Picking chance over fate

Hush explores the ideas of luck and fate on his debut solo album, Monopoly.
Hush explores the ideas of luck and fate on his debut solo album, Monopoly.PHOTO: ROCK RECORDS

Taiwanese singer-songwriter Hush says choosing the former means one determines his own destiny

In home-grown pop queen Stefanie Sun's hit 2014 track, Kepler, she sings with hints of maternal warmth, in lyrics such as "Can't wait for you to be my brightest star/I'm still willing to lend you my light/Projecting onto you, until your brilliant light/Gently hangs upon the distant sky".

It is actually about death.

So says Taiwan's Hush, who wrote the lyrics and composed the tune. Kepler was the name of his pet guppy, whose death saddened him.

"It led me to think about the deaths of loved ones I had encountered and what death meant to me when its (the guppy's) life was so vibrant," he tells The Straits Times.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Chen Chia-wei, was in Singapore recently for the annual independent music festival, Music Matters.

Referring to Sun's interpretation, Hush, 31, says: "That's the interesting thing about creative work - that everyone has his own interpretation. To me, it's about death, but to Yanzi-jie (elder sister, a form of address indicating respect), who had just given birth (in late 2012), it's about new life."

Kepler is also the name of several astronomical objects, including stars and planets. The cosmic theme of the song stems from his interest in fortune-telling. Hush points out that be it tarot cards or star signs, they are all connected to astronomy. Tattooed on his upper arms are two tarot cards - The Lover on his left and The Devil, his right.

It is probably no coincidence that he explores the twin ideas of luck and destiny on his debut solo album, Monopoly.

The original concept was a record about capitalism, but he decided that was a little too serious and preachy.

Inspired by the two stacks of cards in the game a player has to draw from, ji hui (chance) and ming yun (fate), he decided to shift his focus. "Everyone would have opportunities and destinies that belonged to him and that would have greater resonance."

If he had to choose between the two, he would go for chance, as that implies that one's fate is in one's hands. As he puts it: "Your destiny is the culmination of the many opportunities that you get."

This change in direction proved to be a wise choice - the synth-driven work made its way to several best-of-2015 lists in Taiwan.

Hush, who is a bachelor, is happy to connect with a wider audience after starting out with an indie band that bore his name, Hush. "I want to straddle the two, be a little indie for pop fans and have a hint of pop for indie fans. There aren't too many people in this realm."

For him, making music is also a way of figuring out the world.

"I would put questions that I have into my records. It doesn't matter if everyone's answers are different from mine, but what I hope for is that it would set others to think about them as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Picking chance over fate'. Print Edition | Subscribe