By Matt Taylor
Pioneer of Taiwanese hip-hop music Dwagie 大支 has always been expected to do the unexpected, and this trend continued on Wednesday, January 9 as he decided to surprise upload a freestyle rap onto YouTube, with a corresponding casual video of him in the recording studio.
During a recording session, Dwagie says he was asked by a friend if he had met any women recently. Sending Dwagie’s creative juices flowing, he decided to wax lyrical about his recent miscellaneous escapades not by writing a song, but by freestyling his thoughts on a record called Spicy Taiwanese Sister 辣台妹.
In what is certain to be a surprise, the song was brought up on social media by none other than the President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文. In a Facebook post, she mentioned that she had seen the phrase across her social media and had been wondering why. In an interesting move, she decided to re-contextualise what we typically think of as spicy (typically used to mean hot or attractive), saying that it is an attitude with which one carries themselves, and that this spice can be interpreted as fiery and passionate. Whilst she herself is peaceful, when it comes to Taiwan, both herself and all Taiwanese people have a fire and passion, and suggested the new terminology of Group of Passionate Taiwanese 辣台派 .
This isn’t the first time that Dwagie and President Tsai have collaborated in some form. In 2017 President Tsai was featured in the chorus of Dwagie’s English-language song Light Up Taiwan 點亮台灣, a song designed to introduce foreign music listeners to Taiwan’s culture and history.
See below for the video for Spicy Taiwanese Sister 辣台妹.
By Matt Taylor
The wait is nearly over! Four years since her last studio album, 2014's critical and commercial blockbuster PLAY 呸, the dancing queen of Mandopop Jolin Tsai 蔡依林 has finally announced the release of her 14th studio album UGLY BEAUTY, which will be released on December 26.
Regarding the album title, Jolin expressed that she wanted to use this album to discover the ugliness behind the perfect surface of reality, and show that perfection is not equal to all. Each song will represent a different personality, viewpoint and style.
To create this eleven-track record, Jolin mobilised over 100 different musicians from Taiwan, Thailand and Sweden, and even took a direct role in writing and producing six of the tracks, something she has traditionally shied away from. She said that working with so many different creative people gave her the motivation to play a larger role in the creation of her music, and to her surprise, she actually enjoyed it, and hopes that this comes across to the listener.
One of the most noticeable features of the artwork is the oversized red lips, produced by Chinese designer Shuting Qiu. They are meant to symbolize words which we want to say, but are afraid to.
With hype and anticipation at fever pitch, limited pre-sales across Asia sold out in minutes, with the album receiving a platinum certification in China after only 24 hours. Demand was so high that a second print of pre-orders was arranged after fans vented their frustration on the social media accounts of Jolin's record label.
Since her debut album in 1999, Jolin Tsai has sold over 25 million records worldwide, and is one of the highest selling recording artists of the 21st century in Asia. Her most recent PLAY World Tour 呸世界巡迴演唱會 saw Jolin perform 34 concerts across five countries.
The first single from UGLY BEAUTY will premiere on December 21st, with the album following on December 26th.
By Matt Taylor
It was the end of an era as early last month, beacon of Taiwanese independent music iNDIEVOX announced that from the end of August, it would be focusing solely on its role as a ticket provider, and that its music store and download service would cease to exist.
Since its founding in 2008 by Po-chang Wu 吳柏蒼 (who is also the lead singer of psychedelic Taiwanese rock band ECHO), the website quickly gained a reputation for its unique perspective on independent music and the way it could be promoted to an audience in Taiwan and beyond, and was a pioneer in how it distributed digital music.
iNDEVOX powered indie musicians, labels, live venues and festivals to come together in a digital space, and collaborate to assist in the promotion and accessibility of Taiwanese indie music, and worked to bring independent music from the underground into the centre of popular culture. In a world where streaming giants such as KKBox, Spotify and Apple Music have monopolized the market and come under intense scrutiny for their method of sharing profits with artists and labels, iNDIEVOX was not only an early entrant, but was much fairer, with artists and independent labels not only having the ability to create their own online store, but also have complete control over the price point, manage personal information, and check sales and reception of music in real time - the latter being a pioneering concept in the late 00’s.
