Composer JerryC hits career high note with A Little Happiness

The music score for Singapore movie Young & Fabulous is by musician JerryC (above).
The music score for Singapore movie Young & Fabulous is by musician JerryC (above). ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Composer JerryC's rock version of Pachelbel's Canon In D opened doors for him to write movie theme songs

Taiwanese musician JerryC got his big break penning the theme song, A Little Happiness, for last year's box-office hit, Our Times.

The soothing ballad, sung by Hebe Tien of Taiwanese girl group S.H.E, also became a hit and is now up for two awards - Song of the Year and Best Composer - at next month's Golden Melody Awards.

The increased exposure has since led to more job offers for the 33-year-old - whose real name is Jerry Chang - including penning the music score for the Singapore movie, Young & Fabulous.

He says: "I've always been writing songs behind the scenes. Thanks to A Little Happiness, more people know I'm a composer and I've been getting more song requests.

"I've been lucky that so many people love the song. A Little Happiness could be the peak of my life."

He was in town on Tuesday for the press conference of Young & Fabulous, a youth dramedy produced and co-directed by Joyce Lee.

While A Little Happiness got Lee's attention, it was not the deciding factor for Lee to engage JerryC for her movie. What impressed her was his earlier work, Canon Rock, an electrifying rock rendition of the classical piece, Pachelbel's Canon In D, that went viral in the mid-2000s.

JerryC, who also plays the classical piano, was featured in The New York Times article, Web Guitar Wizard Revealed At Last, in 2006.

"Canon In D was all the rage after it was featured in the popular 2001 Korean comedy My Sassy Girl. So I thought why not give the classic a twist," he says.

The then aspiring musician has come a long way from recording himself playing the guitar in a rented room during his university days. He has written songs such as Warm Heart (2012) for S.H.E and Might As Well (2015) for sweet-voiced singer Janice Yan. The breezy Captain S.V (2012) - sung by powerhouse crooner Yoga Lin - earned him a Best Composer nomination at the 2013 Golden Melody Awards.

The music maverick, who runs Taipei-based music studio YellOut, has always had an emotional connection to his songs. "I cried when I read the script of Our Times. I put myself in the shoes of the characters, watching the young love between the students. Though the details of my own school years are blurry, I still remember similar sentiments. I couldn't help but cry again when I watched Our Times in the cinema and heard the song."

In fact, the sentimental bachelor also teared up when he watched Young & Fabulous, where the young male lead's mother is against his fashion-designer ambitions. "I can identify with the challenges of chasing a dream. I was not a music major. I did engineering. Though my parents were not against me pursuing a career in music, I felt the pressure from relatives and peers," says JerryC, the older of two brothers. His parents are doctors.

"People will look at you differently. Everyone around me was preparing to enter graduate school. It did cast doubts on my dreams."

He graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the National University of Kaohsiung, but decided not to go to graduate school. He moved to Taipei in 2005 where he eked out a living teaching guitar and doing music arrangements and composing.

Recounting his start in music, he says: "I never once felt it was tough because I was chasing my dreams."

• Young & Fabulous opens in cinemas today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'A shot at fame'. Print Edition | Subscribe