May 20, 2010

10Qs For Jz8. Featuring Lydia Chiew And Tay Cher Siang.

Lydia and Tay Cher Siang is Jz8.

I finally had the opportunity to meet these two awesomely talented artist of the Jz8 duo. Their debut album, is about to be released by Pop Pop Music, which you can use the link on our left panel to visit their blog site, and also sample Jz8's songs.

Lydia is the vocalist of the project, and I must confess she looks even better in person than any of her photo shots that I've seen till date. Tay Cher Siang plays the piano, and also serves to re-arrange all the classic hits on the project into Jazz style repertoire, which I am told is his forte'.

During the 3 in 1 Happiness event, they graciously took time off to allow me to ask them 10 questions. Let's get to know these two up and coming artist, shall we?

Big E: Tell us a little bit about your selves? What lead the two of you to Jz8?

Tay CS: I've been very active in the local jazz scene since coming home from the (United) States two years ago. When ML approach me for this project, I was very excited to be part of it.

Lydia: I've been a back up singer for many years now. I back up some of the biggest regional stars like Jacky Cheung, Jenny Tseng(Yan Le') and Sheila Majid amongst many others. Over the years, I've had offers to branch out for a solo career how ever, until now none of the projects looked quite as interesting as Jz8, and when ML said Cher Siang was the other half, I just could not resist, not after all the good things I've heard about Cher Siang.

Big E: Cher Siang, you mentioned States, did you do your formal musical training there? Does formal training helps in the music industry?

Tay CS: Yes, I studied music at the West Virginia University. I specialised in jazz, my favourite genre. I am now teaching piano as my day job, to help pay the bills, so the formal training does help come to think of it.

Big E: Lydia, you mentioned that you backed Jacky Cheung, one of the most respect able HK artist. Tell us a little bit more?

Lydia: I worked on Jacky's latest jazz concept album called "Private Corner" if you know about that? You can hear me in four tracks on that CD and one of the more familiar track is called "Double Trouble". (Lydia did mentioned the other 3 songs that she was featured actually, but my poor command of Chinese language prevented me from listing them, with apologies)

Big E: As you know, Hifi-Unlimited is a hifi content based blog site, so I'll have to ask you this. Do you guys have some kind of hifi at home?

Lydia: I don't have a hifi system at home, but my dad does. He had a Sony CD player, AR amplifier and a pair of Infinity speakers. I remember that we'd join him as a family listening to his favourite music. That's why I can relate to ML's Chinese jazz music concept, targeted towards the audiophile market. I think audiophiles are very blessed people, because they have the time to sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of music reproduced in the highest fidelity possible. Me? I just don't have the time, to be honest!

Tay CS: I have a beer budget Denon turn table, an integrated amplifier and speakers in my place. I am avid follower of your blog and thus, I am very aware that what I have is not really considered high end in any way.

Big E: Wow! You read Hifi-Unlimited regularly? Thanks for your support! I've hang out with musicians when I was younger and I can say that most of them don't really fuss with hifi. The fact that you have a basic set up is already a step above most musicians. Don't musicians want to hear their work in it's full glory?

Tay CS: Actually, we are enjoying the real thing day in, day out, there's really no need to settle for the next best thing, which is hifi. That's why most musicians don't bother. Don't you agree?
Lydia graciously performed an impromptu request by John Yew(CMY boss), for an unplugged performance of the song titled, Ferris Wheels.

Can you see that passion in the delivery? We could certainly hear it!

Big E: What's your opinion on music downloads? And as an artist, which format do you think your work is best represented?

Lydia: Any other format is o.k. except downloads! I don't like downloads because I feel it compromises the artistic value of our work. Say for example, I know many young people today like downloads for convenience and have a big collection of songs in their MP3 player or iPod. Problem is when I ask them who sings that particular track they are playing, they said they don't know! Now what good is a song without getting to know the artist? I must also remind that illegal down loads compromises the artist's income too. Without adequate income, who'd wanna be an artist, making music?

Tay CS: When I was a teenager, I used to read hifi rags, where the reviewers would write about their vinyl experiences not found on CDs, such as admiring the great art works on the gate fold covers, all the credits are printed with read able font sizes, the smell of fresh new vinyl and lastly that tender action of pulling out the LP from it's cover, placing it on the turn table, then lovingly brush away the surface dust on the LP, and lastly, cue the tone arm to the track you wanna play. As some one growing up in the CD era, I never truly understood what that was all about until some one showed it to me! And after I experienced vinyl for the first time, I started buying LPs of artist that I like, just to keep until I could afford a turn table! I think an LP immortalises an artist's work. I would someday like to see my work to be available on vinyl too, if that is possible. And no, I don't like down loads at all, because it sounds especially bad on MP3.

Big E: Pop Pop Music is releasing 2V1G on LP, due to their commercial success. I think Jz8 could do just as well, if not better! So your odds are pretty good indeed! Are you somewhat jealous of 2V1G because they are now going to be on vinyl?

Tay CS: I am very happy for the success of 2V1G. I really hope one day, Jz8 will make to LP format too! But I think that depends on the commercial success of our debut CD.(At this point, a visibly excited ML was heard shouting at least 30,000 copies!) I hope the music lovers like our effort enough to ensure our success.

Big E: Tell us a bit more about your 2 years working together? Do you guys do the "Diva" and have a cat fights every now and then, or is it smooth sailing all the way?

Lydia: We work together very well in fact. I am happy that there's always a consensus way to work out problems, if any encountered so far. There's no "Diva" what so ever to speak off.(Cher Siang nods in agreement)

Big E: Lydia, do you feel like there's a stigma for back up singers to fight against before one makes a successful transition as a solo artist?

Lydia: I think the stigma is all in the audience's perception. There are many who first started as back up singers in the industry and successfully made it big as a solo artist, Mariah Carey is one the most famous example. For me, I don't feel there's any reason why a back up artist shouldn't be successful.

Big E: Are there any plans in place now for a follow up album? Or do you have to wait and see the success of the soon to be launched debut CD before deciding?

Tay CS: I think that question is best answered by our producer, ML. However, I actually do have some materials at hand, which I've already composed and feel they are suitable for the project, if it should happen.

Lydia: I think the biggest problem is timing. Both of us have our other commitments and this debut Jz8 CD took two years to materialise. I don't know if the audience would wait another two years or longer for the next follow up CD. Well, just let fate take it's journey and see what happens. In the mean time, we hope the audience will appreciate and support our work of Jz8 for now.
Cher Siang explains some of the finer recording details on the Jz8 CD, while Lydia looks on.

Good times seem to fly by and before we knew it, there's a crowd waiting for the Jz8 launch event to start. I had to let them go do their thang.

Lastly, I wish both Lydia and Cher Siang sweet success. Do support the Jz8 album by not down loading, but buying their CD, so that Jz8 have a chance to be immortalised on vinyl, as that is Cher Siang's dream as an artist. We can do our part to make it come true. Me and a few friends have done our part, how about you?

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