Blunt, irreverent but with a definite sense of humour. That’s what you get from Taiwanese artist Starr Chen when I spoke to him after his performance at the Golden Melody Awards & Festival Showcase last week. The famed producer-slash-singer-songwriter is definitely not one to mince his words.

Initially starting out working as a delivery driver, Starr started with less than even the basic tools many amateur musicians have these days, reflecting upon his exceptional passion for music.

“I just started with a crappy computer, a mouse and a typing board, I didn’t even have a keyboard. I think your creation tools don’t necessarily require a lot of money, any obstacles can be overcome, it just depends on whether you have that passion there.”

Chen seems to be the kind who goes where the tide takes him, moving first from an expertise in Hip Hop to EDM, and now back to hip hop again:

“I think at the beginning I started to get to know about Hip Hop, but then at the clubs they started playing Hip Hop less and less and then slowly changed to EDM. So I had to just follow the world’s trend. And then after that it’s kind of made a rebound so I’ve started to get back into Hip Hop.”

But it was his movement into the EDM scene which garnered him nationwide attention for his superb production of Jolin Tsai’s hit single “Play”. Here, he recalls how he got to work with the Mandopop princess in the first place:

“One day I was at a department store in the elevator and she suddenly called me – or her people suddenly called me. Because at the Golden Melody Awards a few years ago I produced one of the performances and then afterwards they asked me to be her producer.”

So being versatile and going with the tide has its benefits, after all. His easygoing attitude was further reflected when he demonstrated no preference for any dream collaborations:

“I don’t think I’ve thought of this question before. It changes with time. Well I guess whoever is most famous at the moment I’d want to collaborate with them (laughs).”

But underneath his tough-guy exterior and his hard beginnings, Chen says that he does have a soft spot… somewhere. When asked about who he thinks should win at this year’s Golden Melody Awards, his answer was one of the more interesting ones I’ve gotten so far:

“Doesn’t that mean I have to pick a side? Everyone should just win then. I think the best outcome would be our company’s works winning awards. I’m more of the kind of person to take care of his friends, doesn’t have anything to do with actually winning the award.”

So that what you get from the straight-talking producer. All in all, Starr Chen is a pretty interesting artist. You all should take a leaf from his book once in a while. Starting out with pretty much nothing but a passion for music, he’s now producing for some of the top Mandopop stars in Taiwan. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.