Recently, journalist Emmanuel Félix Lesprón contacted me and provided me with an exclusive interview with one of the most promising newcomers in the Taiwanese Music industry today; singer Wang Dawen! I'm honored to have the chance to share his interview with all Asian Pop weekly readers, and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
Here's a Spanish version of the interview:
Unveiling the real Dawen-Emmanuel Félix Lesprón
Poetic and caring, funny and smart, Wang Dawen opened his heart in this interview and talks about his past, present and future.
Within two years he worked his way into the music scene, conquering the girls’ hearts and originating a new singing style that most guys love to imitate. His voice and charisma opened the doors to success for him, turning him into a big hit in Taiwan’s stages. This immediately spread in many Asian nations and many more on other continents. Suddenly we all started singing“Beautiful” (美麗) and “Let’s work it out” (練習愛情), two of his most famous songs. Little by little we all became part of the thousands of followers that at the moment, are waiting for his next album.
His name is Wang Dawen, and he received us at the Universal Music offices based in Taiwan, where he opened his heart, unveiling his passion for music, his upcoming projects and, of course, that time when his heart was broken.
E: Let’s start with the good news: congratulations on the two million YouTube visits on the video “Beautiful”. How do you feel? Was this success something you imagined would to happen while writing the song?
D: Thank you! It feels great! I am very happy; I am thrilled!
To be honest, while writing this song I wasn’t thinking of any of that. When we released the album this was the song that escalated it really quickly among the fans and then we realized actually what was going on.
E: Your second big hit, “We Can Make It” featuring Kimberley is following the same trend. How did this song happen?
D: While writing the album I wanted to write a duet. It was something that I really wanted to include in my first work in Chinese. After I finished it, I was looking for people to sing it with. I thought of Kimberley because last year she had this song that I really liked, “愛你” (I Love You). I sent her the song and she liked it. We recorded it and she brought her very personal style to the duet. It was great working with her on this song.
E: The video reflects very traditional things from Taiwan. You have the late party at the KTV, the noodles after it…
D: Yeah! Actually the video was shot in a traditional KTV place. All the videos in “你好” (Ni Hao means Hello in English) reflect very traditional things from Taiwan that I wanted to share with the people that got to see my videos.
E: When did you decide to become a musician?
D: Ever since I was 5 or 6 (years old) I liked music. Then when I went to college I studied classic music and I was deciding whether to become a Broadway-style performer or a classical singer. But then I started writing songs leading me to where I am right now.
E: Five or six years old? What were you listening back in those days?
D: I grew up listening to classical music and Disney, of course (says laughing).
E: What’s your favorite from Disney?
D: There are three that I like the most. Aladdin, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. I think those three have really good music.
E: Your music is very heterogenic. What are the basic foundations of your style?
D: Early on there was lots of music in my house. The living room had classical music so Bach, Mozart and Beethoven were always being played in the common areas.
My brother, he would have different things in his room. He was a huge fan of reggae, jazz, and rock so I also got to appreciate everything from Bob Marley and Charles Mingus to Nirvana. In my room it was all about Disney so I would listen to Fantasia, Aladdin, and The Lion King, so there were lots of things going on.
But what I think kept me grounded definitely was classical music and jazz. Those are my foundations. When I grew older I started to admire single-song writers and started to follow the work of Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman or Stevie Wonder, writers that brought to the table their own music; people who wrote their own words and told stories.
E: You have a previous record called “American Me”. Compared to “你好”, it sounds more jazzy but angrier at the same time. What life experiences led you to compose that album?
D: American Me is a reflection of the experiences that I had living through college. As I became an adult in America I started to be frustrated with certain aspects of American society. I was born in the States, but sometimes I felt discriminated against. And I took all of that frustration and put it in my music. “American Me” is bitter, quietly angry, very serious, and even hard to listen. When I moved to Taiwan my life changed a lot. These frustrations suddenly were only memories and that gave room in my life for new experiences that led me to “Nihao”.
