The Malaysian singer looks back on 18 years in mu­sic with his new Man­darin al­bum.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - By SETO KIT YAN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­

A re­cent cancer scare led to Malaysian singer Z Chen re­dis­cov­er­ing his pas­sion for mu­sic and life in gen­eral.

The 44-year-old singer from Serem­ban dropped a bomb­shell at a re­cent press con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur when he re­vealed that in 2015, he had been di­ag­nosed with a 2.4cm tu­mour in his thy­roid.

For­tu­nately, the growth turned out to be be­nign, but he was told to re­turn to the hos­pi­tal for a checkup ev­ery six months. “The many months I spent go­ing in and out of hos­pi­tals made me re­alise the im­por­tance of en­joy­ing life. There is no point in mak­ing so much money – once you get sick, ev­ery­thing will be gone,” he said.

Af­ter a four year hia­tus, Z Chen fi­nally re­leased his ninth Man­darin al­bum, sim­ply ti­tled 18.

Fondly dubbed The Lit­tle Prince Of R&B, the Tai­wan-based singer prefers to record his al­bums in Malaysia. “It’s like a home­com­ing of sorts for me,” he said.

1. Why is the al­bum ti­tled 18 ?

It brings me back to the time when I was just 18y rs old, an age in­no­cence when it all be­gan. Also, it is a rec­ol­lec­tion of all my mem­o­ries from the past 18 years since I first made my de­but in mu­sic.

2. Can you share any sto­ries about the songs in your al­bum?

Af­ter I recorded Wo Ai De Ren BuAiWo (The One I Love Does Not Love Me), my pre­vi­ous part­ner asked me whether the song is about her. I said no, be­cause the song was cho­sen long be­fore this per­son came into my life.

The open­ing line goes, “Love is no­body’s mis­take, and that is why it is so heart­break­ing.” That is def­i­nitely my story.

Since my first re­la­tion­ship, I have never blamed or tried to find fault with any­one. There is no right or wrong, only a re­al­i­sa­tion of what was not meant to be.

3. You are very open when singing about your heartache. So why do you usu­ally avoid talk­ing about your re­la­tion­ships?

I have al­ways been that way even be­fore I be­came a singer.

I am a very pri­vate per­son. I pre­fer to be very low pro­file in ev­ery­thing that I do. If my part­ner wants our re­la­tion­ship to be public, then I will let peo­ple know very grad­u­ally.

It’s not just be­cause I’m a singer. Oth­ers may think that be­ing a public fig­ure means my re­la­tion­ships should be made public as well.

I don’t feel that way. For me, my per­sonal re­la­tion­ships should be kept pri­vate. Be­sides, my love life is re­ally no dif­fer­ent from any­one elses.

When the day comes for me to an­nounce my re­la­tion­ship pub­licly, then that per­son is def­i­nitely the one that I want to spend my whole life with.

4. You have said in ear­lier in­ter­views that this could be your last al­bum. Why is that so?

Be­cause it is the dig­i­tal age. Nowa­days, you can’t even play CDs in cars any­more. Some kids don’t even know what a CD is, es­pe­cially those born af­ter 2010!

Also, I feel that re­leas­ing a full al­bum of 10 songs is a waste of re­sources, be­cause we can only plug two or three songs. I don’t want that. I want to be able to give ev­ery song the at­ten­tion it de­serves.

So, un­less I find a bet­ter way to make an­other al­bum, I will not take the risk. It’s just like em­bark­ing on a new re­la­tion­ship.

Not re­leas­ing an al­bum does not mean not mak­ing mu­sic. I wish to find new mean­ing in mak­ing mu­sic, and not just pro­duc­ing al­bums.

5. Why do you like singing? How did it all be­gin for you?

The first time some­one took no­tice of me was when I was about five or six. He picked me up and put me on a ta­ble and told me to sing a song.

Then, I started par­tic­i­pat­ing in singing com­pe­ti­tions. The first time I stood on a stage was when I was in Stan­dard One. I was very ner­vous to be fac­ing such a large and noisy crowd. But as I sang, the au­di­ence started to quiet down. I re­alised then that be­cause of my slight build, I had to stand on a stage and sing in or­der for peo­ple to take any no­tice of me.

From then on, I won ev­ery singing com­pe­ti­tion I took part in. But I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber the first time I picked up a mi­cro­phone. These mem­o­ries are very im­por­tant to me. That is the rea­son for this al­bum.

Photo: Hand­out

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