Saturday, 28 August 2010


Dennis will be in town! This comes as the most pleasant surprise. I’m so happy about this unexpected visit, especially since I thought it would be months before I’d see him again. He’ll come to Taipei for a few days, then we’ll see each other again in Hong Kong since he’ll have to go there as well.

Our flat hunting has proved fruitless so far. Nicolas says it makes sense in a way, for I have not yet cut all connection with my life in Paris. The lease will be terminated on the 3rd  of September. Even without knowing that detail, Nicolas had predicted I’d find something on the 4th. “But go west,” he said.

Work with Huang-yi has started. I finally saw the four dancers and Chung-Kun, his partner in crime who’s in charge of the digital art installation as well as perfecting that string playing robot. Quite a task it seems to be! Till then I’ll have to come up with a few musical drafts so the dancers Huang-yi knows where I’m going to go. I have written three movements of which one seems to meet his demand. Each project seems to push my boundaries further and further. People go to school or music academies to learn their skill. In my case, I learn it on the spot. The only thing I can follow is my intuition. When on that morning, Régine Chopinot called me and asked me to join her on her next adventure, I said yes without hesitation, although I was totally clueless about I was to achieve it. It’s been like that ever since. In my work, in my life. Now both have merged into one and I find myself here in Taipei not even able to wonder what is going to happen next. The way I approach this project with Huang-yi will reflect the way I build my new life here. Confidence, joyousness and a sense of fun.

Checking music and movement for Symphony Project

Sunday, 15 August 2010


It’s raining outside. Each time it does, the air gets refreshed. Then suddenly like the flowers and plants in a desert, we come alive again!
The sung is piercing through the dark clouds. Sunset is near. I love this moment of the day.

I have a received an answer from Kota who said that he and his partner listened to the music and were ‘taken aback’ by the music, as he put it, and that they ‘were interested in another side of me’. I wonder what is this ‘another side’ he refers to. Surely I can understand how surprising it can be to hear me sing Pop! or Battle of Wits after hearing my stage work.
Maybe the best thing is to be patient and let things come when they come.
For now it’s about settling down in Taipei and completely severe my links to my Parisian flat. End of the lease is on the first days of September. Nicolas told me he felt I will find something nice in Taipei on the 4th!

My Viking god friend Alo approached me last year for an art video project of his. The idea was to reinvent those beefcake shots from the 50’s and reinterpret them in an Estonian setting: hunky men doing their daily chores: milking a cow, fishing, hunting, harvesting… Many months passed by. I sent him a first draft last time I was in Taipei. The project changed direction.
I sent the music for the new edit he did recently and it seems that he and his partner in crime Jaanus liked it. However the relevance of their project have always somehow escaped me. The first day I met Jaanus, he scared him off with my questions and never heard of him nor saw him since.
I remember how one day, I took a scene from a porn film, turned it in black and white and put a Ryuichi Sakamoto’s piano piece on it, just for fun. It suddenly became elegiac, nearly Sturm & Drang, as if the lovers were desperately making love on their last day on earth. It’s all about the angle of view.
The music I created for Alo had the same effect. I’m glad Alo and Jaanus welcome my proposition. What will become of this project, I know not. That also escapes me.


Yesterday was Byron’s last day in Taipei before heading South for the promotion of  Amphetamine.
Since the film opened one day ago, they have to run from one movie theatre to the next for interviews and Q&A.
I saw him briefly, and as fans were lining up to get his autograph on books, posters or t-shirts, he told me that he was a bit upset to be paraded by the director like a circus animal. That’s part of the game of being in the spotlight.
“You see,” I told him, “the director doesn’t have your youth and your physique, so he enjoys it vicariously through his lens and his film
Amphetamine could have been a better film, but unfortunately, the director indulged in the nudity of the male body, instead of building a strong story. Despite the excellent acting, some good ideas and the gorgeous photography, what could have been an arresting film like LanYu or Happy Together, has become a thinly disguised male erotica that says more about the director’s fantasy than his talent in filmmaking. (and oh, the soundtrack, what bad music!)
I really wanted to love the film because of Byron, but I had to be honest. He was good, but the film wasn’t.

Byron will come back to Taiwan and we’ll take a car and visit other places of the country. I feel like anything is possible with him.

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Visited two flats today. The first one was in GongGuan, far away from everything and in a rather decrepit state. The second one was nice, has newly been renovated, located near the university and has the bonus of a rooftop. I like it but the energy isn’t right. Am I too picky? It’s like no matter how hard they may try to make the outside look good, the inside is decaying… The owner even started complaining about one wall that kept getting leaks in spite of her effort to renovate it. The other low point is that is has only one air condition machine, no lift (I’m thinking of the move and the piano that will have to be carried up five floors!)
The flat in Banciao that Chin-Hsin showed me was taken before we could visit it. There are many others, there must be.
Many friends have offered to help and ask around. That was only our second day searching so I’m confident we’ll find something good, especially when I think that Isabelle visited 80 houses before finding the one and only one… Then, Taipei isn’t like Paris.

