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.
The adorable, quirky, spontaneous, creative and ultimately awesome VChuan is back with his newest album <全是爱>, boasting a number of songs full of stories of love, in all its aspects. As the songwriter who shot to prominence by writing Della Ding's <我爱她> and Rainie Yang's <仰望>, it is only right that he gets a chance once again to take on the spotlight by releasing his third solo album! I'm such a big fan of his powerful and resonant vocals, his live performances don't miss the mark either!
The first single <不做坏人很久了>(Won't be a bad guy anymore) was initially written for fellow malaysian singer and friend Abin, but as it was not used, it's become the first single for VChuan's new album. A track that is all about indulging in the rock spirit; I fell in love with it on the first listen, as did many other artists such as Dawen, Lara Veronin, and Jess Lee who promoted this song and the album on their respective facebook pages to fans!
Also check out his second single, <全是爱>. I guarantee you won't be disappointed, you'll just have to listen to find out!
Dawen's been really excited about something lately; and that something is that he's going to be able to tour North America with Wanting Qu later on this year! In celebration of being able to perform with such a great artist as well as touring North America, Dawen's done up a R n B cover of Wanting's <我的歌声里>(You Exist In My Song), a refreshing take on one of the most played songs around Taipei these days. Dawen puts his own spin on it, adding a little Jazz, a little hip hop and a little acapella to make a sound which is uniquely his, and no one elses'.I'm in love with it, hope you will be too!
First of all, I would like to wish each and every reader a very Happy Valentines' day! Be it by yourself or with a loved one, Valentines day is a day where you show love not only to your partner, but also to your family, and your friends!
Today I'll be sharing some songs with you that go through different aspects of love, such as romance, a first love, a confession etc... , so I hope you like this special playlist!
Sharon Kwan-First Love
Well, from the title I think it's pretty obvious which aspect of love this song is trying to represent. It's a kind of shy love; bittersweet but at the same time pure and innocent. I'm sure many of you have experienced this feeling, and have many memories of this kind of love!
This is a surprising choice even for me, but it seems that many people are using this song to confess their love to their prospective other halves! And so far, they seem pretty successful too! (I think.) Anyway, I hope this song gives you enough energy, courage and bravery to go up to the person that you like and confess how you feel to them. So go on, what are you waiting for? Dawen sends you the best of luck!
To me, this is the perfect song that represents feelings of romance in general. So this one is for those of you who have recently been successful in your love exploits, and are able to feel the exhilarating, bubbly warmth that exudes from being in L-O-V-E. 'Nuff said. Have a listen!
Claire Kuo-The beauty of being single
Those of you out there who are jealous that you don't have anyone this Valentines' day, don't be! Take some time out to love yourself, and treat yourself! Sit back, relax and be happy. Relationships ain't all that it's cut out to be anyway-why do you think there are so many break up songs? Having no one holding you back, being independent and able to make decisions by yourself is really an infinitely important advantage, so hold on to it and treasure it while you can!
Well that concludes my Valentines' Day playlist (sorry it's pretty short). But I hope that these songs help you in some way or another, to feel the love and happiness that you should on Valentines day! Happy Valentines' Day from Asian Pop Weekly!
Dawen started out an an extremely well-polished and talented youtuber who I noticed about a year ago, when his friend and artist Rachel Liang shared his chinese cover of <Call me maybe>! He's gone on to reflect his chinese heritage by covering a lot of mainstream pop songs in chinese, but also has gained many a fan through his unique and fresh combination of acoustic arrangement and acapella vocal styles as well as lots of other kinds of genres to make a style which is uniquely Dawen. Finally, he's released his own album, and I am so proud , having seen him grow as an artist and a person throughout the years.
His first song, <你好> has a really adorable music video that combines a lot of elements of taiwanese/taipei culture as well as a very spontaneous well about it all. his happiness and the catchiness of the melody is infective , and I just couldn't help playing the song over and over!
He's also released his second music video, <美丽>(Beautiful), so be sure to check it out as well!
<Acid Rain> is a song that Dawen's professed to be one of his favourites on the album as he was able to arrange it closely to the kind of genres that he likes to listen to in his spare time. However, I recommend <Firecracker> , a song that is filled with the fiery warmth and happiness that denotes a typical Chinese new year celebration. (This is where he got the inspiration for the song from).
Also check out the MV for his new duet with Kimberley Chen <Let's work it out>, as well as his acoustic cover of <回心转意>(Changing my mind)