They say good things come to those who wait, and that is certainly true for the new album “L.O.V.E.” by DUO including the “god of songs” himself, Hong Kong’s own Eason Chan.
Chan alone has released 89 records, sold more than 20 million albums, and had more than 300 solo concerts in over 80 cities since we first heard from the popular singer-songwriter way back in 1995.
He has also successfully forayed into the world of acting with acclaimed roles in the likes of Hooked on You, Love in Space, Trivial Matters and Crazy N’ the City.
Chan is also the newest ambassador for watch brand Zenith, and with “L.O.V.E.” expected to drop before the end of the year after a six year wait, we caught up with the 44-year-old.
You’ve just been named ambassador for Zenith. What do you personally look for when choosing a timepiece?
When I choose a timepiece, the brand name is important because it represents their craftsmanship. The design is important too. Comfort, yes, but to be honest, comfort is not the main thing for me. Design is very important. Materials are very important too.
For function, it does have effects on me, like a perpetual calendar that can count leap year, the sound of the ticking of mechanics in a watch gives me excitement as well.
What was the first watch you ever owned?
If I remember correctly, it was a yellow plastic toy watch with a red rubber or plastic strap. It had a massive dial and a Superman logo on it.
From choosing a specific tempo or beat to timing an album release date, how does the concept of time align with you at work or in your personal life?
To be honest, I am not very good with schedules. To put it in another way, I am not very accurate with appointments – I was worse when I first started. But I think time is on my side now. I have good people that I work with and they make sure I am on time. I am more of an emotional person, but I am also quite responsible.
For how the concept of time aligns with my work or personal life, like in an album, I tend to meet all of my schedules, but I do need a deadline for each project, otherwise it can go on forever because you can just keep on exploring and going back to it – let’s have a new guitar sound, the base is out-dated already, maybe a different brand, a different player, a different mixing, it could go on forever. So I think having a timeline for each piece of music is important.
Also, believe it or not, I am actually a very obedient person. When there is a job scheduled for me, I will do my very best to accomplish it, whether it’s a tour, a performance, an awards show, etc. I think time is important, more precisely, a deadline is important, but I normally leave that to my management and they have been doing a great job since the beginning.
How has your mindset towards the music industry changed, or has it remain the same since you started?
When I first started, I was just having fun, I was pretty much just star struck whenever I saw singers like George Lam, Jackey Cheung, Alan Tam, Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, etc. I was just thrilled to see all of my idols. I would sing whatever was given to me.
That hasn’t changed much actually, I still do that because I think I am very good at interpreting the music and the lyrics, the feelings that these two elements give me. The words inspire me. It is my job as a singer or performer to make it sound even better or real, with my own interpretation, [injecting it] with my own emotion and feelings. That hasn’t changed for the last 23 years.
But I think the music industry has changed immensely since then. I am very fortunate to hop on to what they call the last train of “wealthy time” of the music industry or even the entertainment industry. I guess I am very lucky. I tend to think that with the wide use and development of the internet, it’s so much easier for people to choose what they prefer to listen to from the whole world, whereas when I started, it was just whatever the radio or TV played.
We all have our own preference regarding what we like, what we choose [to listen to and consume], so in a way, it’s more competitive globally, instead of competing within just your local market. In a way, it also [allows for] the possibility to work with people in the West or in South Korea, in Japan, India, China, or even Africa. It closes the gap between musicians, it’s easier to collaborate with one another. It’s just different, there is no better or worse.
That way is actually quite exciting, as I get to work with people like Sting or Madonna. I was on stage with Madonna when she was touring and picked me by chance, that was quite thrilling. But that had nothing to do with me as a singer, that was just me in the audience of Madonna’s concert.
You are planning to release a new album titled ‘L.O.V.E.’, what are the key messages behind it?
Long story short, we had such a good time touring together with the whole band from 2010 to 2012. We actually decided to start recording near the end [of the tour]. Our band leader, Carl “the Freak” Wong, saw that we were going to play in the O2 Arena in April 2012, and since we were touring [together], none of us would be missing, so [we planned to] record a few songs in London.
We were all very excited about that and we all wrote songs inspired by this tour: our everyday life or the people we met, things we did during the tour, thoughts that we had. Each one of us wrote a song in his own way. The inspiration was basically from everyday life during the tour.
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Why did I spend so much time on this? It’s because there was another tour that came up in 2013 and everything got delayed. We kept on recording, and half of the band kept on touring with me throughout the Eason’s Life tour, which ended in 2016.
Then in 2017, we had an idea that because it was the last album with this contract, we should do a Mandarin album with a new producer, someone who I have kind of worked with but never worked on a whole album before. We did that and we did a mini promotional tour. After that, we thought, okay we have nothing to do in 2018, so let’s finish the DUO band album, the “L.O.V.E.” album, this year, and we did.
I am glad that everything went really smoothly and we completed it. We did all the music videos. One of the members left us, unfortunately, but Ellen [Joyce Loo] is always going to be with us. So [the album explores how we] experienced life together and [how we matured] after all these years.
Actually, there is a message that we want to share with the audience. We have gathered so many emotions within these 15 tracks, and we want to share these emotions, feelings and experiences with the audience. There’s one simple message, [this] is what we think love is. We hope they will live a lovely life [and even if they don’t think there’s hope, we want the to know] love is life.
Why did you decide to open up about your mental health and depression?
I think I am mentally healthy now. Well, I am not too sure. I think I am. I am very happy and satisfied with my life. I think the DUO tour had something to do with that because the DUO tour was too good to be true, so it was a bit depressing after the tour. And then more and more depressing things happened to me during work, so I was in a bit of what you can say was depression. But depression sounds a bit serious, I don’t want to sound too serious. It wasn’t a long term medicine-taking period, it was more emotional in a way.
I choose to be open about it because I am always open about many things, mostly my life. I am willing to open up. I am not trying to affect the world with what I say. I just choose to share it verbally with others. It’s not planned at all. I don’t know if it’s powerful or necessary, I just think it’s one of those things when a right question is asked, my answer just comes out naturally. And I think it’s a good thing when you are open about it, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad energy. I am not trying to affect anyone, but when it’s out, it’s out – let it be. And I am much better now.
How would you like to be remembered?
To be honest, I do not know. I cannot control how people think and how they remember things. If they are going to remember me, they will. If they don’t, they don’t. I am not too fond of that. I’ve had a good life so far and I hope I’ve done well. I am not sure actually. If you are going to remember me, I hope it’s something that contributed well to this society, on Earth and in my life.