IvanaWhatsUP biweekly #013
過去八個月一直為下張專輯構思，卻因為現在買專輯的人愈來愈少而打擊了一點士氣。社會在視覺上不斷追求更完美和更高質素，Blu-ray已變成理所當然，DVD $100 3隻。可是，在聽覺上，大家卻習慣以方便為主，不再追求音質，一首歌從錄音室拿出來一個數百MB的檔案，經過網站壓縮再下載成只剩幾MB，其實聽者是失去了數百MB的細節，還有音樂人製作背後的心血點滴。
音樂轉型至數碼世界是事實，心裏再三怪責Steve Jobs的偉大發明卻不得不接受這個Era of Destruction的殘酷現實。只是，自小學學懂的「聽音樂陶冶性情」，其實是真實的。在沒有視覺畫面輔助的情況下欣賞一張專輯，就是在啟發聽者的耐性和想像力，聽着音樂，幻想出屬於自己的世界，刺激Creativity。音樂數碼化，YouTube化……未來怎算？
雖然如此，和其他音樂人及歌手一樣，我的音樂團隊對認真製作音樂依然一絲不苟。我仍為自己能成為香港唱作人而感恩和努力！手上兩首final mix，一首是常石磊的，一首是本地樂隊觸執毛的，經過監製Alex Fung用心製作，大家結果會先聽到那首？即將揭曉。(′θ‵)ノ
「畫日畫夜畫青空 空虛不能畫 日畫夜畫什麼畫 將畫框除下 將心跡留白 世界純潔嗎」（《留白》歌詞）Ivana認為《留白》說的是一種狀態，可應用於人生。
《留白》是Ivana今年音樂project的第二炮，早前她決定一連推出3張單曲碟：打頭陣於上月推出的《Made of Water》，即將於今個月推出的《留白》，而下一張則是方大同與黃偉文crossover的作品。打破慣例，她首次演繹別人的作品。
「一直以來我都很欣賞這些音樂人的作品，也自問不可能創作出他們的音樂風格，所以我決定去盡些，邀請這些音樂人根據他們對我的印象來創作，每首歌都會推出一張單曲碟，而且限量1,000張，製作加上拍MV，有數得計，一定蝕本，但我希望大家看到聽到音樂其實有很多可能性。」早前《Made of Water》推出市面旋即售罄，有唱片店將原本50元的定價炒高3倍，引來樂迷投訴。至於《留白》會否增加發行量仍屬未知之數，即使增加發行量，也是有限數，這樣才能稱得上限量版。
2012年11月7日 TimeOut Hong Kong
The musical mind of IVANA WONG
Hong Kong’s top female singer-songwriter tells Arthur Tam about her music, her struggles and the future of our city’s emerging artists. Photography by Calvin Sit
Influential. Groundbreaking. Pioneering. All of these words describe the general regard in which Ivana Wong is held in today – a singer-songwriter who’s long been at the forefront of a new musical sound in Hong Kong and a winner of swags of awards and accolades over the past four years. But, for many years prior to her success, this wasn’t the case for the 33-year-old.
Wong, a classically trained pianist, broke into Hong Kong’s entertainment industry after winning the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong songwriting contest, soon after writing tunes for big name artists like Jacky Cheung, Sammi Cheng, Andy Lau and Joey Yung. But with her own fledgling career as an artist, Wong, in some ways, has had to wait for the industry to catch up with her own unique sound that, as she confesses herself, treads the line between pop and non-pop.
Just last year, she put on her first concert at the highly coveted Hong Kong Coliseum and now, as she enjoys the highest point in her career so far, she’s taken it a step further with recent boundary-pushing collaborative efforts with indie rock band Chochukmo and Mainland singer-songwriter Shi Lei, as well as exploring a multitude of musical styles on her own. Wong may well be the artist that Hong Kong needs to stay relevant in Asia’s mega music arena. Or, at least, that’s what Time Out sits down with her to discuss. Among other things…
Ivana, you’re no stranger to the music industry. These days everyone knows your name.
Well, it depends on which district… [Chuckles]
I think all of Hong Kong knows you, though…
But that’s because Hong Kong is tiny.
Well, you’re still known on the Mainland and in Taiwan as well. And you did win the Best Asian Female Artist award last year on TVB…
Can you not talk about that one? I’m not particularly proud of that award.
Can you just move on with your questions?
Okay… but don’t think you’ve escaped that one. In the past year we’ve seen you express yourself quite differently. We love the visual and musical edginess of your new music videos. Can you tell us a little bit more about the concepts behind them?
The very first time I worked with director Vernie Yeung for my music video Water Lily, I loved it so much that I wanted to experiment more, explore more.
