Singing on her mind
Kubert Leung shares what it is like to be Faye Wong’s concert music director.
IF THERE is one thing Faye Wong is famous for, apart from her singing and acting, it is her dislike for chatter. Wong does not like talking. She does not enjoy giving interviews. She does not even like to indulge in light banter during her concerts.
However, that seems to be changing now that she has discovered the wonders of social media. An active microblog user, the Chinese superstar even tweets during concerts. But, that is a story for another day.
It’s been seven years since the Chinese pop diva last performed in Malaysia, and Wong, 42, is set to perform here again next month.
Last Friday, the Malaysian media had a brief telephone conversation with Wong’s concert music director Kubert Leung, who has known the singer for a long time.
“We entered the industry at about the same time and had the same manager and joined the same record label. She has not changed much,” shared Leung, who said that working on Wong’s concert for a year has left him with a deep impression of the immensely private singer.
“Our creative team has designed a show to excite your senses, whether visual or aural, with elements that will give you a different feeling at various stages of her performance.”
The visuals were created by famed Taiwanese director Muh Chen with added input from internationally acclaimed Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai, and complemented with lighting effects by renowned Japanese lighting designer Mitsumasa Hayashi.
A creative sort, Leung had a tendency to describe his surreal ideas in abstract terms and preferred to keep mum over details of Wong’s upcoming show in Kuala Lumpur.
“Using the four seasons, it’s a cycle that starts with winter and continues through spring, summer and autumn, to represent rebirth. Hence, each stage in the change of seasons gives off a different vibe.
“Apart from costume changes, the song selection also changes with each stop. It all depends on her. If she’s bored with the rundown, we’ll suggest something else and she’ll mull over it.”
Does he discuss with Wong before translating abstract ideas into music?
“Actually, music is impossible to discuss. It’s something that must be worked on. We’d think up something, then I’d proceed with the ideas. I’d let her listen to it and get her feedback.
“What differentiates Faye Wong from other performers is that she doesn’t talk. Due to that, the bridging between songs has to be tighter to avoid any awkward silent pauses in between.
“Yet, because there is much to prepare as we move from one song to another, it’s all quite challenging. However, we’ve collaborated for quite some time now, so we’re familiar with each other’s idiosyncrasies.
“Once, she did grouse that there was no time to stop for even a sip of water.”
The question on everyone’s mind was “Why doesn’t Faye Wong talk?” Is it because she doesn’t like talking in general or she is too nervous to do anything but sing?
Pressed for a comment on Wong’s lack of banter, Leung said: “I think if the concert is well-organised and the show has developed its rhythm, too much talking will interrupt the flow. Since her performance mainly focuses on her vocals, there isn’t any need for her to talk.”
Admitting to feeling some pressure from her fans, she said: “Their expectations are exceptionally high, given that she has not performed in years.” (Wong took a hiatus since 2005 and only staged a comeback last year.)
Leung also had a message for concert-goers: “It’s going to be an awesome show. Please be on time for the show, so you won’t miss her entrance. Time is of the essence so we won’t be waiting for anyone.” n Faye Wong 2011 concert tour will be staged at Putra Indoor Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 6 at 8.30pm. The concert is organised by Running Into The Sun and presented by Celcom and MYEG. The remaining tickets to her show are priced at RM580, RM880 and RM1080. For details of the show and ticket reservation, contact Running Into The Sun (www.runningintothesun. com or follow them on on facebook or Twitter) or TicketCharge (www.ticketcharge.com.my).