For a relative newcomer to pop, crooner Leo Chen (陳永龍) has set the bar high for himself: He aims to update classic 1970s love songs to create delicate poetry-meets-pop opuses.
The Aboriginal prince of ballads headlines an evening titled Music Generation Live Concert (樂世代Live演唱會) at The Wall (這牆) in Taipei tonight and at The Wall Pier 2 in Kaohsiung (高雄駁二藝術特區) on March 12.
He shares the stage with singer/songwriter Gelresai (陳世川) and emerging comedic band HE (有激人).
Chen’s debut album Come Rain or Shine (日光雨中), released to much acclaim in March last year, saw the singer put his own spin on 12 timeless love songs composed by Aboriginal maestro Lee Tai-hsiang (李泰祥) with lyrics penned by famed authors such as San Mao (三毛), Cheng Chou-yu (鄭愁予) and Lo Ching (羅青).
Although a seasoned singer, Chen took lessons to hone the right style for his debut album, for which he adopted an understated, introspective delivery that helps convey the songs’ emotions.
“In contrast to modern love songs, these 1970s classics convey very subtle and layered emotions,” Chen says. “The unspoken is often the most painful part.”
A member of the Puyuma tribe (卑南族) from Taitung, Chen has contributed tunes to the Beautiful Haiyan (美麗心民謠) series and three other folk compilations released by Wild Fire Music (野火樂集).
Over the past decade, Chen has worked as backup vocalist for established Aboriginal acts such as Pau-dull (陳建年, also known as Chen Jian-nian), Difang (郭英男) and Samingad (紀曉君).
“I learned a lot from Difang because he never sees singing as a performance,” Leo Chen says. “Singing for him is simply an emotional outpouring from the heart.”
Leo Chen started out performing in his early 20s as a U-Theatre (優人神鼓) drummer. “The years at the theater were like a meditation,” he says of his early career. “As a singer, you go out to perform and meet different people.”
WHAT: Music Generation Live Concert (樂世代Live演唱會)
WHEN: Tonight at 8pm and March 12 at 7:30pm
WHERE: Tonight at The Wall (這牆), B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1), tel: (02) 2930-0162. On March 12 at The Wall Pier 2 (高雄駁二藝術特區), 1 Dayong Rd, Yancheng Dist, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市鹽埕區大勇路1號), tel: 07-5214899
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$400 in advance, available from www.thewall.com.tw, or NT$500 at the door
ON THE NET: Search Facebook for “Chen Yong-long”
He cites Stefanie Sun (孫燕姿), Eason Chen (陳奕迅) and Jason Mraz as his favorite singers and doesn’t rule out pushing his genre-crossing endeavor further. “I wouldn’t mind doing a pop or rock album in the future,” he says. “That would be fun.”