Friday, 27 November 2009

Z&A / A&Z - msn conversation II


Zen Tan dit :
It’s okay, big brudd,a I might be a lil bit paranoid, he he!
I might be going to Taipei at year end!

孫仕安 dit :
I'm truly sorry about that.
I know it's not the same in Malaysia compared to other places. I should be aware of that!
Zen Tan dit :
No no!
It's not about the Malaysian culture or whatsoever
In fact many people don't care about that
It's just me myself
cuz I have some people in my list and I don't wish them to see the pics
孫仕安 dit :
... and you haven't told them all about yourself?
What do the pics have? It's just you smiling with friends!
I mean, there are tons of pics with guys being shirtless at parties...
Anyway, I hope it didn't cause any trouble
That’s the last thing I want to do!
I'm glad you're coming
Hope I'll see you
Zen Tan dit :
I don’t mind to be topless! HAHA! But not at parties
Beach holiday topless pics are fine.
孫仕安 dit :
Oh really?
Zen Tan dit :
 But not party pics
孫仕安 dit :
I thought you were a raging circuit boy:
And the sight of shirtless you wouldn't harm anyone, quite on the contrary!
Or they're hypocrits!
Zen Tan dit :
I am never a circuit boy
Since when was I one ?
孫仕安 dit :
Don't know.
I'm glad to learn you're not
Zen Tan dit :
Nothing wrong to be one
孫仕安 dit :
Zen Tan dit :
I'm not here to judge
孫仕安 dit :
mmmwell, it's not a question of right and wrong
Zen Tan dit :
And I never know, would I be one in the future? But at least I'm not now. I do go to parties, but I don’t fancy parties that much. yeap
孫仕安 dit :
It makes me sad to see them waste their health like that with drinks and drugs.
It's like they make all these efforts going to the gym, looking athletic just to sink into unconsciousness.
The more I go out, the more I feel like a Martian watching human beings!
That's why I said I was glad you were not a circuit boy
You have too much to do with your music!
How's your music by the way?
Zen Tan dit :
he he
I think it’s a matter of preferences
Maybe these circuit boys, they like that…
I assume that they are pretty much aware of it, but they just like it
孫仕安 dit :
I don't know…
I  wish to believe that. I am just not convinced
Anyway, that's my own problem.
In any case, I hope you'll have time to meet up when you come.
Zen Tan dit :
I want to see you!
It's been nearly 2 years since I saw you
孫仕安 dit :
Well, it will be 2 years. I didn't grow a second head, don't worry!
Zen Tan dit :
Neither did I!
孫仕安 dit :
Maybe you got more buffed
... Anyway, it will be a pleasure to see you again
Oh dear, I feel like a blushing teenager when I say that, haha!!
Zen Tan dit :
I've gained some weight, definitely.
Hahaha! I'm getting older!
Metabolism rate plummets.
孫仕安 dit :
Zen Tan dit :
he he
No, I’m serious!
No more twinky Zyan
孫仕安 dit :
You have even more bulging muscles then
I'll call you the Incredible Zulk!
The most important is that I see you
And you never were 'twinky' anyway. More hunky, I would say... or stud-y...?
You'll age gracefully!
But please... 
How old are you now?
Zen Tan dit :
I was never that hunky O_O
I can't be that hunky, or else I would look too plump for that, he he
孫仕安 dit :
That's baby!
I'm turning 40 next year...
So much with that age thing
Zen Tan dit :
He he! I thought you were turning 30 next year.

孫仕安 dit :
How much do you do you want? How much did they pay you? Who paid you?
Zen Tan dit :
ha ha ha ha
U always look great big brudda!

孫仕安 dit :
You haven't seen me for the past two years, how could you know?
Oh, let's stop that vanity talk! It makes me feel really shallow! lol
You're a handsome bloke, whatever your age, full stop!
.... and I love your smile
Little boy smile…
With your dimple!
So cute!
Zen Tan dit :
he he
I should appreciate what I have
I used to hate myself for looking too boyish
孫仕安 dit :
You have more than you need, fella
So treasure that!
Zen Tan dit :
Sometimes I think it doesn't match with my age. And looks can be deceiving. But again, whatever it is, this is me
孫仕安 dit :
Zen Tan dit :
And I don’t look that boyish anymore, so... haha!!!
孫仕安 dit :
Zen Tan dit :
I'm fine. And yes, we should stop talking about how we look like
孫仕安 dit :
How recent is that picture there?
Hey!!!! You WENT ON!!!!

Zen Tan dit :
U mean the display pic?
2 months ago
孫仕安 dit :
It's not my fault...
Zen Tan dit :
Yes my fault!

