Tuesday, 3 September 2013

From Asian Male ... to (Asian) Musician (Male)

My memory tricked me. But that was for the 'bigger picture'. I was certain that the singing lesson today with Mrs. Hsu was at 4:30 pm. But Mrs. Hsu's habit of cancelling, postponing, changing days and time eventually got me confused. When Ching Yao called me to say that the lesson was finished, I was just about to step into the MRT which would take me to Mrs. Hsu's office. Instead of going back home to resume my work on PLAY 2 PLAY, I decided to head to the gym. I had not climbed the last steps which lead people out of the underground that I felt a pat on my shoulder. It was Raymond Huang, a photographer friend of mine. He was waiting for his bus. 
As a point of fact, I met Raymond at Mrs Hsu's office, a year and a half ago. She had kindly given me a big studio lamp that she used years ago whenever she would need to take pictures of her jewel creations. They had since been taking the dust in the corner and when I voiced my interest in finding a similar lamp and asked her where she found it, she was quick to offer one to me. 
Weeks later, it was Raymond who benefited of Mrs. Hsu's generosity. He took away lamps, stands, tripods, flashlights... When I asked ChingYao who the attractive man was, he showed me some pictures he had taken. They were just superb! A sought-after photographer, he developed from fashion photographer to portraitist whose approach combines style and inventiveness that creates a rarely seen dynamism, particularly his pictures of classical musicians, known for their tacky taste when they step out of their music world - ("Classical musicians are boring" he told me. "That is, classical musicians in Taiwan..." he corrected.)
"You would love his studio. It's filled with CDs!!! ChingYao added. "He asks his clients to pick one to create the mood for the shooting." 
I would find out by myself as he invited me to come at his studio, shortly after. 
Indeed I immediately felt at ease in his working space. It was a set in a large old, Taiwanese flat. Nothing was ostentatious. The only obvious thing was his passion for his work. On the wall above his desk, he had pinned small sized pictures of the portraits he had done. Pop stars, models, rock bands, celebrities, film stars... They were all there!
Raymond was not a very talkative person, but everything around him spoke for him, and his world attracts me like a magnet.

"I wanted to call you!" he said with a broad smile.
"Where are you going to?" I asked
"Back to my studio... I'll attend a concert later in the evening."
I suggested to go have a cup of coffee somewhere nearby.
The last time I had seen Raymond was in June. He had come to my flat this time, and after appraising my flat for a moment, asked me to be part of his upcoming book about musicians. I gladly accepted. Selbstverständlich! He took some photos of my home so to know how he would 'stage' me. I had not heard from him since. And just yesterday, I suddenly thought of him...

We found a Starbucks Coffee and sat at table by the window. 
"I have only one month to finish the book. Four musicians left, including you."
"Then we have to do it as soon as possible, for I leave in less than two weeks for Paris!"
Raymond opened his agenda. "Next week, Thursday 12th, at 1pm!" 
The book is to be a series of five pictures for each musician who is also asked to contribute a little story about a key moment of his life. There will be an exhibition as well. "Nothing fancy. I want a homey place, not a gallery. More like a coffee shop, so people feel comfortable... Do you have any idea?" I immediately thought of Changee Café's new space in the Zhongshan area. Adrian and I had been scheduled to have our own exhibition in December and the offer came... just yesterday!
Raymond had no time left to go back to his studio, so we extended our chat for one hour. He asked me what story I had in mind for his book.
I told him about the day I attended by mistake a concert by Pierre Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the whole time fully convinced I was at the Salle Pleyel, at a concert by the Orchestre National d'Île-de-France - a lesser orchestra, to put it mildly, conducted by Jacques Mercier - nothing compared to Boulez...
I stopped. "I guess it will be too long... And Taiwanese people may not even know what and whom I'm talking about..."
Raymond nodded in agreement. "The story can be a funny one, an inspiring one..." he said.
I thought about how my magical encounter with Jo and how I came to work with him, then quickly realised that in that case too, people would have no clue.
"Some musicians have written sad stories..." Raymond went on. "Like this Aboriginal man who is a bar singer in Keelung..."
" I could tell about my paedophile piano teacher..." I mused.
We both laughed.

The last photo shoot I did was with Norm Yip last year, when I had to sweat under the projectors in my birthday suit for the third volume of his Asian Male series. It seems that the book will have to wait a little while longer before seeing the day and I'm not displeased to feature instead in a book about musicians!  

No comments:

Post a Comment