‘Hello’ Taiwan!

Hello_albumcover

Hello! Dawen here. When I wrote this I was blogging from thousands of feet up in the air, somewhere across the Pacific.  I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to be returning home to the States after being away for nearly two years. On Tuesday March 25th I’ll be joining Canadian singer-songwriter Wanting in Seattle, as part of the West Coast leg of her Say The Words Tour. We kicked it off in Los Angeles and continued to San Francisco and then Portland by tour bus.

Wantingtour
So how on earth did I get here?  It seems so unreal to me sometimes when I think about it. The short end of it: About three years ago, famed Taiwanese music producer Adia saw my cover of Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” (produced by my brother George Wang) on YouTube and passed it along to Universal Music Taiwan.  Universal Music then contacted me through YouTube to ask about my musical background. You can imagine how skeptical I was when I first received a message like that —  a short one sent through YouTube from someone claiming to be Universal. I thought it was a joke, initially. I soon realized that the inquiry was legitimate, and after extensive video chats and a trip to Taipei, I signed with Universal Music Taiwan in 2012.

Upon arriving in Taipei, the first thing I did was enroll in Chinese language class. Although I considered myself bilingual, I quickly realized that my conversational vocabulary was seriously lacking. And if my goal was to someday write lyrics as well as music in Chinese, I would have to improve my speaking and writing comprehension. I went to school for six months, all the while working to expand my fluency.  The following year was a series of personal and cultural developments that culminated in my debut Mandarin album Hello (Nihao) on Christmas Eve of last year.

Universal Taiwan

Hello is distinctly different from my indie album American Me. Nine of the album’s ten songs were written after moving to Taiwan and are in Mandarin. Writing in Mandarin also meant that I had to completely reconsider how I think about melody and how it relates to culture. At first I would write in English and translate it to Chinese, but often the result wasn’t very good — so I abandoned that method very early on (which goes to show that just because something sounds good in English, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will sound good in another language).

The title track ‘Hello’ was the first time I ever tried writing completely in Chinese, and you can hear how rudimentary and direct the lyrics are.  ;)  Musically, Hello features more acoustic Pop, in contrast to the R&B /Soul of American MeHello is not a complete 180 though, in terms of style. ‘Acid Rain’ features a groove that is very much in the vein of American Me, and my song ‘Shoes’ (the only English language track on the album) that I wrote for Kollaboration Acoustic 4 back in 2010  — was finally recorded and points to my earlier jazz-influenced piano style.

Dawen王大文-1

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I do want to acknowledge how important the Asian American community has been to me and how grateful I am to each and every one of you who have supported me from all the beginning. A particular shout out goes to the blogosphere: Bicoastal Bitchin’, AngryAsianMan, 8Asians, A-Tunes, not to mention my fam at TaiwaneseAmerican.org, Kollaboration and Tuesday Night Project!! I love you guys and can’t wait to see you all.

Hello is out on iTunes and Spotify, so give it a listen when you get the chance. The other person I want to acknowledge is my older brother George. In addition to knowing me for as long as I’ve been alive, Geh has been my best friend and number one supporter, as well witness to all the past highs and lows. It’s safe to say that if he didn’t light that fire under my ass I would not be on this flight coming home. I couldn’t wait to land at LAX, meet my brother, smother Sweet Pea the dog, and take my shoes off when I got in the door.

Happy New Year! (Courtesy of R. Kelly)

BCB wishes all y’all readers a prosperous Year of the Snake — filled with happiness, good fortune, and ssssssmexinessss. And who better to embody this last quality than Sir R. Kelly himself:

A perfect New Year’s ditty to sing ’round the banquet table with your family and loved ones.

Gung Hay Faht Choy! 恭喜發財! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Thanks MY and AZNHeartthrob!

Croon, Jamie Woon!

Ok, I’m probably hella tardy to the party on this guy, but I’m kinda officially an old person who has abandoned all hope for keeping up with the jams favored by youffs of today. But now and again I’ll pause my riot grrrl and Jodeci remix cassettes long enuf to hear some NEWNOWNEXT music that doesn’t make me scratch my chin and stamp my K-Swiss in confusion. Rather, it reminds me why I shouldn’t be one those annoying “I only listen to music from {random yesteryear decade}, back when music was GOOD. Pffft” type of people.

Case in point: Jamie Woon, a British Malaysian Chinese/Scottish singer/songwriter/producer, whose debut album Mirrorwriting is a striking blend of haunting, soulful, and groovy. Souvy? Graunting?? YES.

 

If you’re a fan of James Blake or just like purty boys who can croon til the cows come home, then Woon is your dood.

