Originally published on Taiwan Beats.
Translator: Jocelle Koh
PiA band is a new face that was nominated for this years’ Golden melody Awards in the ‘Best Performance Group’ category. They are composed to lead singer PiA（Bei ya Wu吳蓓雅）, Base player Hsiao Bo（Chen Bo Cheng陳柏誠） and Ukelele and drums musician Hsiao Yi（Yuxin Lan俞心嵐）. Through light and fast melodies they create imagery of life’s sad, happy and unexpected moments and have moved many a fan with their music.
However to PiA band, the critical acclaim that has come from the mainstream music world has come a little too late. After releasing their album “Isn’t this life生活不就是這樣”, two of the band members left, leaving behind PiA by herself. PiA herself mentions regretfully “Now there’s no PiA band anymore, just PiA.”
◎In five years the band has reformed four times, isn’t this life?This band that was started in 2010, in five years experienced four reformations with band members coming and going. The band was united and split, with the only remaining member PiA shouldering her way through it all.
At the beginning, the band was a two-person act by PiA and Kuo Yi-Hao（郭一豪）, before adding Hsiao Song on the backing vocals and drummer Lin Bi-Da（林弼達）, making it a four0person act. In 2011 it once again became a two-person group with PiA and Hsiao Song, but regretfully, at the end of 2012, Hsiao Song also left the group.
This was with no doubt a difficult time for PiA. Within the space of half a year she had no income from performances at all, and could only rely on teaching guitar to make a living. The song ‘Isn’t this life’ was written about this time. To the ear, it has a clean and happy melody but underneath all of it is hidden PiA’s feelings towards society. No matter what, we still have to continue. PiA said it this way, “I tried using a light and breezy attitude to look at a lot of burdens of life.”
In 2013, PiA band came together once again. Hsiao Song（小松）, Hsiao Yi（小翼） joined, letting three individuals of similar ages and of a similar passion for music to come together. Other than focusing on songwriting, they began trying different things.
Through a coincidental opportunity, PiA met a manager from Beijing, and was given a chance to release a Japanese album and to tour. Performing far away in Japan, the biggest problem especially for struggling independent musicians was money. “At that time it was trendy to crowdfund, it was just that there weren’t many who were doing it, so we just thought we’d give it a try.” So PiA band joined together with Cheshire Cat（柴郡貓） to start an internet crowdfunder in preparation for their trip to Japan. Thinking back to that experience, PiA’s voice hints at laughter. “I didn’t expect it to be that successful, because wanting everyone to take out money and fund you to do something you want to do is a hard feat.”
While crowdfunding, PiA band also prepared their internet-based show “Ah look at PiA”（阿你看 Pia）. Talking about doing an internet program, at the start PiA was extremely honest. “That year we had no works to put out, so we wished to do something a little different.” For them, doing an internet program nationally or internationally, in the future everyone wll still be able to see them.
Of course, the band’s main vocation was music and so after trying many different things, in July 2014 they released an entirely new album “Isn’t this life”. Pia describes the theme of this album as “a little bit feeling like we’ve started anew, for this album I also wrote a lot symbolising three people starting their journey anew.”
But something that causes regret is, not long after the album was released, the other two band members once again left. On the band’s disbanding once again, PiA was a little hurt. “I do feel a bit taunted, it’s already like we’ve started anew, yet at the end everyone’s left again.” Of course she can also understand that in the music industry wanting to keep going is not an easy thing to do; “Isn’t this life” sang out PiA band’s innermost thoughts and feelings, perhaps she herself is a metaphor for bands disbanding.
PiA band was nominated for this years’ Golden melody Awards in the ‘Best Performance Group’ category.
◎Was the Golden melody awards a one night as a celebrity feeling for you?But at the same time is was this album that sent PiA to the Golden Melody Awards ceremony. This critical acclaim from the mainstream music world left PiA a little helpless, she describes it as her “one night as a star” experience.
“It was really hard for me to acclimatise to that atmosphere, songwriting usually consists of staying at home and writing things, the most dramatic part of this job is wearing a pretty dress on stage and interacting with audiences. Coming to such a large ceremony and in front of so many photographers and journalists showing myself off I really feel very uneasy. This one night as a celebrity experience was very painful. When you are standing in a mainstream environment, everyone has to immediately see your uniqueness, in this area I really need to learn more.”
As hard as PiA finds it to get used to the extravagance of being under the spotlight, the success that she’s received in the indie music scene comes from the acclaim given by the Golden Melody awards. Such acclaim has an underlying realistic purpose; to let those who support her feel that she has always been moving forward, and at the same time to let her mother who constantly worries about her to feel comforted.
◎Finding Bobby Chen（陳昇）& starting againTaiwanese famous singer–Bobby Chen（陳昇）
When asked about what she has yet to do but wishes to conquer after five years in the industry, PiA laughs and says “At my performance in September at last year at Legacy I was finally able to get Bobby Chen (Chen Shen) to be my special guest. This allowed me to feel like nothing would ever be impossible anymore.”
In order to understand how she met Bobby Chen, perhaps we must understand PiA’s persistence and passion for music. To request that he be her special guest, Pia vigorously contacted his manager, record label, sent hand-written letters, performance plans and CDs. A reply was only sent back two months later; Bobby Chen gave her the huge task of being the opening act for his New Formosa band concert, and her performance did not let him down. And so in proceeding concerts such as the Simple Life festival and Countdown concerts, PiA and Bobby collaborated time and time again.
