A KIND OF RE­VIVAL

Singer-song­writer Tanya Chua, who was in Bei­jing re­cently to an­nounce a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Univer­sal Mu­sic Group, speaks about her work

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ENTERTAINMENT - By CHEN NAN

When Tanya Chua walked into a five-star ho­tel in down­town Bei­jing re­cently, she did not ex­pect to re­view her two-decade-long mu­sic ca­reer via pho­tos, songs and videos.

“I had not re­ally looked back on what I had done as a singer-song­writer un­til this mo­ment. I am kind of proud of my­self,” says the 42-yearold Sin­ga­porean Chua, who is based in Tai­wan now.

With 10 full-length al­bums, Chua is the only Sin­ga­porean singer-song­writer, who has won the Best Man­darin Fe­male Singer three times at Tai­wan’s Golden Melody Awards, which is con­sid­ered the Grammy Awards of the Man­darin mu­sic scene.

She was in Bei­jing for a news con­fer­ence, which cel­e­brates the singer­song­writer’s lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion with Univer­sal Mu­sic Group, one of the world’s lead­ing mu­sic-based en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies.

Af­ter Chua re­leased her de­but English al­bum, Bored, in 1997, she signed up with Univer­sal Mu­sic Group, which ush­ered her into the world of Man­darin mu­sic.

“So, it (this new col­lab­o­ra­tion) feels like re­unit­ing with your first lover,” Chua says of work­ing with the record com­pany again. “I saw many fa­mil­iar faces, who are still work­ing in this com­pany. They bring back lots of mem­o­ries.”

Chua, who has re­leased hun­dreds of songs both per­formed by her­self and by other Man­darin pop singers, such as Faye Wong and Na Ying, looks for­ward to do­ing cross­over per­for­mances with mu­si­cians un­der the la­bel.

Chua has also done the theme song Pur­ple for the movie, Wukong, di­rected by Guo Zi­jian and star­ring Tai­wan ac­tor Ed­die Peng Yu-yen, which is be­ing screened across the coun­try.

Speak­ing about the song, Chua says: “Usu­ally peo­ple ask for songs to be writ­ten. But this is the first time that I was in­vited to sing a song, which I had not writ­ten.

“The song is kind of tra­di­tional and old school.

“So, the fact that I could in­ter­pret the song, which is not my style, sur­prised me.”

Now, she is pre­par­ing for an up­com­ing con­cert in Shang­hai on Aug 12.

Speak­ing about the show, she says: “I pre­fer hid­ing be­hind my mu­sic. So, it took a long time for me to learn how to per­form on­stage and how to com­mu­ni­cate through singing my own songs.”

Chua started her mu­sic ca­reer by per­form­ing in pubs and cafes in Sin­ga­pore while she was still a stu­dent at Sin­ga­pore Polytech­nic.

She did not plan to be a pro­fes­sional singer-song­writer un­til her

de­but al­bum Bored.

“I knew that I had tal­ent but I did not know how far I could go,” says Chua.

“But af­ter the first al­bum, I de­cided to take singing se­ri­ously.”

In 1998, she went to Los An­ge­les to study elec­tronic gui­tar, and a year later she re­leased her first self-ti­tled Man­darin al­bum. How­ever, the road was rocky. Her sec­ond and third al­bums, Re­mem­ber and I Do Be­lieve, earned her Golden Melody Awards nom­i­na­tions for Best New Artist and Best Fe­male Artist, but did not sell well.

So, Chua was then asked To sing songs writ­ten by oth­ers in­stead of her own ma­te­rial, which made her lose con­fi­dence.

“That was the low­est point for me as it de­vi­ated so much from why I went into the mu­sic busi­ness in the first place,” says Chua.

Then, in 2004, she moved to Tai­wan and started from scratch.

She found her­self a small record com­pany, who be­lieved in her mu­sic and told her to be her­self and write her own ma­te­rial.

She also be­came the pro­ducer of

her al­bum though she knew noth­ing about be­ing a pro­ducer then.

“I bought lots of equip­ment and taught my­self,” says Chua. “The process was lonely but re­ward­ing.”

In 2006, her al­bum, Am­phib­ian, was nom­i­nated for three Golden Melody Awards, in­clud­ing Best Al­bum Pro­ducer, and won her the Best Man­darin Fe­male Singer award.

“It was a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment. That was the mo­ment when I started to un­der­stand what my mu­sic was all about, and what it should sound like. It felt like I had come full cir­cle, though it took many years,” she says.

She be­lieves that cu­rios­ity im­por­tant in song­writ­ing.

She likes ob­serv­ing what peo­ple are say­ing or do­ing and con­sid­ers her­self a sponge ab­sorb­ing her nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

When the sponge is all soaked up, she just lets all the ac­cu­mu­lated thoughts spill out in songs.

“I have a small stu­dio at home. I lock my­self in a room for weeks. I can­not even sleep when I fo­cus on writ­ing. The melodies just play in my head over and over again,” she says. is

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Tanya Chua, 42-year-old Sin­ga­porean singer-song­writer.

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