I wasn’t sure what I was getting into interviewing Poetek, a newcomer to the Taiwanese music and rap scene. Graduating from the prestigious Taiwan National University, the rapper rose from the underground scene with the help of famed Taiwanese rapper Dwagie which cumulated in the release of his critically acclaimed debut album “Infinite”. Given his straddling of the independent and mainstream industries in Taiwan, his unique position left me not knowing how exactly to categorise him or predict what he would be like. But after his awesome show at the Golden Melody Awards Festival Showcase, I knew that I definitely wanted to get to know more about his music and his story.
Beginning his creative journey while he was still in Junior High, Poetek started writing with a ‘toes first’ approach; changing lyrics before starting to gain confidence in his writing abilities and letting it snowball into something bigger.
“At that time I listened to a lot of pop music and would change the lyrics myself. So then I thought ‘hey, since I know how to change lyrics, I should also be able to write some myself’ and so afterwards from Junior high form 6 I started writing my own songs, they were a little silly and idiotic. But as I wrote and wrote, it seemed like it was getting better (laughs).”
This was what initially prepped him for his entrance into the YouTube world, where he began to write his own songs and upload them onto the net. But after being signed to rapper Dwagie’s record company, it took him some time to get used to performing in front of a live audience.
“In the past I would just sit at home and record myself, like a nerd. Of course when I first started my posture and movements were stupid and would be laughed at by others. Previously I felt these were all not important but afterwards I realized that for a good performance, the stage is important, you need to interact with the audience.”
Throughout our interview, Poetek was sincere and honest about his strengths and flaws, reflecting upon an exceptional sense of self-awareness, which led to the creation of one of his most memorable songs, “Keep In Touch”.
Poetek’s single “Keep In Touch”.
“My personal favourite is “Keep in Touch”, because I feel that this is the most complete song and my album is actually a themed album; every single song is a jigsaw piece, but “Keep In Touch” is in itself independent and its story is very complete and quite moving, I personally believe. Actually my Principal said-because my benefactor is Dwagie, he brought me into his company and we all call him Principal-he said ‘your album needs to have breadth and depth’; breadth is when you listen for the first time and it kind of brainwashes you. As for depth, it means the song can touch people’s hearts and so I just felt if you want to move others with your music you need to first be able to move yourself, so wrote a song that kind of would move me.”
I guess one could say Poetek is very ‘in touch’ with his feelings? But all puns aside, I believe that it is this sense of self awareness and clarity the young rapper has to offer which ties together all the different elements of his album. Extending the metaphor he himself used; he is the glue that keeps all puzzle pieces together; something that explains his nominations at the recent Golden Melody Awards for ‘Best Newcomer’ and ‘Best Album’. When asked what his feelings were on being nominated just a day before the awards, this was his response:
“Actually I put my hopes into being nominated for the Best Newcomer but afterwards when I found out that I was also nominated for best Mandarin album, it was a surprise, like ‘wow, I really didn’t think of that ever happening’. Being able to be nominated on my debut album, I think the judges are really giving opportunities to newcomers.”
Although Poetek didn’t take home an award this year, he sure as hell won over my heart with his amiable personality and passion for creativity. When asked about what he would be doing now if he didn’t pursue his love for music, he replied:
“I really like creative work and am very passionate about it; no matter what platform of creative work I really enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be music, but as long as it’s creative, that would be best… But I still love music the most.”
A true gentleman by and by, Poetek has big dreams for himself, and hopes to be able to work with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole and Eminem in the future. With a clear sense of self-awareness and a deep love for music that seems to be unharmed by the usual fears of commercial uncertainty, I’ll definitely be ‘keeping in touch’ with what he does next. Maybe a collab with Kendrick Lamar?