Interview: 9m88 Talks About '9m88 Radio', Juggling Cultures, Working with Oddisee, and More | Hype | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Interview: 9m88 Talks About ‘9m88 Radio’, Juggling Cultures, Working with Oddisee, and More

Interviewed by:
Dario Hunt
Interview date:
August 2022

How did you get into music?

I grew up listening to Pop songs and always wanted to be a singer. I was into R&B/Neo-Soul when I was at high school and luckily was introduced to Jazz in college. It was late, but it was never too late!

Which artists were a major influence on you growing up?

In my Mando-pop blood there are many great songwriters and popstars I admire. In my Western-Popish, blood there are always Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder and MJ…I’d say many Jazz musicians like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, and Sun Ra play a huge role of helping me explore music with open mindsets.

You have roots in both Taiwan and New York, how did those two worlds influence you musically?

You can reach mountains and seasides easily in Taiwan. I live in Taipei which is a densely populated and busy city but nature is reachable. There’s a spontaneity and flexibility of the city which I love. New York City is more of a vibey place where everyone is subjective but unapologetically outspoken. I love the contrast of the two places and their traits sort of internalize in my music and songwriting.

What is the music scene like in Taiwan? Is R&B big there?

I feel independent artists are taking over right now. Apart from the big pool of romantic Mando-Pop songs, people love Rock, and Hip-Hop/R&B is hot in Taiwan right now. 

What aspects of Taiwanese culture do you try to incorporate into your music?

It’s mostly in the wordings and melody of my music. You can also see some styling/ art direction in my MVs that has the spirit of my culture. I think people who are not familiar with the culture and visual language might find it hard to see them. But mostly, I wanna channel my music with the rest of the world. I sing in English a lot at the current phase.

You went to The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, how did that help shape you as an artist?

I appreciated the fact It’s a school that focuses on Jazz mainly. It was a period of time that I got immersed in music 100% from various perspectives. I figured there’s so many angles to write and compose. And another thing of going to music school is, there are so many talented cats out there, you just gotta know the reason why you are different enough to let people want to listen to your music.

You’re an international artist, do you feel you have to cater to your audiences differently? Like your American vs Taiwanese audiences?

This is a question I haven’t really figured out yet. Since the habits of two audiences engaging in music are so different, I’m seeking a middle land for me to communicate with both sides effectively. At the end of the day, music is the most important part that surpasses marketing strategies and what I can do is to make music I personally enjoy and hope for the best.

You’re also a multi-hyphenate artist, fashion, music, and now acting (which is awesome), has working in those other disciplines helped you in your music career? Or vice-versa?

Yes. I would say my  fashion background helps me broaden my imagination of how music looks physically as moving images. Music is more fun when you connect 5 senses with it. Acting also opens up my sensitivity. 

How would you describe your music? What do you want listeners to take from it?

I want them to notice the voice itself first. I’m trying not to box myself out by making music in one genre. So I hope they can feel relaxed and curious about different ideas and be open-minded. Ultimately, I hope my music accompanies them to go through some difficult moments.

What’s your process when it comes to crafting a song/album?

I try to view my current status of lives and try to narrow down to the stories I feel like telling. They have to be genuine to me though. I don’t like to write something that is too alien to me.

Congrats on completing your new album 9m88 Radio! How does it feel now that it’s done? What can listeners expect from it?

I was really satisfied with the heavy loads of work we did. And I was happy with the result! I hope people who listen to it can feel our aspiration of trying to create the soundscape, which is contributed by artists from many parts of the world. I hope them can find it fun to listen to.

I love the track “Star” it’s so smooth. Do you have a favorite track off the album?

It’s hard to pick one favorite track! “Star” is a song that marks my current mentality. Growing up means melancholy to me, but I can still choose to have faith in life and make each day worthy. 

I’m a big fan of Oddisee and think he’s so underrated, how’d you link up with him? What was it like working with him?

I’ve always been a big fan. He speaks his truth. We were both invited to a music festival “Clockenflap” in Hong Kong in 2018. The promoter linked us up later on and we became Instagram friends. When I wrote “Friend Zone” I thought maybe I should send out an invitation and, of course, he might turn me down. Surprisingly he was responsive and never BS with me. It was one of the most online collaborations I’ve had for sure. 

We like to say to be a creative and put yourself out there to the public eye that you have to be fearless. Do you agree with that?

Indeed. It is nerve-wrecking! But I always tell myself that I will be gradually good at it. One day!

What can people expect from you in the future? Any specific goals? Tours? Festivals?

I hope to share my music outside my comfort zone, that’s why I’m touring with my friends Sunset Rollercoaster in Europe and will have a few shows on the East coast in North America from September to October. Hopefully there’s more to come!

9m88’s new album 9m88 Radio is out now and you can stream it on Spotify here.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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