I am a Taiwanese Celebrity, AMA (self.IAmA)
submitted 16 days ago by newtokyoterror
(I am a really frustrated singer-songwriter who very unwillingly and unfortunately occupies the Taiwanese/Chinese market niche as their very own Kenny G aka maker of soft ((fake)) jazz music)
Hi, I hate to tell you my story, because that means you'll know my name, and if you know my name, you might google it, and inevitably come across the most embarrassing pictures and music videos a 23 year old can have to her name. I have been an internet lurker for sometime, and believe me, I've been really tempted to tell my life story, but I just wasn't sure if I'd just end up getting a "tits or gtfo" as I, having pretended to be a white male in his twenties, have written so many times.
So, our tale begins I suppose. I am a Taiwanese-American raised in Southern California, and my father is a fairly successful record producer in Taiwan. From elementary all the way to high school, I listened to a lot of Queen, The Beatles, classic rock radio, some classical music, videogame music (I really loved Zelda/Mario/Castlevania), soundtracks from Sound of Music/Alice in Wonderland (1951)/The Nightmare before Christmas, and Oingo Boingo. It was in my heart and soul to be some strange and goofy theatrical blend of Danny Elfman/Paul McCartney. Around when I was 15, my dad came across the really crappy songs I had written and Beatles covers in my MD player. And I suppose he thought those were good enough for me to record a better and more polished demo. After the demo had been circulating in the T-Dubs for awhile, some label guys were interested. And so at 16, I dropped out of high school and began my journey as the Kenny G of Asia. I wish I could Prince of Bel-Air you right now, but unfortunately this story is real.
At 17, I signed my first contract with Sony Music Taiwan (a decision I would soon have extremely mixed feelings about. regret, fear, frustration, arousal, and sometimes hunger.)
Long story short, the first two years was not what I expected and hoped for at all. After a lot of "no's, but's" and reluctant "yes's", at 19 I debuted with a shitastic record with the cheesiest and cliche 80's-esque music videos to very lame music that my label coerced me into singing; with overall very un-good choice of clothing, hair and makeup. The night of the debut date, I held my head in my unmanicured and hairy hands and knew my chances of ever being respectable and cool have been destroyed. and I cried until my sobbing became a sweet and gentle snore. and boy was I right about the not being cool part.
After the debut, I somehow was beginning to be seen as a "pioneer" jazz singer in the general region of Taiwan and China. The songs I had to sing are unabashedly corny ballads, but because the record was marketed as "Music from the Norah Jones and Lisa Ono of Taiwan", people listen to too little of anything to actually be able to differentiate that these are just ballads, instead they thought they'd become sophisticated jazz listeners. All the adoration for such lame music from these listeners just fueled my misanthropy further when I knew everyone just blindly labeled me as a soft jazz singer, and all I wanted to be was a songwriter for a cheesy and spooky musical. But hold on, the bitch-fest continues.
About half a year passes, I start to make my second record, by this time I have explained how I felt about the whole situation to my dad (who also produced my first record, and at that time he felt it was best to not go against sony's wishes, because of that our relationship wasn't very good when we were making the first record) enough that he agrees so we record all of my own songs, (though these are still my more commerically acceptable compositions) I am fairly happy with said record. We go back to Taiwan. The asswipes at sony are like "this won't sell, add some covers, more ballads, more pop songs, here's a song with Nokia, here's another song you could sing that will net us airtime from this sponsorship." My own album ended up being a "buy one get this as a bonus disc" next to the array of songs we ended up adding.
I took a two year break from the general gayness of the situation, specifically the media and the label. Then last year I proposed to my label that I would record a cover album (and I'd have final say on the songs) but they would also have to fund me to record my own record and release it in Japan. Miraculously, they okayed my diva-ish request.
So after all the mildly bad treatment for 5 years from my label, I, who was completely (and in my opinion, unfairly) suppressed from making non-shame-inducing music and instead having to sing laughable lame asian ballads, finally finished my record this May, and it dropped in Japan 8/24. Although for the first time in my life, I made a record that I'm truly happy with and it's one that can actually represent the kind of music I want to make, I don't think my label's going to promote it very much (so you'd understand why I say unfair, because I finally get to do something of my own, and it's probably not going to see the light of day in most places.) So I'm just going to take action into my own hands and encourage pirating of the record in a demographic that might otherwise never hear it. I'm just fightin' the good fight against the Man, man.
My name is Joanna Wang. I also go by newtokyoterror. You will remember me, because on this day, you read a really long article on reddit?
tl;dr: I just wanted to be Danny Elfman but flukily became known as a lame soft "jazzy" ballad singer in Taiwan/parts of Asia. lolwut????
Grooveshark playlist of new record, if you want to listen
edit: thank you everyone for being so great. I think the reason why I've been so angry at the business was because during these few years, anything I did that I felt was more interesting (and imo superior) than the music my label wanted me to do, my label would just throw it to the wind or neglect it. And after five years, they finally agreed to fund "Bernie", after it's completion I was getting the "this isn't going to sell so we're not really going to promote it outside of Taiwan." I felt so frustrated, I'd gotten really far but now have gone back to square one. But today so many of you having given me such amazing feedback about the album that I almost feel like the first album wasn't so bad after all. It was really only so bad because that was the only thing I was recognized as, as, imo, it is the type of music that immediately discredits me as a capable musician. I sound undeniably ungrateful in this post with my biznatchy snide remarks, that I know, but thank you for bearing with me. anyway, again, thank you so much, this was a very therapeutic experience for me. as I've never really had this experience of being accepted and appreciated for what I really wanted to do.
edit again: after 19 hours of marathon answering, I have to catch me some zzz's. if you guys leave comments I'll get to them when I wake up. ttyl