Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Music As A Diary To A-Mei's Life

When I was asked to interview A-Mei, I was somewhat trepidatious at first. Anyone who's followed what I've done over the years knows that I tend to avoid anything Pop, let alone a Pop Diva. These things tend to be so removed from the lives and experiences of the average working musician that have been at the heart of what MusicDish is all about. But as the interview started, I realized that A-Mei is lightyears away from the pop queen caricature. Rather, I was facing an open, engaging and sincere person with a story at the heart of what life and music is all about.

What immediately connected us was our shared aboriginal roots (mine being Native American course), which has provided the inspiration to her music. While not professionally trained, she'd grown up surrounded by music her entire life. "I have never learnt to sing or dance, they are just ever-present parts of my native tribe, the Ami (from whence she derived her stage name)". Music is thus innate to her, not just a profession or career. "Singing is a way for me to express my feelings and emotions. Music is a critical part of my life."

Those Taiwanese aboriginal roots have also given A-Mei a truly unique and open approach to her singing and music, which is influenced by the people and experiences that have touched her. "If I was moved by something, I would choose to write a song about it. I like to observe life and learn from it. It is a constantly occurring inspiration." As such, her music is a recording of her own personal life, which draws power and energy from those close to her. "I frequently find inspiration from the people surrounding me, such as my family and friends. Their experiences always reflect distinct kinds of lives."

Over my month-long trip through Taiwan-China-Singapore, I was able to witness first-hand that special connection A-Mei has with her fans that is drawn from the sincerity and raw emotions of her songs. To a large extent, it reminds me of the relationship between Lady Gag and her 'little monsters.' "I think the reason my fans have supported me over the years is that I've never changed my attitude towards music. I want to dedicate my life to my music. For me, what I love and what I want are all pursued through music. I keep growing and transforming through every stage of my life, which I wish to share with my fans. I've insisted on mainting my own music style for so long that I can't be easily manipulated by the latest trends or commercial interests."

While sharing these intimate emotions of pain, sorrow and happiness with her audience, she still manages to maintain a semblance of privacy. "There exists a limitation how much of my emotions I can share. I want to share all my emotions through my music, but sometimes I have to learn to hold them back. My experiences and people are changing with the lapse of time; I would like to share these changes with all."

Being greater China's Mando-Pop Queen for more than 15 years, A-Mei has the three-words to her longevity in music: passion, love and happiness. She doesn't care about being compared to others; it's more important for her to just keep doing music in her own way.

When I ask her if she feels that she's inspired other musicians, she remarks that her music and those of younger musicians' have actually influenced each other. She recalls the Taiwanese indie bands 'Luan Tan' that has been an inspiration for her. A-Mei's advice to young people who want to aspire to success in music is to have real passion and work their heart out. But they also need to know how to balance their dreams with reality. "I think that if you find your true passion in music, you should keep walking on that path. But along the journey, you should also be prepared for failure. Not everyone who works hard will succeed and it may take years with several setbacks. You therefore really need to learn to face that fact."

In the end, A-Mei reminds her fans to love life. Her philosophy is that it's the tiny moments in our daily life that are precious and inspirational. And she's not only happy to grow with her fans, she's honored to do so. "Although I haven't met many of the fans who have supported me for over the years, I can feel the resonance between us, which I cherish a lot."

For my part, the interview with A-Mei was a high point of the trip. Her sincerity and honesty were simply disarming and I felt a true connection to the person behind the Mando-Pop Queen. I look forward to taking up her invitation to sing and dance with her tribe into the night.


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