Interview: Chinese pop star A-Lin talks about working with Sia and her Aboriginal Taiwanese heritage

Chinese pop star A-Lin speaks to Hello Asia’s Jocelle Koh about her visit to Australia, her self titled album “A-Lin”, working with artists such as Sia, J.Sheon and Eric Chou, appearing at Australia’s ARIA Awards and her Aboriginal Taiwanese heritage.

We know that you’ve been to many parts of Australia, especially since you toured here last year, and have even filmed music videos here! Which part of Australia is your favorite?

I like it all! Everywhere I’ve been to has had such beautiful sceneries, delicious food, and I get to look at the sea which is what I love the most. Every visit I’ve made to Australia, the cities all have such beautiful beaches and sea-view which left a great impression on me. There are also many places I haven’t visited yet like Brisbane, and I would like to visit them in the future.

You produced your latest self-titled album by yourself. What was it about this album that was different from your previous works?

After releasing many of my previous albums, I’ve had more ideas and inspirations that I wanted to showcase and present in my songs. I feel there is more of a sense of accomplishment that I get with this album in comparison to my previous works because I participated with the creation and production throughout, and was able to convey more complex emotion and display intricate techniques with my own style.

In this album, I worked with many musicians like Sia, J.Sheon and Eric Chou. Although it seems like there are less ‘love’ songs, I decided to include more upbeat and faster tracks to showcase the lively and positive side of my personality. So I hope everyone likes the album!

Can you share a little with us about the concept of the album “A-Lin”?

The concept for this album is ‘simple love’. I wanted to share the idea of love in its simplest form. When I listen to music, I am able to find freedom and peace, so I hope my music can affect others in this way too. I want people to feel happy when listening my songs so I selected a variety of medium tempo to up-tempo songs in this album. When people hear a beat they relate to, their body automatically grooves along which can help them temporarily forget everything and just enjoy the music. So I hope to share this simple way to experience happiness with everyone.

You also worked with some really amazing artists on this album such as J.Sheon, Eric Chou and of course Sia. What was it like to work with these artists?

I was excited to work with so many musicians especially my idol Sia. Everyone knows Sia hides her face a lot so it was an honor to get to get closer with her through this collaboration. We were able to talk to her about her passion and devotion she has to her music. I learnt a lot through working with her on this song, from singing techniques, to the way she composes the songs which are all very unique.

Working with J.Sheon and Eric Chou was amazing too and I hope there will be opportunities in the future to work with more musicians.

What do you think these collaborators were able to add to your sound this time around?

Working with different artists brought a higher level of complexity and variety in terms of song composition and singing techniques that I used in recording. There were a lot of sparks that happened when we collaborated together. Like the song written with Sia, there were a lot of features in it which are quite distinctive to her music. But when I recorded the song, I was able to interpret her music in my own style creating a song that is quite different to my other songs.

Through collaborating with different artists and musicians, I was able to grow as a singer, upgrade my vocal skills, and they helped broadened my horizon, giving me more possibilities to explore in terms of my music and musical style. I hope to be able to work with more artists in the future.

Which is your favourite song on this album and why?

My favourite song from the album is a self-composed song called ‘Sea of Light’. It’s a song written about chasing your dreams, and the hardship and adversities that you will face along the way. This song depicts my journey towards reaching my dream. I know a lot of people can relate to feeling helpless along the way, but I want people to fight and persist every second and every minute for their dreams, because the only thing you can control is what happens now at this very moment which is why I cherish everything that I own and have accomplished till now and I want to share what I have with everyone.

Is this your first time at the ARIAs? Do you have any Australian acts you are particularly rooting for?

This is my first time attending the ARIAs. I really like the atmosphere of this award ceremony. Its like a big party! You get to see amazing performances, mingle with other artists and I got to know and meet different musicians all with their own style and musical genre. I would love to be able to come back and attend the ARIAs again in the future.

I really like Amy Shark as an artist, so I’m very happy for her win at the ARIAs. I got to talk to her and congratulate her in person yesterday at the awards which was great.

You’ve experienced many things during your career as an artist. What was something that was most memorable for you?

The thing I cherish most is hearing my fans share the positivity and strength that they receive from my music. It feels great to know the song I’m singing is impacting and affecting someone’s live in such a positive way. In the past, I myself have also had a similar experience with a song sung by one of my idols. All the different stories fans have shared with me everywhere I’ve been to have all been so memorable to me.

As an Aboriginal Taiwanese, you incorporate a lot of these musical elements into your music. Why do you continue to do so and what impact do you hope it can bring?

As an Aboriginal Taiwanese, I really want to incorporate our cultural musical elements in my music. There’s a lot of our aboriginal culture that has already been lost, I feel like I have the means and position to partake in an active role to keep our cultural music alive as well as passing this cultural heritage to future generations. It’s great that I get to do something so meaningful in the form of music which is what I love and relate to the most. In my next album, I hope to include more aboriginal musical elements in my songs.

As Chinese music starts to become more popular overseas, do you see a potential for your music to be appreciated by western audiences?

I feel like the world is so much more connected right now as one and everything that gets shared has no problem getting around viral around the world. Because of the internet, we get to learn and connect to other peoples’ cultures and language. I think music is the fastest way to learn a new language, I’ve actually found there are quite a number of westerners that comes to my concerts and they also sing along with my songs in Mandarin which I think is great. I know lots of westerners have been learning Asian languages, whether it’s Japanese, Korean or Chinese. I think that Mando-pop is definitely on the rise and I hope people can give more love to mandarin music and also our culture.

Find out more about A-Lin on her Facebook page.

Translation by Lulu