve waited so long…I really don’t want them to be disappointed! I feel like I MUST create a work that I am proud of, if not it’ll not be fair to them either! I’m unsure if everyone will like the single…but I really really hope they will!”
The single ‘You Love Her’, composed by Dena herself tells the story of a romance that one can’t bear to let go. Although one has put a lot of effort and energy into breaking things off, upon meeting again, these feelings will inevitably return, making one wonder whether it was the right decision.
With lyrics composed by veteran lyricist Li Yan Xiu, Dena’s original English version of the song titled ‘Shouldn’t Be Missing’ also has an acoustic version available on her YouTube. Yet upon reading the Chinese lyrics, the bubbly singer recalled a different experience, of having feelings for a senior in her school, yet always having to hold these feelings back as he had a steady girlfriend.
From learning the piano when she was seven to most recently studying at the acclaimed Berklee School of Music, Dena’s journey has very much been centred on her passion for creating music. Gaining confidence in her uniquely sweet and layered vocals when she participated in the school choir when she was 12, she began learning the guitar at 13 after being influenced by her love of Michelle Branch, and at 15, having been inspired by Taylor Swift, wrote her first song.
In 2014, during her last year of university, Chang attended Berklee’s summer course and due to her results, was awarded a scholarship for her prowess in songwriting. In 2015, she decided to pursue her dreams full-on and studied for a year at Berklee, before returning to Taiwan to begin working on releasing her original works.
The single is now available on all major streaming platforms, including KKBOX, Spotify and iTunes. Links below:
[Dena張粹方] - [你愛她 You Love Her]
Apple Music: https://goo.gl/pkGBNE
By : C.P Ching
The 2018 edition of Taiwan Beats Music Showcase returns to Austin, Texas on Monday, March 12th. The event will be held at Elysium (705 Red River St), doors open at 7 pm and performances will take place from 8 pm to 2 am.
This year’s event will is hosted by BAMID, MOC Taiwan, SXSW and GCA entertainment and will have a lineup featuring an array of artists from the Taiwan music scene.
Performers range from iconic names like Vanness Wu 吳建豪, to rising hip-hop artist PoeTek 熊仔, to Taiwanese experimental-folk band Prairie WWWW.
In addition, the showcase includes appearances from Electronic DJ/Producer Sonia Calico, electronic band Ruby Fatale 鹿比 ∞ 吠陀) , and Golden Melody Award winner; Sangpuy 桑布伊.
Full lineup: Vanness Wu, Sangpuy, PoeTek, Ruby Fatale, Prairie WWWW, Sonia Calico.
Full details of the event can be found here:
By: C.P. Ching
G.E.M. 鄧紫棋 is currently in the midst of a two-year-long world tour aka the “Queen of Hearts” and will make her way back to the United States on April 1st for a concert in Uncasville, Connecticut.
This is the first time the Hong Kong-based singer will be holding a concert on U.S soil, since her last embark in November 2015. When she held a concert in Newark, New Jersey for her “G.E.M. X.X.X Live World Tour”.
G.E.M has been busy touring for much of 2017, and have had multiple shows across Australia, China, along with other major cities like Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore. In addition to that, she will be holding three consecutive concerts in Taiwan from March 23rd to March 25th before heading out to Connecticut in April.
For fans out west, it might worthwhile to make the trip out to Connecticut to see G.E.M live later this month, as it is unknown when and where her next show in North America will be.