E: Obligated question… Who is this Jay you talk about in the Homonymous song?
D: There is a song on my indie album called I Hate Jay. He is a real person and his real name is Jay. He is someone I knew that I blame for taking away someone I really liked.
(He took a moment and then he confessed)
OK… There was this girl I was really close to and things did not work out between us. He ended up dating her and this experience traumatized me; that’s why I turned it into a song. The weird thing is, he became a fan of the song. He really liked it, even though he knew I was talking about him
E: How do you define both of your works so far?
E: “American Me” and “你好” are very different in topics and they were written in different languages while I was living in different countries. “American Me” is very complex and is very jazz-structured. It is full of jazz, soul and funk and actually is not very accessible. It is very direct and heart-felt about issues and topics I related to while living in America.
“你好” is very different… very happy, very positive. It’s me writing for the first time ever in Chinese and that for me was a big challenge. It was challenging switching languages: each language has its own rhythm and beauty. Even though I spoke a little Chinese before and my parents are Mandarin speakers it was still difficult for me to grasp Mandarin creatively. So “你好” represents a whole new beginning to discover a new language to sing it.
E: What do you think about Taiwanese musicians?
D: I think my knowledge about it used to be pretty limited. While living abroad I started to follow it with David Tao, and the Taiwanese rock from the 90’s and early 2000. After I moved to Taiwan I followed Jay Chou, of course, A-Mei, JJ Lin, A-lin, and Wa Wa. I feel Taiwan music is so broad and has so much style…
E: Do you have a bucket list? Was being a singer part of it?
D: Being singer wasn’t part of it but the goal.
Still I have a couple of things I really would like to do. I want run a marathon, skydive before 50, travel more and learn more languages. I have a small bucket list.
E: More languages? How many do you speak now?
D: I can only count English and Chinese. I used to speak Spanish when I was 15 years old because back then I was living in Salamanca (Spain), but “no me acuerdo mucho”(“I do not remember much”, says laughing).
E: Spanish audiences are exactly the ones that were asking for this interview…
D: I think that’s awesome! I saw sometimes people from different countries sending messages through Facebook or Twitter and I get very surprised about the places I am getting through my music. There was once a message from Argentina… It’s crazy how music is an international language and all you need is Internet so you can listen to anything. Actually there are lots of Latin artists I admire like salsa singer La India or the old Buena Vista Social Club.
E: We see that you take lots of time to reply to your fans…
D: I love people taking time to listen to my music and I try to read everything and interact a little bit with them every day. Thanks to them I do what I love and that is the way I can share with them a little of my everyday experiences.
The singer, who had to leave to (yes fans you can calm down) write and record some of the new songs for his next album, said good bye with a big smile on his face and a final message for all of his followers:
“Thanks everyone for listening to my music and all the support. I’m working on my second album in Chinese. It’s too early to tell but… anything can happen. The mood is going to change. I’ll play a little bit of funk, but it’s going to be fun!”
Mr. David Tai.
Universal Music Taiwan.
True, David Tao is certainly far from being a boy. But to me, his music is ageless and forever youthful. Being a recent fan of his music, I only listened to his 1997 debut album a few years ago, and it amazed me how new, how fresh, how different it sounds. You know how some albums from the 80s or the 90s, or even early 2000s have that distinct sound and atmosphere to it, almost like a sluggish film over the top that distinguishes it from the rest? David’s music doesn’t have that. As I’ve slowly been collecting his albums over the years, each amazed me more and more with the creativity and timelessness of each melody, each song. I feel so privileged being able to be a fan of someone who has a gift so wonderful – the gift of timelessness. And I think the title really alludes to Tao’s magic touch. Everything he touches really does turn to gold. All his works to date except the most recent album(fingers crossed for a golden melody win!) and his Black Tangerine album(I smell a conspiracy) have been nominated and collected accolades at the prestigious Golden Melody Awards.