Noddy and ‘Yes on 74′

This November in Washington state, approval/rejection of gay marriage will be on the ballot under Referendum 74. Even though a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was passed and signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire back in February, the day before the law was to take effect, haters and basic b*tches submitted enough signatures to put personal choice and marriage rights up for public vote.

In response, local organizations and musicians have been advocating for approval of Referendum 74, including my own band Noddy. Theez Queens just released our new EP Yes on 74, which is available for download — with all proceeds through October 31st benefiting Washington United for Marriage. So subject yourself, won’t you — to the sickening, exxxtravagant, everythang sounds of Noddy (backup yodelin’ and (butt)trumpeting courtesy of yours truly). No tea no shade, it’s for a good cause. YASS hunty, and YASS on 74! Let’s get our marriage on!

Sakura-Con J-Pop Extravaganza!

Since the Asian Americans behind this blog don’t know shit about Japanese pop culture, this guest post is brought to you by special J/K Pop correspondent, lace front-wearin’ Sakura fashion model, and BCB Affirmative Action Fellow, Reese Umbaugh aka Bishie Reesie.

Beginning today, all of downtown Seattle will be flanked by cosplayers, otakus, and tons and tons of adults in Pokémon costumes. That’s right: It’s Sakura-Con weekend. For those unfamiliar, Sakura-Con is Seattle’s annual three-day anime convention held at the cavernous Washington State Convention & Trade Cener. Programming includes panels on everything from voice acting to Japanese cooking, RPG and tabletop gaming, fashion shows (more on that in a later post!), and J-pop concerts.

Much like my previous post on K-pop, I’d like to take a moment in honor of Sakura-Con weekend and share with you my 5 favorite J-pop bands, in no particular order:

Stereopony:

If you are a fan of anime, there’s a damn good chance that you’ve heard a song by Stereopony. They basically have the anime theme song market on lockdown, having done theme songs for Gundam, Bleach, and Darker Than Black. They’re also note-worthy for being an all-female rock band, which makes them instantly badass. If you’re into it and heading to Sakura-Con then you’re in luck! Stereopony will be performing tonight at 6:30PM. Not able to make it? Good news, they’re also live-streaming the show. More info here.

The Pillows:

Man, I love me some Pillows. I remember being in high school and spending a hefty chunk of change to import this record from Japan. I’d blast it in my car on full volume with my windows down and other kids would stare me down. I finally saw The Pillows live in a shitty Seattle venue last fall and they blew my face off.

Perfume:

Originally formed in 2001, Perfume has slowly taken over the Japanese pop world. Recently signing on with Universal in order to release their music internationally, the girls seem poised for worldwide success. Fun Fact about Perfume: They formed the group themselves as teenagers, without being put together by a record company. This video stands as one of my favorites of all time.

Shonen Knife:

The song above is called “I Am a Cat”. That is all.

The Seatbelts:

Less a band and more a force of nature, The Seatbelts is composed of over a dozen members and helmed by the musical Goddess of anime: Yoko Kanno. Nothing makes me want to run in the opposite direction quite like the words “jazz band”, but The Seatbelts are so much more than that. They span genres, have songs in multiple languages, and make some of the craziest music I have ever heard.

See you in the mosh pit at Sakura-Con!

Adam WarRock X Downton Abbey = Bloomers Blown

Nerdcore rapper Adam WarRock — aka Eugene Ahn — flows about comic books, sci-fi (he made a mixtape inspired by Joss Whedon’s Firefly), and most recently — British TV series Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey is my meth. My favorite activity as of late (besides unnecessarily inserting terms like “as of late” into conversation) is to chin-palm and daydream about The Dowager Countess’ wicked quips, Cousin Matthew and Lady Mary’s incestuous sexual tension, and how delightfully bitchy those three sisters are to each other. I have stayed inside on Saturday nights in New York City to watch bootleg DA episodes on a grainy, stuttering stream on my laptop. I’m not generally into shows about romance ‘n’ junk, but I AM a huge sucker for period dramas, old-timey wardrobes, and repressed feelings.

So in response to this rap, I have to say to Adam WarRock: THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH M’LORD, for bringing together the wonderful worlds of hip hop and WWI-era British society’s class tensions and fading traditions of the aristocratic landed gentry.

Some of my fave lyrics include:

I GOT A BLACK HEART LIKE MARY, LADY — STAY WEARY!

AND I LEAVE EM LIKE PAMUK IF THESE RAPPERS TRY TO QUIBBLE.

Friday Fuckery: North Korean “Take on Me”

Think you’ve heard A-ha’s “Take on Me” so many times that you’ll gouge your eyeballs out next time it comes on in the frozen meats section?  Well, you can handle hearing it once more, especially because this version is pretty boss. Five North Korean students cover the iconic ’80s song and enhance it in the best way imaginable…with accordions.

Now if only they could star in their own pencil-sketch/live action music video: