At the end of 2016, there was a song forever on repeat in Taipei, with a soulful voice describing some slightly upsetting parts of a relationship in a sense of humor. It was Weekends with you, a catchy collaboration of Leo Wang and 9m88.
9m88 is an individual and energetic rising star with a refreshingly honest and carefree attitude. She had a few gigs in Taipei before, and currently she is a music student at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York.
After her first music video spread out, she received quite a lot of positive attentions, and we are now wondering what she would do next. We invited her to do an interview with us, we teamed up with photographer Meg Chiu, stylist John Yuyi and make up artist Andrew Jin to run an editorial shoot, and she styled after her favorite music videos related to different times in her life.
Your major was fashion design, but you chose to go to The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, that's quite unusual in Taiwan(but it turned out to be great!), when was the moment you made this decision?
I went to NYC as a fashion intern after my BFA in Taiwan. At the moment, I got a chance to check out some amazing artists I’ve been listening to. Before coming to New York, I had a few gigs once in awhile. But after staying in this magical city, I realized my passion is real. Instead of being a wheel in someone’s fashion warehouse and selling ridiculously pricey garments, being a musician seems to be a more appealing idea.
What is your biggest break through lately?
I’ve been working on my compositions during this semester. Besides some songs, I wrote a few instrumental pieces that I’ve never done before, just to extend some ideas to a bigger scale. I’m also starting to work with more musicians from school or on the Internet. From horn section players to home-recording producers to amazing artists in Taiwan.
What’s your most exciting experience in NYC?
I was at AfroPunk Music Fest in 2015. Lauryn Hill was the second to the last performer to close up the festival. She was super late for her set, like almost-2-hour late. After coming on stage, she only performed a few tunes and the sound guy cut the speakers off cuz they were running out of time. Even though the audience couldn't hear the sound, she insisted to stay and play two more tunes while people were having a hard time hearing her. I guess it was the most special, at the same time, coolest experience I've had for seeing shows in NYC.
What was your favorite food for you to stay active when you face stress in New York?
New York City is a pretty intense place. I guess people over here bring me up and down. But foods can never disappoint you! Surprisingly, I eat more sushi over here. Any sushi with avocado is a YES.:)
How would you react when you meet someone rude?
Haha! I’m still kinda timid when I encounter them right on the spot.(I guess I’m not New Yorker enough lol.) I must admit, people have too many prejudices toward each other. You can’t expect others always being kind, so I’d rather adjust myself when they’re vibey. Maybe they had a rough day, you know.(or they’re just real douchebags.)
Could you talk about your new song collaborated with Leo Wang? Also, did you had fun during producing the music video?
I always wanted to collab with some rappers. A few months ago, my friend shared his music to me, and I resonated with his works a lot. So I reached out and asked if he wants to work something together. Leo is such a spontaneous guy, he sent me the demo of “Weekends with you” and made me write some hooks. Everything went smoothly cuz I feel like we are the similar type of artist. We can understand each other really well.
What is the best part of being a singer? What do you enjoy most of performances?
Singer are not the most important role in terms of a band setting, but people are mostly willing to listen to singers. It’s a gift, and we should make good use of this fact. You can’t deny that sometimes words and human voices are powerful in their own way. There’s a few times when I sang and it really touched some people’s hearts, as if I read their minds and understood their needs. I could tell from their facial expressions. That’s the moment I enjoy the most.
Since I've known you, you've been a sensitive girl, has any of your work been an exploration of your own experience?
For sure. I don’t have many originals yet, but so far everything I wrote is based on my experiences. No matter it is love, hate, or self-consciousness. I thought being honest is the best way of creating your own art.
Do you have an eternal rule to live by? and how would you encourage people to follow their intuition and take a chance?
What I’m learning in this phase of my life is to be fearless and give what you want to try. It’s always difficult to step out of comfort zone. But, the more I’m fearless and spontaneous, the more I can make out of it. It always works to me when I don’t overthink.
What is the most controversial issue you think that is important and needs our attention?
Hmmm, I think issues that are related to discrimination are tough. It could be sexual inequality, LGBT rights, races, and nationalities. We really need to let go our self-esteems and try to understand others sometimes. Or else, it’s really easy to be one of the accomplices of hurting someone without paying attention.
Do you have any upcoming plans?
I’m looking forward to working with more artists, musicians, and producers. Just to be active and keep things cool & fresh!
To check out more about 9m88 :
Photographer : Meg Chiu
Stylist : John Yuyi
MUA : Andrew Jin
Assistance : Ella Liu
Content Editor : Catherine Fong