Fri, Mar 05, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Biung mixes it up live

By Diana Freundl  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Singing in both his native Bunkum language and in Mandarin, Aboriginal musician Biung goes on stage tomorrow night at the Riverside Music Cafe.

PHOTO COURTESY OF RIVERSIDE MUSIC CAFE

One of the most engaging Aboriginal artists, if not the most famous, Biung is appearing tomorrow night at the Riverside Music Cafe.

Wang Hong-en (王宏恩) (who prefers to use his Aboriginal name) has become something of a regular stage presence at various live houses around Taiwan. A member of the Bunun Aboriginal tribe, he lives in a small village near Taitung where he continues to write, sing and produce his own style of music.

More recently, Biung has channeled his fondness for writing about his ancestral heritage into a nightly television program highlighting the treatment of Aborigines during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The program airs nightly at 8pm on public television.

With homegrown lyrics that both emphasize his ethnic background and are a diary of his childhood experiences, most of his songs are written in the Bunun language. "Bunun is my mother tongue so when I am singing about my experiences it seems appropriate to sing in my native language."

At 28, Biung has already released two albums in addition to receiving a Golden Melody Award for Best Non-Mandarin Male Singer in 2002. His first album, The Hunter, was completed while he was still a college student and recorded entirely in his native language. In order to garner a larger audience, however, Biung decided to include songs in Mandarin on his second album, Biung.

What sets Biung apart from his Aboriginal contemporaries is his style, which marries traditional Bunun music with an upbeat pop-esque sound. While he denies that Taiwanese Mando-pop has had any large effect on his music, he does confess to listening to Western pop artists such as Michael Jackson and Linkin Park.

"I don't put any limitations on the kind of music I listen to, but musically the biggest inspiration to me has been traditional Bunun music.

Although the audience can't understand all of his lyrics, it doesn't stop crowds of people from packing in to see Biung perform live.

Geddy Lin (林正如) owner of Riverside said Biung always draws a large gathering of Taiwanese university students. "His music is groovy and soulful and you can dance to it. The crowd always loves him."

Whether it's salvation from another night at a monster club in Taipei or simply to change things up, Biung provides a good introduction to one of Taiwan's unique Aboriginal sounds.

Performance notes:

Biung will perform tomorrow night at Riverside Music Cafe (ªe©¤‾d¨¥). Riverside Music Cafe is located at B1, 2, Lane 244, Roosevelt Rd. Sec 3, Taipei at (¥x¥_¥«Ã¹´µºÖ¸ô3¬q244«Ñ2¸¹B1).

Tickets cost NT$300.

For details call (02) 2368 7310.

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