Fri, Jul 29, 2011 - Page 14 News List

Music: Debbie does Franz & Friends

By Andrew C.C. Huang  /  Contributing Reporter

Debbie Hsiao.

Photo Courtesy of Asiamuse

Four years after Debbie Hsiao (蕭賀碩) won a Golden Melody Award for Best Newcomer, the singer/songwriter is still writing and performing music from her personal point of view.

“I think it’s important to convey my opinions about the world to my fans,” Hsiao told the Taipei Times earlier this month. “When I write for other stars, the songs need to be commercial and catchy. When I write songs for my own album, it simply needs to be gratifying for myself.”

Hsiao, who won a Golden Melody for her debut album Shuo’s Map (碩一碩的流浪地圖) in 2007, will be performing at Franz & Friends (法藍瓷音樂餐廳) every Friday night in August.

After graduating from Taipei Medical University with a degree in medical laboratory science and biotechnology, Hsiao worked as a lab doctor for half a year before joining Warner Music as a production assistant.

She started writing songs for Mando-pop heavyweights such as Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文), Stefanie Sun (孫燕姿) and Tanya Chua (蔡健雅).

After nabbing her award, Hsiao released a second album, Stay, in 2009 and then an EP titled Good Night, I Love You this March. For the past three years she has divided her time between Taipei and New York, where she studies jazz. Studying in the Big Apple had an unexpected perk — Hsiao fell in love with her piano teacher.

“Love is intoxicating and it inspires me to write more songs,” she says gleefully.

Her boyfriend Alex Pryrodny composed and contributed the piano segment for the EP’s second track, Bayu-bai (Good Night). He’ll join her onstage at Franz & Friends.

Like her trajectory from medicine to music, Hsiao’s songwriting process is idiosyncratic. “Segments of melody usually come to me when I’m half awake and almost falling asleep,” she said. “So I put a recorder next to my bed so I can hum and record them.”

Although she started her career on mainstream labels, Hsiao produces her albums with indie studios.

“Being an indie singer is trying financially, physically and mentally,” she says. “You need to deal with the loneliness, maintain your sensitivity and ride out the highs and lows.”

While Hsiao’s vocals on her studio album are intricate and poignant, she proved to be even more magnetic as a live performer at National Taiwan University’s Drop Coffee House (滴咖啡) on July 9. She shared the stories behind her songs, joked with the audience, danced around and delivered entrancing versions of her songs. She also turned in a riveting jazz rendition of pop icon Faye Wong’s (王菲) trademark You’re Happy, So I’m Happy (你快樂所以我快樂).

The opinionated songwriter also urged her fans to take photos of an anti-nuclear power plant poster, and to upload the pictures to Facebook.

“As I have grown, my musical concern has broadened from the usual romance to everyday life and social issues,” she says. “I want to share my values and attitude with my fans.”

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