孫仕安 dit :
Well, okay, I will not listen to your blah blah about how unboyish you are, because two months ago, you were still boyish.
I don't see any change... and it's a snapshot
Zen Tan dit :
孫仕安 dit :
.... unlike my picture where we studied the light etc...
so you are real
Zen Tan dit :
Only judge when you see me in Taipei! Full stop.
孫仕安 dit :
Full stop...
Full stop!
Zen Tan dit :
孫仕安 dit :
I'm so vain...
Zen Tan dit :
 We are all vain
孫仕安 dit :
It must be age
But you know, it starts to drive me crazy, when each time I meet someone, they ask my age. And then it's the usual scene of disbelief: "What? really???", blah blah blah...
I try to find diversions. Like asking them their opinion on the situation in Ivory Coast
But they don't get the humour. (sigh)
Zen Tan dit :
Did that only happen in Taipei?
孫仕安 dit :
No. Everywhere, actually
Zen Tan dit :
Or maybe I should say:
Asian countries?
孫仕安 dit :
It's like a number one hit at the moment. I hear it all the time
Zen Tan dit :
I understand
I hear ya big brudda!
孫仕安 dit :
... Like 'nobody nobody but you'
Zen Tan dit :
孫仕安 dit :
Yesterday, the girl at the restaurant got stuck with it and played that song 7 times!!!!!
Zen Tan dit :
That's sure a viral hit.
孫仕安 dit :
Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !
Zen Tan dit :
Oh gosh.
孫仕安 dit :
Maybe she was practicing the moves…
Zen Tan dit :
I would lodge a complaint if I were u
孫仕安 dit :
Now there are two clans...
Zen Tan dit :
I think she was!
孫仕安 dit :
Those practicing nobody nobody but you and those practicing sorry sorry sorry sorry
What a world!!
Zen Tan dit :
Oh gosh...
孫仕安 dit :
And the most terrible thing is that it's contagious!
Zen Tan dit :
In fact these 2 songs are everywhere in Asia
How scary is that?
孫仕安 dit :
I like Super Junior...
For the joke I even bought a t-shirt 'I love Super Junior' in Thailand
Now the question is: will I have the guts to wear it?
I have a 'I love fish balls' t-shirt
Zen Tan dit :
Yes you wore that when you came to see me, remember? You bought it in Hong Kong
孫仕安 dit :
And then a wicked friend of mine said 'Oh that's so gay!'
I asked why. He said: because the place where you bought it is known to be populated by gays
Go figure.... I thought there wasn't anything more 'straight' than fish balls... sigh...
I'm discovering Marc Almond's lyrics, they're quite fab.
I didn't know he wrote so well.
My ex bf befriended him recently and has been sending me lots of lyrics saying that there were many similarities between us
so how's your music going?
You'll tell me another time
So happy
Take care
I'm glad we've chatted today! 

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Tree called me to inform me that Echo was giving a concert. The event was entitled Britpop night, whatever that meant I didn’t quite figure, and the gig took place near the Taipei University, at a venue called Wall.
It was overcrowded. The bad played well. The lead singer sang well. He wore a stylish jacket and a red shirt with smashing shoes to match. A very cool bloke he was, I thought. I detected a strong Brett Anderson vocal mannerisms - certainly coming from in his admiration for the singer. It was even more uncannily striking when he would sing a Pulp song. Britpop night it was for they played many songs from Muse, Radiohead, Suede, Oasis and of course Pulp. I wish I could have heard more of their own music.
By the end of the non stop 140 minute long gig, the singer committed the mistake to overstay on stage and sing numbers that weren’t quite well prepared when the best move would have been to leave the crowd wanting for more. However the concert gave me lots of ideas and left me to admit one crucial thing: I badly needed to play music, to sing and perform. It had been too long!
Tree introduced me to the singer backstage  - what’s his name already… but after two hours of concert, he was exhausted and deeply upset about getting out of control and singing these unnecessary songs. I recognized a perfectionist attitude and could totally relate to that. We’ll set up to meet again another time. I’d be very interested to work with him. 
Tree claims he’s the smartest guy in the indie scene. He does a lot to promote the independent music scene in Taiwan and has launched a website to feature all the new acts that comes.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


My friend Jun took me to see a Swedish film that was presented at the Golden Horse Festival: Patrik aged 1.5 by Ella Lemhagen. This film was apparently adapted from a three-person stage play about a gay couple who after facing much discrimination in their process to adopt a child eventually get cleared and are about to welcome a 18 month old baby named Patrik in their new suburbian home, only to discover that there has been a little typographical error, the 1,5 year old Patrick turning out to be a 15 year old homophobic juvenile deliquent.  This tale of tolerance and gradual understanding isn’t new, but the way the director handled it is just superb with great performance from all the actors. Never is it sentimental and syrupy. The photography is just astounding.
The next film I want to see is Thirst, by South Korean Park Chan-wook, one of my favourite directors who ‘committed’ Old Boy and I’m a Cyborg, but it’s OK.
The film was released in France just shortly after my departure for Taipei, so I’m glad they’re showing it here in Taipei - oh but there will be no English subtitle...

