Paige Su (蘇珮卿), who performs on Wednesday at Legacy Taipei, is anything but your typical singer-songwriter, at least if this label conjures up the image of a solitary bard standing in front of a mic pouring her heart out while strumming an acoustic guitar.
Su has the composure and voice of a jazz diva (dark-toned, honey-sweet and pitch-perfect), and instead of wielding a guitar, she often sits on stage strumming a harp, an instrument that harkens to her classical background.
But, as many singer-songwriters tend to be, Su is a restless musician with eclectic tastes, and this is reflected in her sophisticated jazz pop sound.
The 29-year-old Taipei native possesses a love for Debussy and Bach that stems from her classical training, which she started at age 8. She travels to India regularly to feed an obsession for South Indian classical music, which she learned on the side as a double major in flute and harp performance at the University of North Texas College of Music. And Su loves rock and pop; her live repertoire includes songs by Bjork, Radiohead, Tom Waits, the Beatles and Fiona Apple, as well as the occasional Taiwanese folk song.
“I’m a little weird, I can’t settle down on one style,” she quipped during an interview with Live Wire earlier this week.
Su writes in both English and Chinese (more of the latter lately), and her lyrics deal with what she describes as an “inner world.” The song lyrics on her three-track EP Upside Down (格格不入, reviewed in the Oct. 30, 2011, edition of the Taipei Times) have a poetic simplicity that flows effortlessly thanks to Su’s keen arranging skills.
Su says she used to fret over the fact that her musical interests were all over the map. As a teenager, she was afraid to admit, as a classical piano student, that she loved Coldplay. Upon returning to Taipei from the US in 2007, she says she hated answering the question: “What kind of music do you do?” There was no easy answer for a classically-trained musician who also could play jazz, was interested in music from the subcontinent and secretly wanted to write her own songs.
“But when I really realized that I really do love singing, there was no need to feel embarrassed about doing what I wanted to do,” she said.
Su plans to release a follow-up EP to Upside Down later this year, which she says will have a pared-down feel and emphasize her voice and the harp.
Wednesday’s show is part of a six-show series at Legacy Taipei, which happens every two months. The concert features a collaboration with her husband, percussionist Cody Byassee, pianist Oren Dashti and expat jazz bassist Martijn Vanbuel of the Golden Melody Award-winning group Orbit Folks.
■ 8:30pm Wednesday at Legacy Taipei, 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 is NT$500
Fresh from the release of its new EP, Popular Wasteland, Roxymoron plays at Underworld (地下社會) tonight. It’s a safe bet that the expat rock trio will perform songs from Popular, a four-song showcase that demonstrates the band’s peppy, propulsive grooves, sweet guitar noise and a noir-ish, lo-fi rock spirit. Also on the bill tonight is indie-electronica band Heartones (心電樂).
■ 9pm tonight at Underworld (地下社會), B1, 45 Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路45號B1). Admission is NT$300
Tomorrow, one of Taipei’s favorite ska bands, Skaraoke, plays at Sappho de Base, a venue that bandleader Thomas Hu (胡世漢) says practically guarantees a good time. “It’s fun for the musicians that play there,” the trombonist said. Translation: the lounge bar loves a good party, and don’t be surprised if the musicians, not to mention the patrons, get tipsy pretty fast. (Live Wire reminds revelers not to drink and drive — let taxis be your chariots). Hu says that fans can expect the band’s first full-length album to be released later this fall.