So I was studying guitar at Musician’s Institute (M.I.) when I was 19. And one of my classmates who later became one of my best friends was Taiwanese. And after school ended, he moved back to Taiwan and got a job at Sony Music as an A&R assistant. Basically his job was to find songs for Sony’s singers and bring those demos to the meetings. So he asked me to send all of my demos to him so he could show them at the next meeting. And the A&R head of Sony at the time, really liked them, and asked me to write a song for Karen Mok. Something like Evanescence. But I only had 24 hours, because they had to choose that song at the next meeting. But I was able to write, arrange and record it in a day, and that song became “Ai Si Ni”. And the A&R head liked my demos so much, that he wanted to sign me as a songwriter, arranger, and producer. So Sony flew me out to Taiwan to meet with them, and so I could finish recording “Ai Si Ni”. I had already done the arrangement back in Seattle with my old band, and now I was in Taiwan recording Karen Mok and Alan Kuo.
And the language has never been a problem while I’m recording. This is the fun fact about music. It’s that music is it’s own language. If it sounds good, feels good, it’s good. For me, it’s never about the pronunciation of the individual word. It’s especially silly to worry about that, when Jay Chou is by far the most successful artist, and you can’t understand anything he’s singing. And Leehom and David Tao both have accents, but are wildly successful as well. And I think that one of the reasons they’re all so successful, is that they all care about the music first. If they sing something that sounds good, but is hard to understand, they don’t care. It’s sounds good, it feels good, it’s good. And the audience always agrees. No one ever bought a song because the singer sings words so clearly and it’s easy to understand. You buy a song because you like the song. Think of how many people bought Gangnam Style who don’t understand Korean. They bought it because it sounds good, it’s fun time, and they like to listen to it. 0% about the lyrical content, or understanding the meaning.
The hardest part is working together with other people. What do you do when the person who is paying you asks you to make a change to the song, that will make the song way worse and stupid? Do you stand up and fight for the music? If you do that, then they’ll most likely never hire you again. Even if the song is a hit. They’ll be mad at you forever for not giving them face, even though you saved the song from their bad idea. Or do you make the changes and let the song suffer? You’ll get paid, you won’t have made an enemy, you’ll most likely get another call from them, but… You’ll be a little dead on the inside. Your song was ruined by someone not as musical as you. And you stood by and let that happen. And now that person will forever ask you to make stupid changes and ruin all your future songs because you never stood up for yourself. And you’ll never have a hit….
There’s no wrong answer to that question. My answer changes based on my need for money. If I have enough money, then I’ll fight for the music. If I need to get paid, then I’ll shut my mouth and make the changes, and die on the inside.. Hahaha. It’s a common problem, that I think most people who are in the business of creation face. I make creations that are pure and from the heart. Then someone comes along and says I’ll buy that creation you made if you take out the soul and replace it with garbage. My creation will be ruined, but I’ll have money.
Hahaha, I guess this doesn’t answer your question. But my story is LOOONG. But also very interesting, and may help upcoming musicians in the future. Maybe I’ll start writing it down…