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Taiwanese rocker Shin wants change


Publication Date : 03-09-2012


With his powerful pipes and a penchant for shooting for the high notes, Taiwanese rocker Shin often comes across as broodily intense on his albums.

Speaking over the telephone from Taipei, however, he sounds unexpectedly mellow and chill in his low quiet voice.

Even though he has no idea how his latest album, "Before The Dawn" (2011), has been received here, the 41-year-old says he is not nervous about performing in Singapore on September 28 at the Max Pavilion.

Shin, whose full name is Su Chien- shin, says: "No one would have heard a newbie's songs before, so I'll treat myself as a newcomer on stage performing my new works, as that's the most genuine and direct way."

He is part of the line-up for the Guinness Arthur's Day Concert, which includes Hong Kong's Paul Wong, Malaysia's Gary Chaw and China's Della Ding Dang. The Arthur's Day celebrations were first held in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewing company.

Ask Shin about the music video for "Before The Dawn" being banned for broadcast by the Taiwanese authorities though and he suddenly gets riled up.

The music video, starring actress-host Barbie Hsu, was set in an apocalyptic landscape filled with attacking zombies and was deemed to be too violent.

He says: "It was not unexpected. It's a useless bureaucracy and crappy government who have no idea what the people want and have constantly changing standards. Crappy, thoroughly crappy."

Perhaps he feels so strongly about his fourth solo album as this is the first time he has written all the music and lyrics. The album peaked at No. 5 on Taiwan's authoritative G-Music charts.

Prior to going solo in 2007 with the album "I'm Just Me", Shin was the frontman of the rock band named after him, Shin. He made three studio albums with the band.

The rocker says his unhappiness is not just about the ban.

In contrast to Singapore which is doing well economically, Taiwan seems to be in a "drunken stupor". He adds: "Taiwan is getting to be a scarier and scarier place."

And he wants to do something about it. He says: "A lot of people say musicians should not touch politics, but musicians should express the true thoughts of the man of the street in song."

While "Before The Dawn" and the next album, titled "I Remember", deal more with personal emotions, he wants to do something different after that "to get people to care about society".

He laments that he is not influential enough as a harbinger of change though. Asked how he would go about becoming more influential and he says: "I don't know. If I did, I would have ventured in that direction long ago."

It would certainly be interesting to hear what a more politically-minded Shin sounds like on record. That is, if he remains a singer.

He says: "Things should take their natural course. Right now, I love to sing so I'll continue to sing. Maybe after this conversation, I'll decide tomorrow I won't sing again and just leave the business."

Which does not mean that he does not feel a sense of responsibility towards his fans. He just sees it differently.

He says: "When you are up on stage, you are their god and the outlet for their emotions so that they can unburden their emotions through your voice. Off the stage, you don't have to explain your life to anyone."

His rocker cool extends to how he views relationships as well.

Shin, who is divorced and has a daughter, says: "Just let things take their natural course. I sound like I am being pushed to the brink in love ballads only because they are hard to sing. And many of them were not written by me."


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