To explore your edgier side?
No. I want to explore the capacity of my music world – of my own ability to try more different styles of music. I’m playful and I get bored easily, so I don’t just want to stick to the norm.
Do you think the Hong Kong music industry is still very karaoke driven?
Maybe a decade ago but it’s getting better. People always long for more musical styles but the Hong Kong media has so much power in controlling what the audience hears. Hong Kong has to go outside to get information. They travel to Taiwan, the USA and other place for their music festivals.
But you still think that Hong Kong’s music scene is getting better and is becoming less karaoke driven. Is that in part down to the rising respect that singer-songwriters are gaining over simple idols?
The craziness and chaos happening in the world makes people want to go for the basics. They have voices they want to voice out. They want to listen to the music that represents their true self, not just one kind of music. They have the urge of looking for something new and something different, so they can express themselves. That’s why, in chaos, it’s also a good environment for different types of music and different forms of art to come out. Especially the new generation. They don’t want to just bind or blind themselves. They want to open their hearts, eyes and ears – which is good.
Are you confident in the new generation of Hong Kong artists? Do you think our city has a chance of maintaining an artistic presence in Asia?
There are a lot of upcoming talents, not just in music but in other performing arts. They will unfortunately be facing the same problem of the shrinking art scene. I’m very curious to see what innovative ideas they can bring, what sort of collaborative chemistry will spark up and how they will influence the old scene. Collaboration is a good thing.
What does this control mean for you, then? Do you think you’ve been able to control what you want to release, despite us having this ‘controlling media’?
I’m kind of on the edge. I’ve been enjoying this privilege of controlling what I want to do in music and I’ve got a lot of freedom and support from my company, but I must also face the reality that I can’t keep losing money. If you want to do quality stuff, you need the budget to do it, but the market is very small so I’m still on the edge of wanting to do cool MVs. Luckily my friend Vernie [producer of Water Lily] is willing to help. I could never afford asking him to do an MV for me. He just did it strictly to support a friend – but how many times can I do that? The line is getting thinner and it’s going to get even tougher in the coming years if I keep wanting to do what I want.
So you don’t feel that you’ve been bounded?
I seldom compromise my creativity for popularity because as a singer-songwriter I have a responsibility to bring more music to the audience rather than being bound by the media.
Do you have enough freedom with your upcoming work?
I think they’ve given me enough freedom with my upcoming Mandarin album. But when you say freedom – freedom is freedom. Even if they tell you not to do it, you can still do it. I try not to upset anyone though. [Laughs]
So it’s all about integrity and not selling out?
I hope to sell out too! [Laughs] Tickets to my concert that is. Integrity is very important when I’m doing music. I always tell myself I’d rather do a song that I really love rather than doing a sell-out song which I hate. I’d be embarrassed by it even if I got the biggest award for it. But, of course, it’s not always one or the other because I might get ‘that’ big song, which I like as well.
Back to the award question I asked earlier. Why didn’t you want to talk about it?
The answer lies in what I said earlier. I’d like to write a song that I like that might just please a small crowd rather than getting multiple awards for a song which I don’t like.
So do you mean you got an award for a song you didn’t like writing?
I must say, winning an award is always positive and I’m grateful no matter what the intention is behind it. When people give you something you just take it as an appreciation and you are thankful.
But you still aren’t proud of it?
I just think… maybe I’m not ready for such a big award. I just want to go back to being simple, pure and stay humble.
You don’t think of yourself as a big star?
No. I never think that way.
To your credit, you seem to be the only female singer-songwriter winning accolades. At least on Commercial Radio, you’ve been the only one to do so over the past four years.
Really? I guess that’s true. I guess I am doing quite well. [Chuckles]
Is Cantopop as relevant today as it was before?
Cantopop… you know, I tried fitting in. Some of the songs I wrote, I thought they were Cantopop but they weren’t. Sometimes I write according to the client or the market, which I thought was Cantopop and would be a bestseller, but it didn’t turn out that way. That’s what makes it so important to be true to your music because it has to unify your personality, your voice, the way you sing the song. I can’t carry some styles, which is unfortunately Cantopop. I’m not doing very well singing Cantopop. I don’t know why. [Laughs]
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m very much influenced by classical music. Because I studied classical piano, I think my melodies are sometimes too complicated for singing. I always want to go out from the limitation, out of the formula and use more imagination when I write music – which can also be a problem.
Tell us about the Chochukmo collaboration…
I think you show respect for people who are very honest to their music and who are putting so much effort into contributing to this small music industry in Hong Kong. The collaboration starts from the word ‘respect’. When I saw [Chochukmo] perform I fell in love with them and I just wanted to focus purely on the love and respect of the project and forget about everything else. We didn’t want to focus on what we were getting out of it.
