More daring approach for JJ Lin

JJ Lin's latest album Genesis shows he is keen to explore social issues and other aspects of love beyond that of the romantic variety.
JJ Lin's latest album Genesis shows he is keen to explore social issues and other aspects of love beyond that of the romantic variety.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Taipei-based Singapore singer wants to experiment with music and be more expressive

With his milestone 10th album Stories Untold, Singapore singer- songwriter JJ Lin last year won the prestigious Golden Melody Award for Best Male Mandarin Singer.

But follow-up album Genesis was shut out of even the nominations.

"I'm sure there was a little disappointment because of how personal this album is and there's a lot of expectations from family, friends and even the media," he tells Life recently.

With a laugh, he adds: "It's not the first time I didn't get nominated so it was not as bad as the first time."

At any rate, winning for Stories Untold, which was released in 2013, was already a "booster" for him, a decade after he had won for Best New Artist with his debut record Music Voyager (2003).

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"That has given me more space to express myself. After the award, I feel it's time to move on to go into new boundaries and try and experiment more with my music. I want to be more expressive and daring in my approach," says the Taipei-based singer, who was back in Singapore for various events, including performing at the National Day Parade and preparing for his solo concert on Sept 5.

Indeed, lead single Brave New World mixes R&B and dubstep to catchy effect and the title of the 2014 album Genesis points to the start of something new, exploring social issues and other aspects of love beyond that of the romantic variety.

Lin - who gives off a youthful vibe in his sporty, casual get-up of black and white zip-up, black pants and sneakers - points to Shui Xian, which means narcissus, as the most personal track on the album.

"It's a song about my grandma, it's her name as well. It's about how I remember her when I was young, her passing and how it's affected me and my family," he says. His paternal grandmother died from liver cancer in the midst of his concerts in Taipei last July.

Given his tour and album promotion commitments, he has little time for anything else at the moment. That is partly why he is not appearing in a television singing competition, be it as mentor or contestant, despite the popularity of the genre.

But he will carefully consider any offer that comes along. He says: "It's just work to me. What's more important is what to do at a given point of time - the right thing to do or the best thing to do."

While the 34-year-old bachelor was not nominated for Genesis, he was recognised for the work he did on Hong Kong singer Eason Chan's Rice & Shine album, with nods for best single producer and best composer for the ballad Listen Up.

This dovetails sweetly with his greater interest in grooming new talent as a musician and producer.

Lin says: "I watch these TV shows and I wonder, what's next for this person?

"If there's an opportunity, I would love to work closely with these new talents, be it as a mentor or as a guest on a show."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'More daring approach for JJ Lin'. Print Edition | Subscribe