For fans of Joanna Wang (王若琳), now is your chance to see the “real” Joanna, the outspoken singer/songwriter engaged in a very public struggle to break free from the jazz princess image manufactured by her label, Sony.
In a candid e-mail interview, Wang — who will perform more than 20 new, unreleased songs tonight at Legacy Taipei — slams Sony for packaging her music as “jazz,” reveals why her band is called New Tokyo Terror, and shows her sardonic sense of humor when she says she drinks “a glass of hatorade every morning.”
Taipei Times: Will you be performing new songs you’ve written at the Legacy concert? Can you describe them?
Joanna Wang: I will be performing about 20 or more new and unreleased songs. All written in the last four or five years. The show will be divided into two parts, the former part being my more classically influenced songs, which are played in a baroque-esque manner, the latter being my more pop/rock influenced music played in a traditional rock band setup. There’s a costume involved as well! How very exciting.
TT: Will you perform songs from The Adult Storybook CD from your second album? Any cover songs?
JW: I will perform three songs from The Adult Storybook. As for covers ... a most rockin’ and totally awesome tune called This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us by a badass band by the name of Sparks.
TT: What do you think about your current status as the preeminent “jazz singer” in the Chinese-speaking world?
JW: I think anyone who dares call him or herself a music buff (I suppose one such as myself ... ) would say that I am not, in fact, a so-called jazz singer. I’ve always been infuriated at the fact that the marketing team I worked with decided to promote me under the guise of “jazz,” when I clearly only sang commercial pop ballads. If these ballads I had to sing are so easily labeled as jazz or bossa nova, then I’m sure that would be a true insult to actual jazz musicians. Deceit is a terrible thing and this is a blatant (and not unusual) case of deceit to consumers from the record label.
TT: What kind of musician would you like to become? What kind of songs would you like to sing?
JW: I’d just sing my own songs. Trust me, if you’ve been misunderstood ever since the beginning, the first thing you’d want to be would be yourself.
TT: Which singer do you admire and would like to emulate?
JW: Danny Elfman. What a colorful musical career he’s had! From his time in The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, to Oingo Boingo and to his career as a TV and film composer ... I’ve adored works from all of those phases.
TT: Tell me about the story behind the group New Tokyo Terror. Do you write songs with them or by yourself?
JW: New Tokyo Terror is actually just me with a roster of musicians that is constantly changing due to mostly location and what kind of music we’re playing. I write all of the music. The names New Tokyo Terror and my sometimes-used stage name Chicken Joanna come from a manga called Fourteen Years I read in my teens.
TT: You described yourself as a “cynical, angry character” in our previous interview. What kind of songs do you write these days? Are you going into darker and more emotional terrain?
JW: My writing style hasn’t changed much, as a few of my more representative pieces were written when I was around 18. I think “emotional” is a pretty lame-o word. And yes, I am very, very cynical. I drink a tall glass of hatorade every morning! Also I don’t trust people who use LOL without being ironic.
TT: What do you envision your next album to be like?
JW: Dark and mischievous. A mix of the classical (think baroque), prog rock (if I may ... ) and synthesizers! I hope it doesn’t come out too terribly.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
What: Joanna — New Tokyo Terror Live Concert (Joanna—新東京恐懼 Live Concert)
When: Tonight at 8pm
Where: Legacy Taipei (傳音樂展演空間), located at Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Center Five Hall (中五館), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)
Admission: NT$600 to NT$1,000, available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks, ERA ticketing outlets or online at www.ticket.com.tw
On the Net: www.sonymusic.com.tw/pop/joannawang
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