Asking him to be her mentor also happened during their collaborations. Talking about the journey to Chen becoming her mentor, PiA herself was not entirely sure, “After we went to Taitung’s Iron flower village to perform, everyone was drinking and chatting. big brother Chen suddenly told his drummer Ah-wen ‘Tell PiA don’t let her think we are begging her.’ I didn’t understand, and brother Ah-wen then told me ‘PiA, big brother Chen is asking you to call him your mentor.’ So I picked up a drink to salute him, and that was that, a rather blurry situation.”
Music is always the reason and meaning that PiA has worked towards, “I’ve always thought that this thing called music has to be done till the very end, I don’t wish to earn a lot of money from it. I feel that being able to support myself and workers and to continue doing so in the long term is good enough.” And her fate with mentor Bobby Chen allows PiA even more confidence towards the future. When deciding to learn under Chen, PiA’s heart calmed down a lot as no matter what happens, at least there will be that one person to give you advice.
Starting over, PiA who is starting her journey alone hopes that in the coming time, she can devote herself to creation, playing with new elements in her music and “again going to do those things that I’ve only seen done, yet was afraid of doing”.
Waa Wei: The pixie who wishes to trample in the mud (Taiwan Beats + Asian Pop Weekly Collaboration Feature)
Originally published on Taiwan beats.
Translator: Jocelle Koh
Wei Ru Xuan, otherwise known as Waa Wei started off as The Naturally Curly-Haired band’s lead singer, before leaving due to throat issues. In 2007 she released her first album <La Dolce Vita> which was widely praised. By 2014, she has already released her fourth original studio album <We still have to believe in love you bastards> and simultaneously held her first ticketed solo concert at the Taipei Arena. In 2015, Waa was nominated for the second time at the inaugural Golden melody Awards for her album <We still have to believe in love you bastards> for best female mandarin singer. At the same time, her latest album was also named one of ‘Ten best albums of 2014’ by the Chinese Musicians’ Association.
Waa owns a unique and clean set of vocals along with a playful and eclectic personality. Other than being a singer, she is also Taiwanese radio station Hit FM’s DJ. This year she has even released her own book <Word Flowers>, allowing her to be recognised now not only as singer –songwriter and DJ, but also as an author.
We caught Waa at England’s Glastonbury festival where we invited her to tell us more about her ideas and plans regarding her performance at the festival.
Coming to England’s Glastonbury festival to perform this time, did you have any different plans?
Waa: There’ll be different arrangements, and the rest is still in discussion. Other than that, I’ve also prepared my wellington boots; they told me if I’m going to indulge myself and to have fun, they know that I will be quite preoccupied with thinking about the Golden Melody Awards (The Golden Melody Awards ceremony is on the same day she returns from the Glastonbury festival). And also, I really am yearning for the feeling of stepping on mud.
How about your outfit for this year’s festival?
This time the clothes are very unique, they are based on the inspiration designer Jenn Lee got from last years’ festival. Previously the clothes she made were all black, but for this range there is instead this feeling of freedom, so I hope that performing while wearing her clothes will also have a feeling of being free from any kind of restraints.
Previously I myself did not dare to wear clothes which had less fabric, but now that I’ve lost a little bit of weight, I want to try to see a different me on stage. And also I think since I’m on an overseas stage there’s no need to feel shy, that outfit I am wearing on stage will reveal the back and the waist.
Will you anticipate being able to spur more inspiration to arise from being in England?
I remember the last time we went to Liverpool music festival, there we were introduced to an Italian band ACA, and then we collaborated and wrote songs that are in my latest album, so I’m looking forward to being able to meet many creative types who are a little different from me, so that I can collaborate with them to create music that is a little different.
Note: Waa Wei performed at the Liverpool music festival in 2011, and afterwards co-wrote the song <Water Lilies> with Italian band ACA which can be found in her < We still have to believe in love you bastards> album.
During your time in Glastonbury, do you have any other plans?
I myself really wish to see DJ Code and My Skin’s performance. I personally really like My Skin, because onstage they are really wild and crazy, I hope I can also be like them, dancing freely onstage.
And also, actually I do not have high expectations, I just want to sit in the park and that would make me very happy already. Really, being in a different place will give you different ideas and inspiration, and I’ve heard that after going to Glastonbury your eyes truly will be opened to new worlds, so I myself am very excited.
If you had a chance to organise a music festival, how would you design it?
I have two pet cats, I am always at home imagining that they would love to come out with me, previously when I performed at the Taipei Arena I made a hat that looked like my cats and wore it on my head.
If I were to organise a music festival, I hope that there can be one section that is specially for animals. Of course I think this would be a bit difficult, especially due to the speakers as I am afraid their ears would be a little uncomfortable. I just hope that everyone can bring their pets to play together, this is what I most wish to organise.
You are a singer, DJ, theatrical actress and author, is there anything else you would wish to try?
In my heart there are many things I wish to do, but if I can act in a movie I wish to try that. Although I feel that previously while acting in a musical I was a little engrossed, and really was stuck in my role and couldn’t get out of it. So I don’t know if I get the change to act in a movie whether I would also be this absorbed in my role, but if there is a chance I would want to try acting in a movie.
What kind of character would you like to play?
Actually I am willing to try any kind of role, I remember the first time I acted in a movie it was director Chen Hong’s <The flowers ate that girl>; at that time I acted as a lesbian, Sandrine Pinna (Taiwanese-French actress) and I kissed in front of all the crew and the camera, actually this is already a very big challenge.
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