FU­TURE SOUL SONGS

Lee Hom Wang be­lieves pop mu­sic can de­liver more than just pure en­ter­tain­ment, and in his forth­com­ing al­bum he ex­plores the im­pact AI will have on our lives

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - MUSIC - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Clad in a black out­fit that makes him looks like a war­rior from the fu­ture, the Chi­nese-Amer­i­can singer-song­writer Lee Hom Wang un­veiled two new tracks from his forth­com­ing al­bum ti­tled A.I. Love at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing re­cently.

“It’s been two and a half years since I re­leased my last al­bum and this new al­bum is my most im­por­tant al­bum in 10 years,” Wang says.

“I’d been look­ing for a right theme for it, and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence has be­come a hot topic thanks to the achieve­ments of the big com­put­ing gi­ants dur­ing the past few years,” he ex­plains.

Dur­ing the past four years, Wang has been in­vited to at­tend the busi­ness lead­ers meet­ing in Sun Val­ley, in Idaho, the United States, which en­abled him to meet lead­ing tech fig­ures, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zucker­berg, and ac­quire the lat­est in­for­ma­tion about ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

“Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is go­ing to dra­mat­i­cally change the way ev­ery­body works in both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive ways. Will ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence lead to job losses? Will ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence take the place of hu­man be­ings? Th­ese are the kind of ques­tions I have been think­ing about,” Wang says, adding that one of his friends, the Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk co-founded a non­profit ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence re­search com­pany with the aim of de­vel­op­ing safe ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and en­sur­ing that ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence’s ben­e­fits are as widely and evenly dis­trib­uted as pos­si­ble.

“I be­lieve that pop mu­sic can de­liver more than just pure en­ter­tain­ment. So I wanted to pose those ques­tions in my songs,” says Wang.

“My song­writ­ing comes from my life, ev­ery­thing that is hap­pen­ing in my life. I al­ways want to make a dif­fer­ence with my mu­sic,” he says.

In 2007, the singer-song­writer re­leased his al­bum, Change Me, on which the ti­tle song was aimed at rais­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion aware­ness among young­sters.

“When he told us about his ideas for this new al­bum, we were sur­prised and pleased be­cause he was bring­ing some­thing un­usual and cre­ative,” says Andy Ng, vice-pres­i­dent of Ten­cent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group, which is re­leas­ing the al­bum via its seven on­line mu­sic plat­forms, such as QQ Mu­sic. “He is a mu­si­cian, who likes ex­per­i­ment­ing and new ideas. We be­lieve his fans will be pleas­antly sur­prised like us by his new ma­te­rial.”

Ng also says that his com­pany will be pro­mot­ing Wang’s con­certs in sup­port of the new al­bum.

Born in New York in 1976 to doc­tor par­ents from Tai­wan and grew up in the United States. He stud­ied vi­o­lin from a young age and per­formed in mu­si­cals at high school. He later pur­sued a de­gree in mu­sic at Wil­liams Col­lege, fol­lowed by a mas­ter’s de­gree at the pres­ti­gious Berkley School of Mu­sic.

While in univer­sity, Wang gained a record­ing con­tract in Tai­wan thanks to his song­writ­ing tal­ent and his de­but al­bum, Love Ri­val, Beethoven, which was re­leased in De­cem­ber 1995, made him a ris­ing star in Asia.

At that time, Wang, along with other Amer­i­can-born Chi­nese who re­turned to Tai­wan and be­came singers, such as the Santa Mon­i­caborn singer-ac­tor Van­ness Wu, be­came pop­u­lar in Asia with their mix of Western and tra­di­tional Chi­nese mu­sic el­e­ments.

So far, Wang has re­leased 22 stu­dio al­bums and has shared the stage with artists such as Kenny G, Justin Tim­ber­lake and Usher.

Wang’s em­brace of his Chi­nese roots is so strong that he has writ­ten Chi­nese styled R&B songs and rap in Chi­nese as well as us­ing el­e­ments from tra­di­tional Chi­nese op­eras, such as Pek­ing Opera and Kunqu Opera, into his com­po­si­tions.

Wang in­cor­po­rated one of his fa­vorite in­stru­ments, the tra­di­tional two-string bowed in­stru­ment the erhu into his new songs, to give his mu­sic an Eastern fla­vor.

“I’ve been in­spired by my par­ents’ own im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence and I feel deeply con­nected to my Chi­nese back­ground,” Wang says.

He was a torch­bearer for the 2008 Bei­jing Olympic Games and he per­formed at the clos­ing cer­e­mony.

Be­sides writ­ing and pro­duc­ing his own mu­sic, Wang has also dab­bled in movie projects. One of his most suc­cess­ful roles was as a pa­tri­otic stu­dent in Ang Lee’s 2007 movie Lust, Cau­tion.

In 2010, he pre­sented his di­rec­to­rial de­but film, Love in Dis­guise, in which he also played the lead­ing role.

In 2013, he mar­ried his girl­friend, Lee Jin­glei and they have two daugh­ters born in 2014 and 2016. Fol­low­ing their births he slowed down his work pace so he could spend more time with his fam­ily.

“Fam­ily is im­por­tant to me. When I was mak­ing this new al­bum, my wife pro­duced my mu­sic videos and I edited the film with my el­der daugh­ter sit­ting on my lap,” says Wang, adding that he also wrote songs for his daugh­ters, which are on the al­bum re­leased next month.

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