"Golden producer" on music's many moods

09:34, July 27, 2010      

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He and his band are giving the song Going My Way alternately a rock, pop, folk and jazz treatment, as part of the ongoing Audi On Stage festival.

The audience is impressed.

"By adopting different rhythms and emphasizing different chords, any song can be changed to evoke different moods from the listeners. It's like drawing on a piece of paper with colorful brushes," the 40-year-old says.

Although Going My Way, a new song created by Zhang for a car advertisement, was the only song performed that night, he clearly had the audience in thrall.

"I am not a master. I am here just to share my thoughts about music and stories of my music writing," he says. "For example, when I write a song for a car, I feel it first. For some, a car may represent speed but for me, it means a part of my family So I wrote the song with warmth. But it can be made to sound like rock if we change the drum beats and bass lines."

Known as the "golden producer" for many star pop singers of Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland, including Faye Wong, Xu Wei, Han Hong and Pu Shu, Zhang says he always strives to treat music like a human being, something with emotions.

"When singers come to me, asking me to write a song for them, I first think of what color I can put into the song," he says.

Having being trained in classical music since childhood and studied the cello for many years, Zhang approaches pop music with his own unique style.

"Some say classical music is boring but for me, it's the basis for pop music," he says. "It's a pity that today's listeners do not have enough patience to listen to Mozart and Bach. Pop music is like fast food, so I try to make it nourishing."

The Beijing-based musician rose to fame in the early 90s especially after producing music for pop diva Faye Wong. Albums such as Restless, Only Love Strangers and Fable have sold millions of copies across Asia.

"Faye Wong is very important for my music career and she is the only singer for whom I didn't feel the pressure of the market," he says.

However, Zhang keeps a low profile, with news about usually coming from other singers' new albums. In 1999, Zhang released his album, Underflow, whose first track I Love You by Faye Wong topped music charts across the nation.

What does Zhang think of the new generation of singers, some of whom are seen as famous more for their appearance than any singing talent? "Most of the upcoming singers have passion and their own ideas about music," he says, "but they seem to be over-produced due to the current depressed condition of the music market."

In 2006, Zhang formed his own company, Dong's Music. He says more than making money, he wanted to support friends who had been turned down by other companies. In his recently released album, although all the songs are written and produced by him, they are performed by new singers.

"I want to give new singers a chance. Today's music industry is down and it's very hard for them to stand out," he says. "I feel very happy to work with them. They are young and talented, and this is an inspiration to me."

Source: China Daily


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