Hong Kong pop star Eason Chan still going strong

Hong Kong pop star Eason Chan still going strong
Eason Chan Yik-shun, 43, is one of Hong Kong's best-selling singers and is known for his dynamic stage presence and versatile voice.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

Besides his upcoming Mandarin album, Eason says C'mon in~, which will be released in October, this veteran performer also plans an 18-stop tour.

Eason Chan Yik-shun is good at his job. And being a pop star is what he does.

When crowds gather at a five-star hotel in Hong Kong, he is in full work mode: big laughs, posing in front of the cameras and being talkative.

No accessories, white jacket, navy blue pants, red socks and a pair of white sneaks, he is ready to share everything about his upcoming Mandarin album, titled Eason says C'mon in~, which will be released this October.

He also plans an 18-stop tour in support of the album, which will kick off at Beijing's Tsinghua University on Sept 22, followed by other cities, including Shanghai, Hong Kong Berlin, Paris, London and Manchester through December.

Speaking about his plans, he says: "One day, I found an old T-shirt at home which had the logo of Tsinghua University. Later, I learned that it was my father's. He went there to learn Mandarin. I will wear this T-shirt when I perform in Beijing and tell the story to the students there."

Photo: China Daily/Asia News Network

Chan, who will also visit three other universities on the Chinese mainland, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Chan, 43, is one of Hong Kong's best-selling singers and is known for his dynamic stage presence and versatile voice. With more than 40 albums, Chan has performed music from a wide range of genres - ranging from pop and ballads to jazz, swing, funk, electronica and rock.

Work on the new album started a year ago and saw a reunion with producer Jerald Chan, who was a singer-songwriter of the Hong Kong pop duo Swing.

The duo, which was founded in 1999 and disbanded in 2002, worked with Eason Chan on Eason Chan's two Cantonese albums - Life Continues..., in 2006 and ...3mm in 2012.

The albums included a wide range of music styles - from funky, fresh dance songs to synth-pop sounds.

Speaking about how he produces an album, Eason Chan says: "Usually, we get a list of songs which are candidates for the new album. And some of the songwriters have worked with me, while some have not.

"This time, when we chose songs, we didn't look at the songwriters' names. It was like a game. We just listened to the music and read the lyrics," he says.

"I really love songs, which present something visual and have a story."

The first four songs released online in early August have become chart-toppers, including a song, called Echinus, written by Taiwan songwriter Ke Da-wei, in which he compares a man over 35 to a sea urchin - sharp edges on the outside but soft inside.

Photo: China Daily/Asia News Network

Commenting on the album, Jerald Chan says: "A funny thing happened when we played the songs for the boss of Universal Music Group. After listening to the 10 songs in the new album, he said, 'I didn't see any hit, which can kill'. And I said, 'We are not trend followers but trend setters'."

As Eason Chan says: "This album needs time to digest, especially in this fast-paced modern world. I hope listeners can take it slow, and they will find what they want.

"That's why we called it 'Come on in'. We invite you in to take your time to listen to the songs."

Speaking about his schedule, Eason Chan says that after wrapping up his last tour in early 2016, titled Another Eason Life's World Tour, which also took him to New York, London and Montreal, the pop singer took a break.

The tour, which last more than a year and had more than 100 performances, left Eason Chan exhausted.

"I stopped receiving new information and stopped listening to music. I needed to breathe," he says.

"Slowly, I recovered and started listening to new songs."

Meanwhile, he is also excited about his new role as one of the four coaches in the second season of Sing! China, a reality talent show aired by Zhejiang Satellite TV Station.

He says that during the show he was exposed to many young musicians, whose performances enabled him to gain a fresh perspective of music, such as hip-hop.

"These young people are very inspiring. I learned a lot from them," he says.

"Usually there is a teleprompter in front of the stage to remind me of the lyrics. But these young people do not sing from a teleprompter.

"So, now I have stopped using the machine and force myself to remember the lyrics. It feels different when I sing without the machine. I get focused."

He also credits the young singers with reminding him of his earlier days.

Photo: China Daily/Asia News Network

Eason Chan, who was born in Hong Kong and later studied architecture at Kingston University, London, began his career with a singing competition in Hong Kong in 1984, in which he beat 10,000 contestants.

He appeared on Hong Kong's music scene when the market was shrinking due to rampant piracy. Then, in 1995, he released a self-titled debut album.

Although the disc wasn't a bestseller, his songs, including Song of the Era and Hurt Letter, received praise.

His second and third albums, Tear and Always With Me, earned him a large fan base, and Time magazine described him as a "front-runner in the next generation of Cantopop" in 2005.

Then, in 2012, his show at London's O2 Arena sold out in 20 minutes. It was his second performance in London after performing at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010.

Besides music, Eason Chan has starred in nearly 40 movies and even performed in musicals in Hong Kong.

Speaking about his success, he says: "I am a lucky guy. From the very first day the record company did not force me to do anything. In an album. They always allow me to choose three or four songs.

"As for the big hits, I really have no idea how those songs can go so far. Though I don't like some of the hits, I try to learn to appreciate them."

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