For Aboriginal singer/songwriter Ilid Kaolo (以莉‧高露), bossa nova is not merely a music genre — it’s a lifestyle.
Kaolo, who released her debut album My Carefree Life (輕快的生活) to great acclaim last week, will perform two free concerts in Taipei over the next week: at Eslite Xinyi Music Store (信義誠品音樂館) tonight and at Eslite Dunnan Music Store (誠品敦南音樂館) on Wednesday.
Kaolo’s album contains 10 songs she has written over the past decade, six in Amis and four in Mandarin, that blend folk with jazz and bossa nova.
“There are no big theories with my music,” Kaolo told the Taipei Times in a phone interview last week. “I hope it will calm your heart and help you reflect on what you want from life.”
The title track, My Carefree Life, is a laid-back pop gem celebrating a pastoral lifestyle.
“This song is about my memory of the agricultural life in Hualien,” the Amis songstress said. “Watching the breeze blowing at the rice harvest was a wonderful experience.”
In the second single, Charming Eyes (迷人的眼睛), Kaolo uses her sultry, jazzy vocals to encourage modern women to be brave and hold up their heads when facing romantic disillusionment in the urban jungle.
Born in Hualien, Kaolo moved to Taipei at 7 years old and made the city her home for three decades. She started performing with Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe (原舞者) in her early 20s and moved on to join the Aboriginal niche label Wild Fire Music (野火樂集) in recent years under the nickname of Hsiao-mei (小美).
In 2006, she joined Hohak Band’s (好客樂隊) agricultural project in Taitung, farming organic rice by day and writing music by night. She returned to her hometown of Hualien last year to continue farming and work on her debut album.
What: Ilid Kaolo (以莉‧高露)
When and Where: 8pm tonight at Eslite Xinyi Music Store (信義誠品音樂館), 4F, Eslite Xinyi Store (誠品信義店4樓), 11 Songgao Rd, Taipei City (台北市松高路11號), and 8pm on Wednesday at Eslite Dunnan Music Store (誠品敦南音樂館), B2, 245, Dunhua S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市敦化南路一段245號B2)
On the Net: zh-tw.facebook.com/ilidkaolo
“My life in Taipei was hectic,” Kaolo said. “I went to gigs to perform and had fun with friends and never thought about releasing an album. The farming life allows me to calm my mind and reflect on life. These songs are letters to friends that I wanted to pass on, but never sent.”
As an Aboriginal performer who has experienced the glamorous night life of Taipei and then reclaimed her connection to the earth through farming, Kaolo wants audiences to find peace of mind in her music.
“You can listen to these songs when you want to chill,” she said. “I would be honored if you feel these songs can relax you and ease your loneliness.”