Singer David Tao wants to give musicians a leg up

Music veteran David Tao is opening a music school in Singapore to connect aspiring singers and songwriters with industry professionals

8Q

Taiwanese singer-songwriter David Tao is on a crusade to uncover the next JJ Lin or Stefanie Sun in Singapore.

So determined is he that he has started a music school, known as the David Tao Academy Of Musicology, right here in the Lion City.

The school has no physical campus, but will hold regular workshops and lectures where accomplished musicians will be invited to share their professional and personal music journeys.

It will also help to link up aspiring singers and songwriters here with producers and other music professionals to give them a leg up in their music careers.

Tao was in Singapore last month for a concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, as well as to promote the academy.

Speaking to The Straits Times at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, the 48-year-old says in English: "In the digital age, it's easy for people to share their music with the world. But if you want it to reach a wide audience and have your music widely accepted, you need the tools to make that happen - tools such as knowing how to write better lyrics or making better music arrangements.

"I hope that this academy will be able to help groom the next generation of musicians."

Why Singapore?


The David Tao Academy Of Musicology, set up by the Taiwanese singer (above), will hold workshops and lectures where accomplished musicians will share their professional and personal music journeys. PHOTO: GREAT ENTERTAINMENT

He says without hesitation: "Because Singapore has produced so many great musicians. There's Kenn C, there's Peter Lee and Paul Lee, Martin Tang and Goh Kheng Long, and so many other great musicians working behind the scenes.

"I think it's wonderful making music here. Singapore is such a multiracial country, so people are exposed to different types of music since young. That helps them have a wide knowledge of music styles."

Geographically, he adds, Singapore works great as a central hub if he wishes to reach out to musicians in nearby countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

"Taiwan is a little isolated in comparison. So coming out here and getting in touch with so many different cultures and people of different backgrounds is always a breath of fresh air."

Tao, who made his debut with his self-titled album in 1997, is a Golden Melody Award-winning singer-songwriter who has sung hits such as Just A Friend and I Love You. He is also known for popularising R&B sounds in Mandopop.

Tao, who is married, says: "I will continue to make music of my own, but it's important to help the next generation of musicians too.

"Everyone deserves the chance to have his music heard. Let's all make more great music together."

1 There were news reports last year saying you were interested to relocate to Singapore. Is that true?

My wife really likes Singapore after coming here a number of times and she tells me she wants to come back. She's familiar with Singapore after accompanying me on my work trips here.

I can't just say that we'll pack up and move out here, but I won't rule out the possibility. I actually hope to view a few apartments here while I'm in town.

2 What do you like about Singapore?

When I first started out as a singer, I used to come to Singapore to do promotions all the time.

Those are fond memories for me. There's a sense of familiarity for me here. I also have some good friends here, so it's always good to be back.

3 You've been in the industry for 21 years. What's your proudest achievement in music in the last two decades?

I feel that my biggest achievement has been to bring more types of music to the audience - not just R&B, but all the different types of music I personally love and listen to.

4 Is there anything you wish you had done differently in the past two decades?

I wish I had produced more albums and songs.

Of course, my career isn't over yet so I'm still working on producing more music and albums.

5 Going forward, what else do you hope to achieve in music?

I feel there are certain groups of listeners that are being neglected and not looked after.

For example, I feel the market is so targeted at the young generation and its trends that 30-, 40-and 50-year-olds don't have music that's written for them to listen to. I really hope that I can speak to that audience and write music that's valid and touching for them.

6 Do you think your future albums will have a different sound then?

I'd like to experiment a bit more and maybe record and produce an album outside of Taiwan.

My recording studio is there, my company is there, but I feel like if I try to step out of my comfort zone and record elsewhere, I might find new sides to my music.

7 What are you listening to right now?

I'm always listening to what's current and trending, and also to what used to touch and inspire me.

I think in the United States, a lot of advances and breakthroughs are being made in the hip-hop and rap genres. I may not be following any particular artist, but I will listen actively to what they are doing in terms of songwriting, lyrics and sonically.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

Not so much as just a singer or as an artist, but also as somebody who tried to change the music scene.

If my music can give people a positive effect or a boost, and strength, I think that's how I would like to be remembered.

• For information about the David Tao Academy Of Musicology, go to www.facebook.com/dtamsg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2018, with the headline 'Out to give musicians a leg up'. Print Edition | Subscribe