I finally managed to see Tree! I only met him once last time I was in Taipei. He had released a very good book about his take on music as a music journalist. Alas I didn’t understand much since it was written in Chinese, but I started exchanging with him and we have become good friends thanks to the wonder of the internet.
He wants to introduce me to a Taiwanese indie-pop band called Echo. They have their own studio, their own music label and have launched a website to promote independent bands. 
Sandee Chan said that I didn’t need to have a record company because I knew what I wanted to do and could do it by myself. Yet I need the support and the financial means to make this album become real. 
I find it frustrating to be in such a fragile position where I can't decide anything. Lack of means, or lack of clear aim?
I can't just stand on one spot, so I will go wherever the road takes me to.
I went through the same path when I did Circlesong, depending on the kindness of those who believed enough in me to give me their time and experience.
Will it be the same for this album? Anyway, first are the songs. I should focus on that.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Went to the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) today to see an exhibition entitled Funky Light. Digital art, Audio-visual and interactive installations as well as screening of a few shorts. Nothing really new under the sun, but I enjoyed the dynamism of the place and see all this young crowd have the curiosity and make the effort to come and watch. The place is very nice. An old building that has been turned into an intimate place for artistic exploration and research. 
My friend Kun-lin told me he wanted me to collaborate with some local dance company for a white night at the MOCA next April. I haven’t heard anything form him since. I know there’ll held a David LaChappelle exhibition at that time. It will be nice to have his photographs as a backdrop for the performance.

My ideas are getting clearer for The Tales of Hoffmann. I have focused more on the three acts with the women: Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta. There will be an aria for each act - it’s a ballet after all. I’m still wondering whether I should have the same singer or three different singers for the female parts. I hope Isabelle will be up to it and be vocally ready. I know she will be perfect for Olympia, maybe for Antonia as well. I already have Antonia death scene in my mind!
However the problem arises with Giulietta. For some strange reason, I hear big Japanese drums. Something solemn and ritualistic. The part is of a prostitute who never reveals herself and manipulates Hoffmann… I don’t necessarily need to have a traditional music singer, but the voice has to be strong and hard enough to stand against the drums. I’m not sure Isabelle’s would fit in that case.
For Hoffmann, I would like to use Ching-yao, an offer he gladly accepted. I will be happy to hear his wonderful baritone voice singing the score.
A cello will be Hoffmann instrumental counter-part. For the women, I couldn’t help but hearing a flute. I want to ask Andy. I’m not sure whether he will give it much consideration, in the light of our recent sentimental differences. But I really believe it would be good for him to embark on a different project that will take him away from competitions or the concertos and sonatas he usually plays.
I will write him a letter. He’s in Taipei now, preparing for a competition that will take place next month…
It’s funny, I could easily ask any other flute player than him, or any other singer than  Isabelle, but I really like to do things with people I believe in. I get more inspired when I know I’m writing for someone in particular. It is more tricky because there’s always some emotional story involved, especially amongst friends. But it’s worth it, just simply for the feeling that we have created something together.

Friday, 13 November 2009

At the National Concert Hall

A note from Liang-Yen to say that he wasn’t sure I would have to write the music. He talked to the director and now I have to wait another ten days before getting any confirmation.
Went to a tribute concert  to Taiwanese composer Nan-Chang Chien by the Taiwan National Symphony. My friend Kun-lin provided me two tickets which I gladly accepted although I had no idea what I was going to hear. Some symphonic works and two song cycles for soprano, the first of which was quite interesting. He’s supposedly a celebrated composer here in Taiwan. His music was eclectic, to say the least, a mish-mash of various influences ranging from American minimalists to Wagner! One song from the second cycle was a strange sonic adventure which started like a neo-Puccini aria before turning into a big Tannhäuser-like moment. I didn’t understand what my ears were hearing!
Another gimmick Nan-Chang Chien uses is to have one single note played by different instruments one by one, to a very comical effect - especially since the instruments were not top-notch precise when it came to pitch…
All in all, it was not the greatest musical moment of my life. I’ll go to the National Concert Hall again next week, this time for an Italian evening. Film soundtrack by Nino Rota and Ennio Moricone and opera intermezzi…
It will be long before we hear Stockhausen here!!!!