With more than 5000 musicians/labels/event using the site to connect with audiences, A unique visitor base often exceeding 100,000 on a weekly basis (60% of these being between 18-34 years old), over 350,000 members which consist of 143 names from labels, 6,000 artists and 121 event organizers, iNDIEVOX was the largest digital downloads and tickets marketplace of indie music in Taiwan.
There are several factors which have resulted in this unfortunate decision. As far back as 2015, Wu was highlighting the difficulties faced by iNDIEVOX, even saying then that a greater focus on commerce was likely in iNDIEVOX’s future. The difficulty in making money from a streaming service was only enhanced as this method of music consumption gained popularity, and industry heavyweights such as KKBox and Spotify constrained the space of iNDIEVOX. Alongside this, some critics have felt that in recent years the independent music scene in Taiwan has reached a saturation point, which in turn has led to a greater disinterest in hunting for new music, which has likely had a significant impact on iNDIEVOX.
From the very beginning, the mission statement of iNDIEVOX was to both instil a passion for indie music and create a supportive environment within which it could grow. From the flourishing success of Taiwanese indie music both domestically and overseas, it’s safe to say iNDIEVOX was successful in this mission, and that the importance of independent music in Taiwan’s music scene is a direct legacy of iNDIEVOX. The music scene will be poorer for its absence.
After much anticipation, Hip-Hop/Trap artist ØZI has finally released the first single from his upcoming debut album called 'Diamond'.
The highly anticipated release; which comes after a string of hit songs the high-flying newcomer has participated in including 'Walk Til We Fly走到飛' and ‘搏起Lift Up' as well as several viral singles of his own; has already broken over 200K on its YouTube music video and has kicked up a flurry of buzz over the singer's upcoming album.
'Diamond' touches on ØZI's desire to add his own new sound to the Mandopop industry, describing it as indestructible as a diamond, infusing elements of trap, gospel and the signature hip-hop sound of the 808 machine to give listeners the hit they need to listen time and again.
His spitfire raps and amazing visuals make for a attention-grabbing first single, coming just as the singer announces the release of his first debut album simple titled 'ØZI :The Album' which drops on the 4th of July.
The album boasts ten original tracks from the 21 year-old including previous hits such as 'Me Instead' and 'Paradise Island' as well as various other never before seen tracks. The future is certainly shining bright for this young artist!
'ØZI : The Album' drops on the 4th of July and is now available for pre-order on Books.TW, 5music and Jia Jia Records.
By Matt Taylor
After a two year gap since her debut album topped the charts for an entire month, celebrity and legend of Taiwanese television Regine 利菁 is back for another assault on the charts with her self-titled EP.
The three tracks follow closely in the footsteps of her 2015 debut Happiness of Happiness 快樂的快樂的快樂, and the EP is a confident collection of eurodance inspired high energy pop music. EP opener Look At Me 看我看我 is a hypnotic dance track with an addictive chorus coupled with an intensive dance routine aimed at hypnotizing the viewer. Since premiering on youtube, the official video has had over 100,000 views.
The second single from the EP Misty 迷霧 highlights that everyone in life is walking with an unclear future ahead of them, and that sometimes, we may trip and fall, however with luck the haze will clear and we can find our way forward, and the song gives the listener an opportunity to experience her irresistible husky lower octave during the verses.
The instant success of the EP has come at a cost - it apparently cost over NTD ten million (USD$314,000) to make. Regine travelled to record the EP in Seoul on three separate occasions, prepared exquisite designer clothes for the visuals, and worked with seasoned MV directors and choreographers.
Nevertheless, it seems her investment is paying off. The pre-order of the EP sold out within minutes, and upon official release stormed to the top of the charts.
The 55 year old entertainer is a pioneer in Taiwan. In 2004, it was discovered that several years earlier she had undergone gender reconstruction surgery. Rather try to brush the rumors under the carpet, Regine came out publicly, and as a result her popularity soared. Nowadays, she is seen as Taiwan’s most successful transgender entertainer, and an icon in the LGBT community.
Despite her success and crossover appeal, she said that for now, she doesn’t want to expand outside of Taiwan. In an interview with China Times 中國時報, Regine said that she feels that in recent times, many of the big singers able to put on a spectacle have began focusing their attention too much on China, leaving a dearth of this kind of performance and artist in Taiwan. As a result, she feels that she can give the audience something that is currently in short supply.
Check out Regine: The EP 利菁同名EP on Spotify now: