Joanna Gets Real
Taipei Times, Sep 24, 2010
Joanna Wang is in charge of the set list for the first time tonight at her concert at Legacy Taipei
by ANDREW C.C. HUANG
What: Joanna — New Tokyo Terror
Live Concert (Joanna—新東京恐懼 Live
When: Tonight at 8pm
Where: Legacy Taipei (傳音樂展演空間),
located at Huashan 1914 Creative Park
(華山1914), Center Five Hall (中五館), 1,
Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路
Admission: NT$600 to NT$1,000,
available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks,
ERA ticketing outlets or online at
On the Net: www.sonymusic.com.tw/pop/joannawang
For fans of Joanna Wang (王若琳), now is your chance
to see the “real” Joanna, the outspoken singer/
songwriter engaged in a very public struggle to break
free from the jazz princess image manufactured by
her label, Sony.
In a candid e-mail interview, Wang — who will perform
more than 20 new, unreleased songs tonight at Legacy
Taipei — slams Sony for packaging her music as “jazz,”
reveals why her band is called New Tokyo Terror, and
shows her sardonic sense of humor when she says she
drinks “a glass of hatorade every morning.”
Taipei Times: Will you be performing new songs you’ve
written at the Legacy concert? Can you describe them?
Joanna Wang: I will be performing about 20 or more new
and unreleased songs. All written in the last four or five years.
The show will be divided into two parts, the former part
being my more classically influenced songs, which are played
in a baroque-esque manner, the latter being my more pop/
rock influenced music played in a traditional rock band setup.
There’s a costume involved as well! How very exciting.
TT: Will you perform songs from The Adult Storybook CD
from your second album? Any cover songs?
JW: I will perform three songs from The Adult Storybook.
As for covers ... a most rockin’ and totally awesome tune
called This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us by a
badass band by the name of Sparks.
TT: What do you think about your current status as the
preeminent “jazz singer” in the Chinese-speaking world?
JW: I think anyone who dares call him or herself a music
buff (I suppose one such as myself ... ) would say that I am
not, in fact, a so-called jazz singer. I’ve always been infuriated
at the fact that the marketing team I worked with decided
to promote me under the guise of “jazz,” when I clearly only
sang commercial pop ballads. If these ballads I had to sing
are so easily labeled as jazz or bossa nova, then I’m sure that
would be a true insult to actual jazz musicians. Deceit is a
terrible thing and this is a blatant (and not unusual) case of
deceit to consumers from the record label.
TT: What kind of musician would you like to become? What
kind of songs would you like to sing?
JW: I’d just sing my own songs. Trust me, if you’ve been
misunderstood ever since the beginning, the first thing you’d
want to be would be yourself.
TT: Which singer do you admire and would like to emulate?
JW: Danny Elfman. What a colorful musical career he’s
had! From his time in The Mystic Knights of the Oingo
Boingo, to Oingo Boingo and to his career as a TV and film
composer ... I’ve adored works from all of those phases.
TT: Tell me about the story behind the group New Tokyo
Terror. Do you write songs with them or by yourself?
JW: New Tokyo Terror is actually just me with a roster of
musicians that is constantly changing due to mostly location
and what kind of music we’re playing. I write all of the music.
The names New Tokyo Terror and my sometimes-used stage
name Chicken Joanna come from a manga called Fourteen
Years I read in my teens.
TT: You described yourself as a “cynical, angry character” in
our previous interview. What kind of songs do you write these
days? Are you going into darker and more emotional terrain?
JW: My writing style hasn’t changed much, as a few of my
more representative pieces were written when I was around 18.
I think “emotional” is a pretty lame-o word. And yes, I am very,
very cynical. I drink a tall glass of hatorade every morning!
Also I don’t trust people who use LOL without being ironic.
TT: What do you envision your next album to be like?
JW: Dark and mischievous. A mix of the classical (think
baroque), prog rock (if I may ... ) and synthesizers! I hope it
doesn’t come out too terribly.
This interview has been edited and condensed.