It’s time to start working. The droid which will play the string instruments isn’t finished yet. Two more weeks, Huang-yi said.
But I have some music to score for Alo and his art project. I do hope to find small projects from Europe to help me sustain my life in Taipei.

I have been in touch with Matthew, a former music and movie sales manager in Hong Kong. He fell in love with my music and really wants to give me a hand. He spoke of some record companies that would match the type of music I do. I won’t hope nor will I start feeling excited about it. We’ll see what happens. But I’m delighted to see that this second album is getting very good feedback.
Now the second step will be to find a lyricist who can turn the album into this pan-Asian project I have in mind.
Byron introduced me to one from Hong Kong. Should I call Sandee Chan? Ha ha!

Since Byron is staying in Taipei for a full two weeks, we have time to see each other more often and spend time together. We spent on Sunday in Danshui. The seaside was a welcome escape from the stuffiness of the city. Byron, what an amazing fellow! His life didn’t follow the usual pattern so I jump from surprise to surprise when I speak with him. Actor, model, chef, martial arts, hypno-therapist… His ability to learn quickly, to seize what is to be seized in life. I found many similarities in our lives, the difference being that he externalized his experiences when I internalized mine and materialized them in creation. Now it’s maybe the contrary that happens, since I try to ground myself more and want to learn martial arts, go the gym, be more in my physical self, while he starts to write and create. Will we finally find our balance?
We laugh a lot. I didn’t expect him to be so witty and funny. The last time I saw him, I felt concern for him. As he was driving, I felt he could drive us off the cliff within a second – he was in depression then, he later told me. It’s good to see him in good spirit again. How I wish he lived in Taipei.

Byron Pang

It’s hot here. The city is a giant sauna. Cycling in summer is sheer madness, but I do it anyway. Two seconds on my bike and I’m soaked with sweat. 40°C during the day! I don’t even want to think of the people who have these food stalls and prepare the dish all day long with the heat springing at their face. I really admire them.


Ching-yao took me to the Xue Xue Building, near where he lives. The place was founded by an extremely wealthy man, and dedicated to the arts. Such people are few in Asia. As soon as I entered the place I felt at home. Two of Ching-yao’s friends work there as designers. Tsai Ming Liang has a coffee place and he bakes cookies for it every day! There’s a cinema, a music venue, galleries, a beautiful library, a restaurant. The thought occurred to me that paradoxically, such places make one feels that art is created by the elite for the elite. It’s located in a posh area of town and I don’t really think the average worker would think of going there or know about it to think to go there.
Nevertheless, I loved it. The wealthy man selects the artists he wants to help and only ask them 1000 NTD per month for the rent of the office. Think 23 euro…
Hopefully he can sustain that for a long time. 

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Single Asian Male

I didn’t hear from this friend who wanted to share the flat with me in Taipei. I didn’t worry much. I knew something would come up. And it did! I was chatting online with a friend I hadn't been much in touch with, and who complained about his current flatmates and said said he needed to find a new flat because he couldn’t stand living in such an untidy space.
“Let’s share a flat together, then” I said half jokingly. My friend considered the joke seriously and immediately replied that it was actually a good idea. The next second, he was giving me links to ads he had found on the internet. 
First flat: furnished like a hotel, spacious, comfortable, but somehow impersonal interior arrangement. There wasn’t much we could do with it. 
Second flat: looked like a cell from a mental institution or a prison. No light, white walls and a dodgy feeling about it. 
Third flat: looks like a doll’s house, on the ground floor, not really ideal in case of flood. 
Fourth flat: comfortable, even had a massage bathtub, but too small. 
The fifth was the one. It had three bedrooms and a living room - I wanted an extra room for visiting friends. The rent was so cheap and it wasn’t too far from the city. The only thing is that it’s not in Taipei City but Taipei County. I’d be a suburbian!!!  But if I compare the price here with the ones in Paris, I can’t help but laugh. Since we‘re going to share the rent, the amount I’ll have to pay each month will be one fourth of what I paid for my little Parisian studio!!!

We shall visit the flat this coming Thursday. 
Next step will be to get the working visa. Huang-yi shall send me the details of what document to produce. CloudGate should be able to help. 
I hope!

Grafiti - Belleville, Paris

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Last Day / First Day

As I was taking the train for the Narita airport, the thought occurred to me that I no longer had any home anywhere. I imagined the people who fled their country because of wars, political or religious tensions, or my parents when they came to France to study, not knowing it would be decades before they would return to their homeland.
So Taipei was to be my next destination. Japan had been a nice screen which left me some time to face the fact. The Tales of Hoffmann, Jo and Sawako, Satoshi, Niigata, Tokyo, all of this was a nice transition to this new life. 
As Josh was driving me from the airport to Taipei, I still couldn’t grasp it. I was speaking to him, I saw the nocturnal landscape of Taipei. But yet, I was lost. I was in limbo. What was happening? Where was I really? We always envision changes as clear-cut, abrupt events storming into our lives, shaking us violently, not as a continuous flow which start from different places of our life to converge at a certain moment.
I reached Jason’s flat, where I had stayed four months last year. Had I really left it? It was waiting for me. Taipei was waiting for me. People talk a lot of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Inception. And indeed, that’s how I feel I live my life. I come and go from one level to another. It’s not surprising that I saw that film recently as it came at the right time to express visually how I felt inside.

