Malaysian actor Huang Qi Ming likens himself to an undercover spy - he thinks of himself as assuming the role of a thespian while waiting for the past decade to recover his original identity as a singer.
The former member of defunct pop duo Island has finally attained his goal - he recently released his first solo album, Love Is Not Around.
"After Island disbanded in 2004, I thought I would return to the music scene soon to release a solo album.
But there was no opportunity to do so because of the shrinking music industry.
It turned out to be a long wait," says Huang, 40, who was in town to promote his album earlier this month.
The 10-year wait has been a fruitful one for him as he turned to acting. He says: "At first, I took up acting to tide me over before I went back to singing. After one acting project, another came along and I grew to enjoy acting."
Since then, he has starred in almost 20 dramas and movies in Malaysia and Singapore, including Malay movie Kisah Paling Gangster (2013) and MediaCorp dramas Unriddle (2010) and its sequel Unriddle 2 (2012).
In 2010, he took a short break from acting when he released his EP, Ming Mono Style.
Now it is full steam ahead for his singing career. He moved to Taipei in January last year to work on his album and has been based there since.
Starting afresh in the music world after a long hiatus, Huang admits, brought on a case of the jitters during album promotions.
He says: "When I went on a radio programme, I was so nervous that I could hear my heart beating. I learnt to relax and take it easy."
This does not mean he is worried about his younger competition in show business.
"I will not let age be an obstacle to prevent me from pursuing my dreams.
As long as I have a dream and the strength to carry it out, I will persevere.
"At each stage of your life, you will want to convey a different message through your singing.
When I was younger and part of Island, the songs had a sunshine vibe and we sang about chasing dreams.
At my age now, I want to sing about life experiences."
Indeed, Love Is Not Around includes the melancholic Years After, which ponders regret and nostalgia over past relationships romantic and platonic.
The bachelor has matured well. His youthful good looks have had the Taiwanese media dubbing him "the most handsome mature man".
His secret, he says, is "good genes".
"I can only thank my parents. When my mother was alive, she always looked very young for her age. I feel that an optimistic mindset helps to keep me youthful."
Love is Not Around is out in stores.
This article was first published on Jan 15, 2015.
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