Desert in Bloom

CEL­E­BRATED TAI­WANESE SINGER-SONG­WRITER Deserts Chang WILL GRACE HONG KONG WITH HER DUL­CET, EX­PER­I­MEN­TAL TONES THIS MONTH AT CLOCK­EN­FLAP

Hong Kong Tatler - - Small Talk -

Her pure, soul­ful vo­cals, thought-pro­vok­ing lyrics and in­die-folk im­age have gar­nered Deserts Chang a rep­u­ta­tion as Asia’s Patti Smith. This month, the Tai­wanese singer­song­writer and her band, Al­gae, ser­e­nade Hong Kong with their mel­liflu­ous tones at the Clock­en­flap mu­sic fes­ti­val, which takes place from Novem­ber 28 un­til 30 at West Kowloon Cul­tural Dis­trict. Beau­ti­ful and anti-es­tab­lish­ment, this al­ter­na­tive fe­male voice has been com­pos­ing mu­sic since she was 13 years old and has toured to London, Paris, Toronto, Van­cou­ver, Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia and nu­mer­ous ci­ties in China. Last year Chang took home the three most cov­eted gongs at the Top Chi­nese Mu­sic Awards— China’s an­swer to the Gram­mys. The 33-year-old, who also plays gui­tar, won Best Singer­Song­writer, Best Lyri­cist and Best Song Pro­ducer. No great artist is with­out con­tro­versy, how­ever, and Chang isn’t afraid of court­ing it for causes about which she feels pas­sion­ate. She re­cently bran­dished a Tai­wanese na­tional flag on stage dur­ing a per­for­mance in Manch­ester, Eng­land, pro­vok­ing a so­cial me­dia storm from her main­land Chi­nese fans. Chang per­forms on Novem­ber 30. CLOCK­EN­FLAP.COM

YOU’RE OF­TEN DE­SCRIBED AS THE PATTI SMITH OF CHI­NESE MU­SIC. DO YOU IDEN­TIFY WITH THE COM­PAR­I­SON TO THE AMER­I­CAN MU­SIC ICON?

No, I don’t. What I have done in my life so far re­ally isn’t worth this de­scrip­tion. Let’s just leave those beau­ti­ful peo­ple like Patti Smith alone.

LAST YEAR YOU GEN­ER­ATED CON­TRO­VERSY WHEN YOU HELD UP A TAI­WANESE NA­TIONAL FLAG ON STAGE. WERE YOU SUR­PRISED BY HOW FIERY CHI­NESE FANS’ RE­AC­TIONS WERE?

It hap­pened in an ac­ci­den­tal way, but I can’t say I’m sur­prised about the re­ac­tion since [ Tai­wanese peo­ple and main­land Chi­nese peo­ple] are brought up in two such dif­fer­ent so­ci­eties. I think this just re­veals how im­por­tant it is to re­alise that ev­ery­one is an in­di­vid­ual, and we don’t al­ways have to be de­fen­sive about the dif­fer­ences be­tween us. I don’t feel sad about what hap­pened. My au­di­ence al­ways teaches me things in dif­fer­ent ways, and I cher­ish this.

SOME CRIT­ICS HAVE AC­CUSED YOU OF POLITI­CIS­ING MU­SIC. DO YOU THINK MU­SIC SHOULD BE PO­LIT­I­CAL OR SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO EX­PRESS YOUR­SELF PO­LIT­I­CALLY THROUGH YOUR MU­SIC?

No, I don’t think mu­sic should be po­lit­i­cal. But per­haps I’ll ask another ques­tion: Why is it that mu­sic just shouldn’t talk about pol­i­tics what­so­ever, or else it be­comes po­lit­i­cal? I think what makes mu­sic beau­ti­ful is that it shows ev­ery­thing about how we live and what we feel along the way. But I haven’t ac­tu­ally writ­ten any­thing overtly po­lit­i­cal, or to serve a po­lit­i­cal agenda.

SO WHAT DOES IN­SPIRE YOUR WRIT­ING?

Pretty much ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in my life— and the process of get­ting to know my­self more from any given mo­ment each day.

IS THERE ANY ONE ARTIST THAT HAS PAR­TIC­U­LARLY IN­FLU­ENCED YOU?

There re­ally are too many to men­tion. Some have changed my life with just one song.

ARTIST WITH AT­TI­TUDE

Songstress Deserts Chang; on stage with her band

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