Will you compose your third single or will your new album be composed by other artists?
Yes, it’s only going to be three singles this year that are all going to be collaborations with musicians and artists that I like and respect. I’m having so much fun and it’s actually the first time I’m not writing my own album. Again it all comes from this crazy year. There’s so much happening in the whole world. The air and atmosphere is weird…
Are you planning to expand further into China and the rest of the Chinese-speaking world?
Yes. Next year I will do my Mandarin album. I’m also planning to go to the Iceland Airwaves, the Icelandic music festival in November. I applied to perform in the festival this year but none of my band members could make it for touring.
So you want to go international?
That statement sounds heavy…
Let me rephrase: you want to branch out of Hong Kong?
I want to take out the boundaries. Wherever I want to go sing, I’ll go sing.
It sounds like you want to keep things simple?
It’s what I’ve come up with. Keeping simple and staying focused. Wait… not staying focused because I can never do that. My recent slogan is keeping simple to deal with everything in life. Not just simple – but pure.
What are the major setbacks you’ve faced during your career?
I’m now on the edge and the line is getting thin. If I still want to do my creative stuff, I have to face the reality of the small crowd I’m going to get which might not be sufficient to support my future projects. But I’ll figure something out.
So what’s the future for Ivana Wong?
I’m already starting to do the Mandarin album. This time I got a lot of inspiration from my travels in China. I’m going to incorporate a lot of elements from that trip into the album. I’ve been struggling for almost a year thinking about what I want to for my next Mandarin album because it’s been a while since the first one. Do I want to introduce newer sounds and pioneering music to the Chinese crowd? Or should I go back to the basics? It’s a struggle between both extremes but it gave me the idea of doing both. What if, on my cover I’m showing the two sides of me [divides her face with her hand] like a joker’s face. I’ve been on that fine line between pop and non-pop in my music, style and image. I’m not totally in the Hong Kong music industry but not totally out of it. So why not just stick to this because I can’t get out of the fine line. I don’t want to be on the fine line – but that’s where I am. I’m a Gemini. I have two faces, two extremes.
How does Ivana grow from here?
My growth is determined by how close a connection I have mentally and spiritually to my work. I hope in the coming albums I can have an even stronger connection – for the rest of my career even. I want to be firm about the messages I want to spread and I want to keep faith in doing so. That’s the core in my thinking. No matter how big I get, no matter how diverse I get, I just hope to stay true to my own thinking, my own music and my own message. I want to constantly remind the chaotic world the importance and the beauty of the simplest things through myself – not just in my music.
要充塞時間容易，但為自己留下空間卻很難。如此玄妙思維，來自林夕筆下的〈留白〉，亦是王菀之的單曲計劃「Atmosphere」的第二炮。她這個音樂聯乘計劃，差不多每月便與一些著名音樂人合作，並推出風格迴異但主題一致的single。首張唱片《Made of Water》限量一千張，一推出已旋即售罄更掀起炒風，證明好歌好音樂，依然有價有市。
「過去的十張專輯也是自己寫，這次我想不如邀請我喜歡的音樂人幫我寫歌，但卻是推出一張大碟，又不知道應該以哪首為重點推介，因為每一首也一定是喜歡的，於是便想只推出幾首，但每一首也是主打。」計劃名為「Atmosphere」，因為這些歌與Ivana本人一樣，像天氣般千變萬化。「既然第一首歌叫〈Made of Water〉，所以也索性以此為題了。」這次不再自創自唱，改為由水與樂隊觸執毛打造的Ivana，曲風與演釋完全超出想像。「我需要找些很unique的單位，以將整個creativity升級。這一年我喜歡上觸執毛這隊band，他們實在太正！要再說一次，他們實在太正！」可惜這張《Made of Water》市面上經已絕版，有買，真的要襯手。
第二首推出的歌曲〈留白〉，作曲方面有才華橫溢的音樂人常石磊親自操刀。「常石磊在我心中是top of the list，我對他的喜愛，甚至超越我對我自己的愛。所以常石磊加林夕，是神級合作單位。」提起林夕，〈留白〉同樣屬夕爺佳作，當中禪味更是深遠。「每個人的留白也不同，例如以畫來講，一個畫廊會在畫與畫中間留很多位置，而不是盡力去填滿它，原因就是要留白，才顯出畫的美。人生也是一樣，若情緒、思想、工作也在混沌當中，便不知道自己在做甚麼。所以凡事不能去得太盡，要抽離一下，留白一下，才會知道自己身處在甚麼景況。」