He also has such an amazing vision that sets him apart from other artists. He doesn’t go along with the flow like other artists; pumping out an album every year on the dot like mandopop superstar Jay Chou. He takes his time, and creates something that is truly beautiful and timeless; works that some artists may only be able to dream of. I’ve been able to replay his songs over and over again for years now; without getting sick of them. I don’t know if it’s the voice, the potent likability of the melody, or the innovation that he puts into each arrangement of a song, but I’ve gotta say; its definitely working for me.
I guess some people see it, and some don’t. But each of his albums leaves me touched and blessed for being able to hear what he has to say. It’s a piece of art, a work of love that he presents to fans (See: one liners: David Tao-Black Tangerine) that is full of inspiration, David’s thoughts and ideas all on a carefully crafted concept. The artists that I respect most are the ones who are able to tell their story through their songs. So who needs facebook, weibo or twitter when you’re David Tao? I’m honestly not upset that he doesn’t update that much on there because I’ve learnt so much about him through his music already, and I feel that that’s what’s important. Getting to know a person through their music is a wonderful feeling; hearing works that they’ve put their hearts and souls into is truly a mind-opening experience. With David I truly feel privileged to be a fan of his, and to be able to share in his spectacular visions, ideas and creativity.
Instead of the typical biography style-stuff that everyone pushes out about these artists, I would just like to give my opinion within this series of posts on why these are some of my favourite artists on the music scene, in terms of their personality, their voice, and their musical ability. Hopefully it helps people to understand more about these artists, and how each and every one of them has their own niche that makes them unique in their own way. Some of these artists may be veterans in the business, and I’m doing this to remind fans and listeners alike of their unique abilities.
Some of the short articles I will be doing/will be coming up shortly are:
-wang leehom: The heart wants what the heart wants
-elva Hsiao: Sugar and Spice
-anthony neely: The sniper
-Yen-J: Killing me softly with his creativity
-Gary Chaw: Honesty is the best policy
-David Tao: Golden Boy
-Hebe : The Dark Horse
-William Wei: The nice guy
-Genie Zhuo: not your average sweetie pie
-Rachel liang: Consistency is key
These are in no particular order, but I hope you enjoy these little introductions that I'll be providing for these artists! Stay tuned, as the first in this series will be coming out very soon!
It is my pleasure to let you know that I have opened a facebook page for Asian pop weekly so that you can be updated even more conveniently with the latest news about your favourite singers and albums! As facebook is my main source of information, I'll mainly be sharing news from the official websites of artists and providing short translations if I can about events they may be having or perhaps new albums that might be coming out soon. There are also lots of promising new singers and bands who use facebook as their main source of interaction , so I think it would make it a lot easier to introduce them to you guys!
Also I guess it would be a better platform on which you could request lyric translations , or provide me with any feedback or questions that you may have. I hope that you can support asianpopweekly by liking us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/asianpopweeklyweebly .
Thanks to all readers for your continual support and hope to see you on the facebook page soon!
This are a few of the songs that have been repeatedly played by me since the start of this year , and are some of my favourite songs that I would like to share with you! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
01. 洁癖(cleanliness)-Yen-J feat. Mayday
02.等等(Wait a little)-Olivia Ong
03.势在必行(Be Imperative)-Andrew Tan vs. Bii
04.好的情人(A good lover)-Yen-J
06.越来越爱(Love you more and more)-A-Fu
07.存在的力量(A present strength)-Miu
08.Easy Come and Easy Go-Tanya Chua Feat. Mc Hotdog
10.幸福了然后呢-(Happiness and then what)-A-Lin
11.醒了(Im awake)-Dai Ailing
12.以后要做的事 (The things we want to do in the future)-JJ Lin
13.修炼爱情(Practice Love)-JJ Lin
14.我在想(Im thinking)-Olivia Ong
16.一念之间(An idea)-David Tao
17.忘了我(Forget me)-Aska Yang
18.爱立刻(Love instantly)-Khalil Fong
19.marry me: Vanness Wu
20.不化装舞会(Dancing without makeup) -Olivia Ong