DAVID @ MTV
Okie this english MTV interview has been around for sumtime & dun noe why I nvr post it. Its quite good & u learned more abt David to admire. Oso its a lot more fair & realistic than most of the chinese writeups on him.
The Art of Tao
By Lennat Mak
Long before Jay Chou came to dominate the Mandarin music scene with his unique mumbling vocal style, David Tao has already been there and done that. Both his previous albums -- the self-titled debut and It's Ok -- not only won him critical acclaim, it also ignited a huge interest in Mandarin R&B, which eventually paved the way for new blood like Jay Chou. After a three-year hiatus, David finally makes a comeback with Black Tangerine, an album that strongly confirms David's longevity in the music scene. MTVAsia.com's Lennat Mak sat down with the 2003 MTV Asia Awards nominee for a short chat about his latest album, his passion for music, the boy band trend in the Mandarin music scene and more. Read on...
How has Chinese R&B changed over the years?
There really is a lot Chinese R&B but I don't really consider myself R&B. I think Jay (Chou) is doing more R&B than I am. Honestly, aside from a few other people, there isn't really that much new R&B in the Chinese market. I think R&B isn't just a style of music. It's an attitude and its supposed to evolve, it's supposed to grow. R&B needs to find its roots in Asia.
Do you think there's an R&B root in Asia?
I think there is. But I don't think it's the same root. I think you go not to its musical roots, but back to what R&B is trying to express at its core. What were Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Stevie Wonder trying to express through their music? Then you find out if we can express the same thing or similar emotions -- that passion, that love, that extremely emotional outpour. Can we express that in Chinese music? We can. And I think in that sense, you will find R&B. It's not a particular kick drum or a particular sound. R&B is evolving. Unless we find that R&B music in Asia -- Chinese R&B, Japanese R&B, Korean R&B will always be a copy. It's not going to grow, just like dead hair.
You always do a remake of a classic Chinese song on your album. Do you have a particular liking for them?
I actually don't have a liking to cover those songs. I did it because I think it's a good way to instantly change people's views on old Chinese songs. "Ye Lai Xiang" is a very classic hit and "Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin" is a Chinese song that every Chinese would know -- even an ABC (American Born Chinese) would know. But it's a song that's been done so many times in a very, very distasteful manner. How do we give it a new life? How do we make young people who arent that familiar with that song to appreciate it, dig our own past and find those gems? I didn't do it because I like the song. I mean, I don't hate the song. But I do, sometimes, to challenge people's opinions on old songs. On the first album, I did "Wang Chun Feng" and on that song I try to twist it even more lyrically. It sometimes satirizes the song a little and it also satirizes old Chinese ways of thinking and maybe to attack them a little.
Is there a particular reason why you named your latest album Black Tangerine?
Tangerine is actually a fruit that's indigenous to Taiwan. Actually, I think they have them everywhere. It's different from an orange. The tangerine, to me, always symbolizes Chinese people, even though it's not available in every place where Chinese people are. It's not because of the color, its because it's not available in the States. And why black? I think the current state of Chinese people is very grim and very black. And why did I say that especially in light of the fact that we have such a great economy, where we have become such a great powerhouse in the world, and being held up by the West? I think it dark and bleak coz of the culture -- we are very weak and we lack identity. We may be an economic or military powerhouse but in terms of everything else, we are very weak. I think a country or a race without humanity, without love, without arts, without self-expression is a country and race of violence. That's something I want to address.
Track 2 of the new album is a clipping of news reports. I heard it nearly got banned?
In Taiwan it nearly got banned. In China, it is banned.
So is it a freedom of expression thing or... ?
The thing is, it got banned for a strange reason. In China, it got banned because it's Taiwan's news clippings and they didn't want their people to be able to hear that even though they can watch it on satellite television all the time. It got banned in Taiwan because a lot of the TV stations that I sampled those clippings from didn't want that type of news getting out. People think "Hey, that TV station broadcasts such negative news." So I didn't think its much of a censorship thing. But I do think we do have a lot freedom to express ourselves but yet in a way, we don't. We don't care enough to say anything important. All we seem to say are love songs, commercial albums, products, KTV, karaoke, and yet nobody is doing songs that have anything to do with the society or the world. It's all about me, me, me, me, me. It's not about the world or the society. And I wanted Black Tangerine to be an album not about me but about what's happening in the world.
Are there plans for an English album?
There are. But I'm still thinking about what I want to do with an English album. In some ways, I don't know what's the purpose, or who my target audience is. Do I do cover songs? Do I do original songs? What do I do? I don't know. I'm not trying to break the U.S. market with an English album. If I were to do one, I would like to do something I really want to do. I don't want to do it especially right now, there's no market for it.
Are you working on any side projects apart from Tension?
There are a couple of new artists but I haven't really had the time. I do have some a few other projects that are not my own like Karen Mok and Tony Leung.
What do you think of the sudden trend of boy bands brought on by F4?
I have nothing against boy bands or any group that have a mass idol appeal. I just wish that they were done a bit more musically. A good example is *NSYNC. They are a very popular boy band but musically they do have something to offer. Maybe it may not be up everyones alley but Justin Timberlake is actually a very talented guy. I think if we were to do groups like that in Asia, why can't we have both good looks and good music? We need to have a long-term approach for all artists. And I think record companies do not have a long-term approach. Part of the reason is that they don't have good A&R people to develop these artists. That's why they come out with two or three albums and boom! They are done.
On your first album, there's mention of "Taoism" (wordplay on his name). So what is Taoism to you now as a whole?
Taoism for me is about love. Not love between a man and a woman but love in the world. It's about humanity. I don't want to just keep doing albums, have them sell, get awards, do concerts and make another album, get awards, do concerts, do another album again and have it repeated. I really want to do something in the years that I have. I think this is a God given opportunity. All my talents, or whatever you want to call them, they are all God given. I work hard. I think it's a mission. I'm here to do something and it's not for myself. And I hope to do that in the years to come.
2 things happened dis week that kinda reaffirm why David been trying to get across. First is the Ashlee Simpson 'lipsynching' fiasco & Ella of SHE breaking down in tears in public from pain & exhaustion. Real music shouldn't involved so much pain, shame & tears. *sigh* maybe I am sounding preachy again but these r real girls who r suffering when they should be enjoying their youth & talents.