We welcome a child prodigy and eclectic artist Amanda Wu to the pages of PEV today, a jazz pop vocalist, fashion blogger, and entrepreneur that has been gaining more and more attention internationally with each passing year. Born in Taiwan, Wu composed her first piece at 7 years old, and over time her music has taken on more refined elements of jazz, a piano-driven approach that’s represented wonderfully by her new EP, The Journey On Earth, Vol II.
We asked Amanda to give us the complete download on the new music – she told us, “I think fans should expect to hear a new-blended music style. For non-mandarin speakers, the language shouldn’t be the barrier; you can take the sound to enhance the music in order to open more of your imagination! I wrote all of the songs in Montreal (in my early 20s). I wrote some of the songs while walking, feeling stressed, or…any kind of circumstances. Inspiration comes unexpectedly, right :)? I didn’t do further arrangement and release them because I felt the timing was not right yet. Then, when moving to NY at age 30, I thought it was time to arrange and move to further steps. After I had done all the pre-production, I went to Berlin twice to collaborate with an amazing mixing engineer, the producer of Jazzanova, Axel Reinemer. I really like the way he produces sound! So, basically, they were composed in Montreal, arranged in NYC and mixed/mastered in Berlin!” Click to http://amandayiyen.com to check out The Journey On Earth, Vol II, and keep reading for so much more in all the answers to the XXQs below.
XXQs: Amanda Wu
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Amanda Wu (AW): My overall sound is the mixture of Jazz, Classical, and Pop. Pop in Vocal, Jazz/Classical in piano. If talking about vocal sound, people say my voice sounds soothing but determined. I take it as a vehicle to express my inner strength and personality. If talking about piano sound, I don’t take piano as an accompaniment for vocal. I take it as an important leading role, just as vocal.
PEV: Born in Taiwan, you started your music career at an impressively young age. As a child prodigy, you composed your first piece at just 7 years old. With that, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
AW: Mandarin Pop, Cantonese Pop, Japanese Soundtracks, Japanese Pop, Classical, Hollywood movie soundtrack, Disney, Western pop, and Broadway Musical. The first concert…hmm…I am not sure, but I do remember the first concert for my first composition…I was 7 years old and it was my first year participating in the competition of composition (JOC) by YAMAHA. I was touring and the first concert was in the huge concert hall of National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei City. When I walked on the stage, somehow I felt the vibe was so “magnificent” as if it was the ascending ceremony for Majesty! So, I felt I should walk very slowly like the princess… (laughing)! My accompanist was pushing me to walk faster (laughing)! I don’t know why I was feeling and acting like that, but it was funny!
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
AW: It happened naturally since I was in the music field for so long. The first show…hmmm…I guess it went smoothly because I don’t remember anything unexpected. However, of course I was always very excited and always a bit nervous for every show.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Amanda Wu show?
I always tell the stories behind each song. These stories are an inspiring life story rather than romantic stories. So the message in my music is to inspire people to think differently/look at things in a creative angle, then you will find a whole different outcome. Also, since I’ve lived in so many countries, I’ve composed everywhere. The story of the song also contains the environment/weather in the city where I composed. So, they already get three elements (music, creative idea, and journey) then also, I always make sure that I dress with my fashion sense and match the venue. They are intertwined, so I say it is a complete presentation of these four elements!
It is fun to see that different elements resonate with different people. For example, the astrologist felt resonance with the spiritual meaning of each song. Taiwanese like the melody, Jazz fans like the improvisation, composers would see the pictures of the music…etc. I can clearly see who they are by which part they feel attracted to. It is very fun!
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
AW: Nothing really. Just feel the flow and go for it! Oh, maybe just making sure that I am focused and expressive.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
AW: To deliver the creative energy and if the fans give some feedback, and interaction, it feels great because I love to connect with them.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
AW: The observation, realization, and spirituality of life.
PEV: As a Classical/Jazz Pianist & Vocalist and Fashion Stylist & Entrepreneur, thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
AW: It is a very interesting question to answer! Love it! I always have some big/general/vague contour of who I wanna become and what I really want to do for the next stage of life. So, when starting to learn classical piano, I wanted to be a good classical pianist. Everything is difficult at the beginning, but I kind of push myself to get the goal. I admit that I did feel stressed all the time, but it will pay off when becoming that person. Before becoming a Jazz pianist, I imagined playing Jazz in the bar, festival…then once I became, I started to plan the next image. While living in NYC in 2013, I was inspired by some famous people who built up their brand on the internet (fashion bloggers and inspirational speakers) and started feeling the business side of me. These are the predictable parts. However, the unpredictable part is “Why I want to make these switch of roles?” I would say: Trust the imagination!
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
AW: (Laughing) the weird sleeping schedule! I had terrible insomnia for many years. Usually fell asleep around 5 or 6 am. So, I usually sleep in the morning until 12 or 1 pm. If I am very tired and need to regain the energy, I usually need 12 hours sleep. So if nothing specific is happening during the weekend, I would be just sleeping a lot (laughing)!
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?
AW: Walking around or talking to good friends. Keep walking/moving and switching focus on something else are the ways to get unstuck!
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
AW: There are pros and cons.
Pros – More opportunities for independent artist. As an independent artist, there is more freedom to be creative and dominating. You are challenged by how to build up your realm and create your business model.
Cons – Since consumer’s behavior has changed, it is impossible to sell music in the traditional way. It feels that our endeavor and income are not proportional. However, in my opinion, things always contain both sides. Thinking what is good of it will lead you to a positive path and positive things will happen!
PEV: What can fans expect from your alluring new EP, The Journey On Earth, Vol II ? What was the writing process like for this work?
AW: I think they should expect to hear a new-blended music style. For non-mandarin speakers, the language shouldn’t be the barrier; you can take the sound to enhance the music in order to open more of your imagination!
The process was…I wrote all of them in Montreal (in my early 20s). I wrote some of the songs while walking, feeling stressed, or…any kind of circumstances. Inspiration come unexpectedly, right :)? I didn’t do further arrangement and release them because I felt the timing was not right yet. Then, when moving to NY at age 30, I thought it was time to arrange and move to further steps. After I had done all the pre-production, I went to Berlin twice to collaborate with an amazing mixing engineer, the producer of Jazzanova, Axel Reinemer. I really like the way he produces sound! So, basically, they were composed in Montreal, arranged in NYC and mixed/mastered in Berlin!
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
AW: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
AW: They first didn’t really know what I was doing or wanted to do. They revealed some uncertain feelings and tried to pull me back to the traditional path. I even had some fights with my family. Some friends said some negative words to me as well. I completely knew where they were coming from and understood why they didn’t believe it. But, I never felt defeated or blame them for anything. I just kept insisting to create this tailored path. However, they feel very excited about what I am doing and what I am going to do!
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
AW: Dining out, going for walks, sleeping in, Yoga, cooking (when I have a kitchen), massage, nails.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
AW: Rasmus Faber (a Swedish House DJ/producer). He composes House and Jazz. So, we are overlapped. His house music gives me very positive energy, not dark or heavy at all. I just love that pure power. His Jazz sounds easy to digest but with depth.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
AW: Sarah McKenzie and Late Night Alumni.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
AW: A business owner.
PEV: So, what is next for Amanda Wu?
AW: Keep releasing original music and tour around the world. Starting my fashion online shop and giving more inspirational speech like TED to inspire people that you can integrate your resources and design your life!
For more information, click to http://amandayiyen.com/.