I have always been a huge fan of Diana Wang‘s (王詩安) voice. Sweet and resonant, it has the ability to traverse the depths and heights of the musical scale with a bouncy electricity few can boast of. However, despite releasing several hit songs since her debut in 2013, her talent has gone largely unnoticed, rendering her a partially hidden gem within Taiwan’s saturated music industry. But I believe that her talent will not stay hidden much longer, given her successful re-emergence to the scene in mid 2016 with a slew of singles that give promising insight into her fresh new sound.
Leaving her old label Warner Music in 2015, Diana took a much-needed break to think things over and re-evaluate her future direction, before signing with her new label Cros Music in 2016.
“After I left Warner in September 2015, I went on a trip in The States with a couple friends. Since I’ve never been to the West Side, I went to LA and San Fransisco for a month. Took a break and visited friends that live there. The trip was full of freedom, good food and amazing weather! Even when I was in Taiwan I didn’t do too much work and just wanted to rest and think about my life. What I really want to do in the future and what I’m capable of.”
And indeed, Diana was able to discover exactly what she was capable of with the help of Mandopop producer Skot Suyama, who wrote and produced Wang’s new singles, “HOME” and “I Don’t Know”. Wang recalls how she met Skot, and how she fell for the song “HOME”.
“When I recorded “Love Doesn’t Need To Pretend / 愛不需要裝乖” I met Skot for the first time. We had great music chemistry. I’ve never recorded my voice over Pop/Rock songs. That was my first experience and it worked out well! …He invited me to his studio (his studio is inside his house) and (I) listened to a demo called HOME. I really liked it, the melody was a perfect fit to my voice.”
The song turned out to be a hit both at home and abroad. The single rose quickly to the top of the KKBOX Western Music charts after its debut, leaving both Diana and producer Skot surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reception towards the song, but nevertheless grateful for its success.
“It is rare for Mandarin singers to release English songs, especially after I haven’t released any of my own songs for a while. So I’m very lucky to have my company releasing English for me, since I grew up singing English back in The Netherlands. I’m also very happy and surprised that the crowd here likes it! HOME is my first original English song.”
But amazingly enough, Diana has gone from strength to strength, not only delivering a pitch-perfect performance on this track, but also directing the music video for “HOME”, which has gone on to amass over 10 million YouTube hits today. The bubbly singer broke down her first grueling, yet exciting directorial experience for me:
“If I would describe my experience of directing in one word, it would be “EXHAUSTED”! But definitely worth it. Because this is a new way to express my passion through visual art. Directing this music video for me came in three parts: Preparing, acting and editing. Part one ‘Preparing’ was full of excitement and hope and ideas. This was a ‘low budget’ music video. All made by friends: thanks to Cros and Balanana Productions. Part two ‘Acting’ was super fun and it was a great weather, only for one day. In this part I remember I wanted a shot with the waves coming into my hair by lying down on the sand. That day we had a lot of shots at the beach so my skin and eyes got sunburned. If you pay attention to the lip sync part with the white bricks background, towards the end my eyes got more red because I got emotional but they were also red because of sunburn. Ears were very red as well. Part 3 “Editing” was 30 days nonstop staring at the screen editing, filtering, special effects and subtitles. The main parts I did in part three was editing, filtering and subs. I had to take my laptop to The States and continue editing! Every night after editing when I looked outside at the neon lights, street lights, they were all blurry. I had hair loss and a lot pimples on my forehead. Plus there was jet lag too. But I got to learn so much from the software I was using called ‘Final Cut Pro’. Now the music video is about to hit 10 million views! Feeling lucky and blessed!”
Looking at how easily Diana was able to pick up film production, it’s clear that she has a knack for it. And like many others, she’s been bitten by the production bug and hopes to get behind the camera sometime soon.
“I might want to direct a song that I wrote myself. I think I have had enough rest after directing “HOME” so by that time I’m recharged and could probably direct again, but I might hire someone to edit it for me to save me from some blurry eyes!”
But it is admirable how the singer’s passion for music has never wavered, despite all the obstacles she has faced. Undergoing vocal training all over the world, in Shanghai, the Netherlands and also the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the States, her vocation is clear for all to see. When asked which she would choose between acting (yes, another thing this multi-talented artist has dabbled in) and singing, her answer was heartfelt and honest.
“I would choose music. Because music is a language to me that I don’t want to give up on. I love to act, but without music my life isn’t complete, it’s just like living without knowing how to speak any language.”
Speckling our interview with noteworthy quotes about life and her passions, it comes as no surprise to anyone that the singer has also been penning her own songs, some of which will feature in her mini album that will be released sometime this year. This will be the first time Wang’s original compositions have been featured on any of her albums, but I am certain that it will be a listening experience that is worth the wait. Speaking of her upcoming release, she hints at a few new themes underlying it:
“This EP would still have HOME’s Pop/Rock elements in it, but it will also have three other messages. One, it is lightly leading to a next genre that I’ll be doing next year. Two, it is leading to me songwriting. Three, of course this EP sounds and looks different than album one, little more Western.”
And just like any driven go-getter, the girl has her own artists whom she looks to for inspiration, naming Beyonce and Khalil Fong as two artists whom she admires greatly, and would love to collaborate with in the future if given a chance.
“Since young I loved R&B music. My biggest idol and inspiration has always been Beyonce. I love her voice and her energy is so powerful! Here in Asia, I’m a big fan of Khalil Fong (方大同). I started listening to his music since his first album all the way till now he has started his own label FU MUSIC. I have worked with him a couple times. I played (a role) in three of his music videos: “千紙鶴Paper Crane”, “BB88” and “愛立刻Love Instantly”. He also wrote the song “Hey Boy” that was in my first album. I think it’s easy to guess who I want to work with.”
Well one thing’s for certain – Diana Wang has big dreams for herself! What was evident was Wang’s humble attitude towards her own achievements are clearly notable. Despite creating waves with the release of “HOME” without the backing of a large record label, Wang rarely focuses on her own qualities. She rather lets her works speak for themselves, never forgetting to express her gratitude to all who participated in the process. With an unassuming demeanor, a wealth of talent and a noticeable passion for her art, I’d hazard a guess that Diana won’t be going ‘home’ anytime soon. Not until she’s accomplished what she’s come here to do.
Photo provided by Cros Music.