Byron came to visit me in the middle of the night. He had misunderstood that I was only there for one night and he really wanted to see me and give me a present.
It was nice to see him again. Only our third encounter, but a very strong bond between us. When he realized that I was to stay in Taipei, he felt silly. But I liked this nightly visit of his. He brought a package which included a beautiful book of photographs taken on the set of his last film Amphetamine, as well as the CD of the soundtrack. This was so unexpected. We talked until the morning. I strongly feel for him. I don’t know what is happening.
He told me about his next project, a film he wants to write and direct and of course star in. The story, once again is quite dark, but well, Byron is a deep, beautiful soul…
He said he would really like me to write the score for it. No need to tell what my answer was. There’s something powerful about him, maybe his practice of martial arts. His inner strength is amazing.
Now he’s going to stay two weeks in Taipei to promote Amphetamine, do interviews, appear at various events and places. There will be a screening on Monday. We promised to see each other often.
This visit was so unreal to me. When he finally left to get some sleep, I still wondered what had just happened. I was like one of these characters in fairy tales who had are bewildered after the visit of a fairy or a sorcerer.

On the train to the Narita Airport.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Last days in Tokyo

Nolico suggested that we watched the big firework in Yokohama, on the rooftop of her university. That sounded like a good idea. And that would also be the chance to see Shinya. I didn’t realize Yokohama was so far off from the centre of town. The train was packed. It was the firework festival this week end. I saw thousands of people in traditional costume flocking to see the main firework in Tokyo the previous evening. Today’s show was to be less spectacular. Personally I didn’t care much, the main point was to see Nolico and Shinya.
What was supposed to take in a rooftop actually took place in a dimly lit classroom. We could watch the firework from the windows… I thought we would have a good view, but it was no different from what we had seen from the street, minus the atmosphere of the cheering crowd. The present people were none too friendly, more busy to eat and drink and chat with each other. No one didn’t even bother to watch. On top of that, we had to contribute 2.000 yen for the food that we didn’t intend to eat, since we already had had a delicious tonkatsu for dinner.  Shinya and I were disappointed, to say the least. Nolico was embarrassed. We sat in a corner with our plastic glass and watched the firework as battalions of mosquitoes were biting us.
The atmosphere started to change after the other guests had a few drinks and felt less inhibited to open up and speak to strangers. I chatted with the former editor of the Japanese Cahiers du Cinéma. Of course he had met Trân Anh Hùng in Tokyo, so we talked about L’Odeur de la Papaye Verte. I can always bet that I would meet one person (a girl usually) who is a fan of that film each time I would go out to some social event. I would hear flowery praises for the score until they realized that my father, not I, wrote it.
Nolico tried to save the ship by mentioning my work with Jo Kanamori, but unless one has some taste for dance, no one really knows who he is.
After four glasses of ice tea and two steamed sausages, I left. Shinya was bored to death and Nolico was happy to put an end to her guilt. One thing I know: no one will trick me to see a firework anymore. I enjoy it when I see one, but I wouldn’t fight myself through a packed crowd to see one. 

Night over Tokyo

Nolico & Shinya


Got news from my brother. Since I’m gone, now he has to see them more and take care of them. My mother seems to become more and more forgetful. I don’t think it’s the Alzheimer disease. Do I say so because I don’t want to think of the possibility of it? Whether it is, the reason is that she doesn’t see any future for herself. Her memory for past events is perfect. For decades now, she’s always been ranting about how old she was getting. There wasn’t much she was looking forward to in the future. Her constant bickering with my father and mood swings do not make things better. My father loses all his creative impulse. I am actually more worried about him than her. But what can one do? Medicate? See someone? My brother’s idea is that we sold the house in Saint-Maur and buy a smaller flat in Paris where they can be closer to social life. For my mother, that would be the best thing to do; she would be able to go out more, walk and be more physically active. I know my father doesn’t want to. He finds it so hard to cope with changes. He says that now that he’s older, he doesn’t want to adapt anymore, which I can understand.
I think of Isabelle who has to shake heaven and earth in order to take care of her ageing parents.
That was the question everyone asked me when I said I would leave Paris. After ‘how will you survive and make a living’ the next concern was: ‘what about your parents?’

Mother and son

I find it hard to sleep peacefully. The situation will surely improve once I have my new home. For now, I have this unpleasant feeling that my feet escape me. There’s one phrase in French that goes: ‘Je perds pied’, which means that you’re losing touch with the ground. That’s exactly how I feel when I lie down. It happens in the middle of the night and an acute sense of disarray gets hold of me. My legs seem to be floating and drifting as I lay in bed. It takes much breathing and meditation to get rid of it.