Saturday, 7 November 2009


The journalist from the China Times wanted to see me because a compilation CD about Liang-Yen’s stage work is about to be released. Music from Auntie will be featured even if some of the key songs will be discarded due to the flawed singing.
The interview was lively and enjoyable. Derjk Wu, the owner and co-founder of classical music mag Muzik was there as well. He also is the boss of the recording studio ArchiMusic. I boldly asked him whether he’d think it possible to co-produce the CD of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. I need to find a partner for that project, because I feel I can no longer rely on my own resources alone. Recording the music in Taipei might be a good solution. He has seen NINA. He told me he didn’t like Jo's choreography. Contrary to many, he thought the dancing and the music didn’t go together.
"The choreography was too shallow and didn’t go with the drama that the music offered", he said. Same reaction than the journalist from the New York Time two years ago… Then I had this thought that the original choreography of Swan Lake didn’t particularly match the drama and beauty of Tchaikovsky’s score… 
My father loathes journalists and I can understand him. One person's opinion is still one person's opinion. And journalists often find it hard to resist to please their ego. How many times did I learn more about the journalist's psyche than the topic he's supposed to write about! 
However Derjk showed interest in releasing the music of NINA, since the ballet is touring around the world to more and more acclaim.
Then the idea of releasing a double CD of both NINA and Tales of Hoffman occurred.
We shall see. Derjk wants to know about Noism touring schedule so to find the best time for the release.
I am learning to be more pro-active and not be afraid to ask. What can I lose anyway?

Liang-Yen shyly asked me whether the idea of writing something for his project wasn’t too appalling to me after the Auntie experience. He needed a piece for a male choir for a play he‘s working on now. A woman monologue set after the Cultural Revolution in China (one of his key theme, it seems). I immediately heard the music as he was talking to me.
I need work anyway. So I accepted, but I like the idea of writing for a male choir. The idea came to Liang-Yen when he saw me scoring the wedding mass for my brother’s wedding last year.
Things never go unnoticed.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Auntie - returns!

In the dream, Billy showed me a chart with names. On mine was a big yellow circle with a sign on it. He looked at me and said that he regretted that it had to be this way, that we could not be together because I was given that score.
The news didn‘t surprise me but my heart was shattered nevertheless. I leaned against the wall and gathered all my strength to suppress a flow of tears. 
Around me, people were still tending to their business. A couple of women passed by and looked at me. I looked back at them. Their expression wasn’t right.
« Stop!!! » I yelled.
Everybody stopped and looked at me. 
« We have to do it again! The way you are walking and looking at me, you look like an actor trying too hard to act. Let’s do it again! »
The crowd scene was repeated. I thought of Synecdoche New York, this film by Charlie Kaufman where the main character recreates his life in a giant studio until the boundaries between reality and fiction are erased.
That’s the feeling I have more and more about my life. I watch myself as I live my life. I know it’s all a game. Nothing matters, really. But as I play that game, I try to give all of myself in it. Feeling joy and pain becomes an experience that needs to be repeated  in order to keep on playing.

Taipei again. Bangkok now seems like a happy mirage.
Sick like a dog today. Must be the fried rice I bought from the food stall down the street. Must be that I pushed my body a little too hard the past time. Going to the gym everyday, not eating enough, the heat in Bangkok, the sleepless nights… My body is sending me a warning!

Meeting with the journalists from Muzik and China Times at the National Concert Hall tomorrow for lunch. I hope I will be in shape. I actually thought it was scheduled on the day of my departure for Bangkok. I showed up at the given place and found that a Tom Ford event was to start instead.
Liang-Yen, whom I haven’t seen since last year when we worked on Auntie came to meet me nevertheless and took me to some local restaurant and kindly offered to drive me to the airport!
He also told me about the Auntie follow up in Beijing.
A company showed interest in re-staging the play in Beijing. Because of censorship problems, they had to rewrite the whole libretto - which wasn’t a bad idea. The music was kept intact. So from the story about this mother who has two gay sons and married a husband who left her and turned out to be transvestite cabaret performer, the plot became the story of a middle-aged married woman who has an affair with a young lad from the countryside who wants to be a stage artist… Of course it had to be an ill-fated love story, otherwise the audience would be bored to death. Soap opera goes musicals…
Lian-Yen jokingly said that he paid all his due with this project. Like me, he received no fee for his work at all and had to come up with three versions of the play so it could be performed regardless the budget offered by the venues.
I haven’t seen a single scene from the original version of Auntie, much less anything from this new version. Maybe it’s better that way. So Liang-Yen and I can remain on friendly terms!

Flyers for the new Beijing version of Auntie.