Fri, Jun 25, 2010 - Page 13 News List

Nothing succeeds like success

Yen-j left college in the US to pursue a music career in Taiwan. Three months later he had a record deal, and last month his debut album hit No. 2 on the charts

By Andrew C.C. Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Yen-j (嚴爵) is that rare newcomer to the Mando-pop scene who possesses both good looks and talent in spades.

The singer/songwriter and producer’s debut album Thanks Your Greatness (謝謝你的美好) brilliantly combines jazzy flourishes and catchy pop for ebullient musical musings on romance and other meaningful pursuits. It peaked at No. 2 on G-Music’s Mandarin album chart after its release last month and has been lauded by veteran entertainers Dee Hsu (徐熙娣), better known as Little S (小S), and Wang Lee-hom (王力宏). Two tracks became theme songs for TV soap dramas My Queen (敗犬女王) and P.S. Man (偷心大聖PS男).

“I spent 20 months recording this album,” said Yen-j, whose concert tomorrow night at Riverside Cafe (河岸留言) has already sold out. “I went through a period in which I wrote one song per day and I must have accumulated a hundred songs.”

“My label trusts me enough to allow me to produce my own album the first time out. In order to come up with the best result, I re-recorded all the songs numerous times.”

Yen-j performs two sets at Riverside Cafe tomorrow night in an evening titled Yen-j “I Like … No, I Love Yen-j” Concert (嚴爵“我喜歡…不,我愛嚴爵”演唱會) as a warm-up for his first stadium gig, Yen-j 「Endless Beauty Version」 Concert (嚴爵“無限美好版”演唱會), at National Taiwan University’s Sports Center (台大綜合體育館) on July 18. At Riverside, Yen-j will spend one set performing unplugged versions of songs from his album and the next set paying tribute to his idols, who include Jay Chou (周杰倫), Wang Lee-hom, Khalil Fong (方大同) and Stevie Wonder.

A native of Kaohsiung, Yen-j moved to the US to attend school at the age of 10. He took up piano and trombone early on and started performing in San Francisco’s jazz bars with his high school teachers.

PERFORMANCE NOTES

WHAT: Yen-j 「I Like ... No, I Love Yen-j Concert」 (嚴爵「我喜歡…不,我愛嚴爵」演唱會)

WHEN: Tomorrow at 9pm

WHERE: Riverside Cafe (河岸留言), B1, 2, Ln 244, Roosevelt Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路三段244巷2號B1). Tel: (02) 2368-7310.

On the Net:: www.riverside.com.tw

ADMISSION: Sold out

WHAT: Yen-j 「Endless Beauty Version」 Concert (嚴爵「無限美好版」演唱會)

WHEN: July 18 at 7:30pm

WHERE: NTU Sports Center 1F (台大綜合體育館1樓) at the intersection of Xinhai and Xinsheng South roads (台北市辛亥路與新生南路交叉口)

ADMISSION: Free for those with admission receipts from the April 4 「Prophet Yen-j」 Concert (「先知先爵」演唱會) at The Wall (這牆). Purchasers of Yen-j’s debut album can exchange the liner notes for a concert pass at G-Music Records (大眾玫瑰唱片), Five Music Records (五大唱片), Kuangnan Records (光南唱片) and Chiachia Records (佳佳唱片). Go to www.bin-music.com/tw/news301.html for more information

ON THE NET: yenj234.pixnet.net/blog


“I did not have the typical high school years because I was busy performing,” Yen-j said in an interview earlier this week. “I was lucky to have that opportunity to perform, though.”

After high school, he moved to Los Angeles to study music at the University of Southern California. Already a prolific songwriter with a demo in hand, he made the unusual decision to withdraw from USC after his first semester and move back to Taiwan.

“I figured I would only steer away from the opportunity of becoming a [career] singer if I stay for four years in college,” Yen-j, now 22, explained. “My father was understanding enough to support my decision.”

It took Yen-j only three months to land a record contract. In January this year, he released the EP Trapped in Taipei (困在台北) and embarked on a 44-gig live-house tour throughout the country to cultivate audiences and get used to performing live alone.

“I was a jazz instrumentalist in the beginning and learned to sing later on,” Yen-j said. “Performing live wasn’t that enjoyable in the beginning because I was just learning the ropes. Gradually,

I learned to enjoy it and interact with the audiences.”

Yen-j continues writing songs every day as a way to relieve stress, even during his current hectic promotional schedule.

“Either the beat, some lyrics or a segment of melody would appear, and I continue to finish the song,” he said.

“I have accumulated a whole bunch of songs for the subsequent albums,”

he laughed. “But the label says they won’t listen to the new songs until I finish the promotion and concert [for] the current album.”

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