Tibetan artist Ansa GaRangDengZhen or Zen as he is also known in English, has recently made a name for himself not only as a singer but also as an activist that garnered quite a few awards. His most recent single “Alaye” and its intriguing combination of Tibetan folk and some pop musical trends has prompted us to ask him about his musical roots, future plans, and a few other things.
Your music tries to combine elements of the Chinese, particularly Tibetan folk music, and more current musical trends from around the world. What influenced you to combine those, and who would you point out as your main influences there?
I grew up living on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and I deeply understand that Chinese Tibetan culture is very ancient and has a lot of rich musical elements, and there are not many musicians and musical works that have excavated these folk music elements before. Over the years, I have been performing all over the world, coming into contact with many people from different musical and cultural backgrounds, and also being exposed to a lot of good world music, which has inspired me a lot, and the biggest influence on me is that I have been learning and absorbing the essence of various music for more than 10 years. I’ve been thinking about how to make more people hear and feel the culture and songs from the plateau. I tried to blend the current popular world music with the ancient and special Tibetan music that I was good at, combining Eastern and Western music, colliding and creating songs that everyone liked, so there was work like “Alaye.” There are many major influences on me, such as Yanni, Michael Jackson, and so on.
Your music showcases some excellent vocal capabilities. When did you start developing them?
It should be in middle school. I accompanied my best friend to the school singing contest. Teachers are encouraged to participate as well. As a result, I won the trophy of the Campus Singing Competition. I think I have a talent for singing.
You seem to combine working both on music, documentary film, and charity work. How do you juggle all those ideas and work streams?
Chinese Tibetan culture advocates selflessness and great love. I grew up in such a cultural atmosphere. So I use the music I am good at to do as much charity and public welfare as possible, and I am willing to do what is good for others and beneficial to others. Documentaries have not been done for a long time, but only selecting important themes in important periods of Tibetan culture. For example, the documentary Seven Days and Seven Nights is to record my rich experience in the process of music creation for more than ten years, and I summarize my experiences in Tibetan culture, which is also a birthday gift for myself.
You’ve received so many rewards for your charity work, do you plan to continue and widen it?
Yes, I’ll keep doing it, never-ending.
Your upcoming project is the “Songs from the Himalayas” tour in Vancouver on August 13, 2022. Can you give us more details about it and is the tour extending elsewhere?
Most of this performance is my own creation; My music mostly expresses the love of nature and encourages people to face the pressures and difficulties of life with a positive and optimistic attitude. The two years of the epidemic have had a great impact on people’s lives, and the changes have also been great, and I hope that by listening to my singing, I can relax and get some positive energy, bringing hope and beauty to the audience. From the lighting and sound to the selection of the theater, the instrumental equipment and orchestra candidates were prepared according to the highest standards. This tour program will continue for a long time, and I will be in North American cities such as Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, and other places such as the United Kingdom and Australia. And, of course, many cities in China.
Are you working on new music, will it include new elements, and when can we expect it?
Yes, I’ve been making music all along. And I’ve been making self-breakthroughs to incorporate new elements into my music. I want to make better works to bring to the audience. New songs should be released in 2023. I am currently preparing for the concert intensely, and everyone is welcome to come and listen to my concert.