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Meet The Musos: Get To Know Chinese-Australian Electropop Artist Chai Chang

27 October 2023 | 1:18 pm | Jessie Lynch

Chai Chang's debut single 'NEW REALITY' is out now.

Chai Chang

Chai Chang (Supplied)

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Today marks an exciting milestone in the world of music as Chai Chang, a rising talent with roots in Hong Kong, China, debuts his first English single, NEW REALITY.

The single is a vibrant blend of electropop and dance-pop, as Chang's lyrics dive into the world of social media, portraying the pursuit of fame through the lens of a mobile phone screen.

The song opens with Chang crooning the catchy chorus, "So I'll just swipe my life away," setting the stage for a journey through the allure and pitfalls of social media fame. A rap and dance break showcases Chang’s indulgence in the world of social media, culminating in the poignant line, "Welcome to the new reality."

NEW REALITY is now available for streaming on all major digital platforms, accompanied by an eye-catching music video that features a combination of wavy dance moves, scenes of Melbourne's CBD, and virtual production.

Chai Chang shared his journey and inspiration behind the song, saying, "It's been my dream to release my own song and become a solo dance singer. I am always inspired by singers from C-Pop, K-Pop, and English-speaking countries.”

Born and raised in Hong Kong, China, Chang, whose mother tongue is Cantonese, openly acknowledged that releasing a song in English presented a significant challenge. He began preparations for NEW REALITY back in June 2022 and faced the challenges that come with being a new independent artist.

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"Life has never been a smooth journey for me," Chang admitted. "After completing my first university degree, I embarked on a full-time career in banking and later in education. However, my passion for the entertainment industry led me to take a break from my career and gain hands-on experience as a model and an extra. Despite slim opportunities, I believed in my potential and decided to pursue my dream as a singer."

Chang's determination led him to reach out to all the necessary parties involved in NEW REALITY. Despite the hurdles he’s encountered, Chang is resolute in his pursuit of a career in music.

Now in his early 30s, Chai Chang firmly believes that it's never too late to start something new. His goal is to bridge the worlds of English and Chinese music, catering to audiences both in the East and the West. As a testament to this vision, he included a Mandarin rap section in NEW REALITY to showcase Chinese music culture.

In celebration of his debut single, we caught up with Chai Chang to find out what you need to know about the rising electropop star.

Congrats on your debut track - can you tell us a bit about the inspo behind ‘New Reality’?

Nowadays, people spend a lot of time using and swiping their mobile phones. However, it can be challenging to determine the accuracy and completeness of the information.

The concept of 'perfection' on social media also influences our thoughts and actions. We often strive to present an idealised image on social platforms to attract likes from our peers.

This is reflected in the lyrics of the song: 'If I blurred my face until I've got no pores, maybe they can see that I am beautiful,' and 'You know that I would do anything it takes to get my 5 seconds of fame.'

It's sometimes difficult to distinguish right from wrong in this context. I invite the audience to critically analyze the positive and negative aspects of heavy mobile phone usage. The song's message underscores that this is the 'new reality,' with the closing line: "Welcome to the new reality."

If your music was a flavour, what would it taste like?

It would taste like classic fried rice. Classic fried rice is composed of rice, carrots, beans, corns, meat mince and egg etc — it is full of colour and I can taste different ingredients in one bite.

Music is so diverse with so many genres like dance, electronic, pop and R&B So it is full of different ‘flavours’ even in one song, it changes depending on the age and mood when one listens to it.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they impacted your own sound and style?

I started listening to music when I was at the age 12. There was a music TV show called ‘Jade Solid Gold’ which broadcasted new music and music videos in Hong Kong

At that time, television, radio and CDs were the major platforms where I listened to music. I always loved listening to strong beat dance and electronic songs and I admired singers who could both sing and dance in music videos like CoCo Lee and Nicole Scherzinger

So I was inspired by them to release a dance song when I grew up.

What's been the biggest moment in your career so far?

“Life is never a smooth journey for me.”

After graduating from my first university degree, I began my full-time career in the banking and later education fields in my 20s.

Due to my keen interest in the entertainment field, I took a break from full-time work to prepare myself towards progressing in this new direction by gaining hands-on experience through acting as a model and an extra. However, opportunities were really slim and I believed there was so much more I could do to contribute to this industry.

In light of this, I have made up my mind to pursue my dream as a singer and reached out to all the relevant parties involved in this debut single. The process has been very tough with lots of challenges but is worth all the effort

I would regard the successful release of my debut single as an independent artist the biggest moment in my life.

What's the most unusual or unexpected source of inspiration you've drawn from when writing a song?

I like to spend some time alone every week, simply by walking on the streets or shopping centres to observe human behaviours. A recent, unusual source of inspiration came from my visit to the Queen Victoria Market on a weekend. It was supposed to be regular grocery shopping — it was a very sunny day and people were enjoying themselves.

Suddenly, I had an inspiration for the theme of my future song and immediately dropped down notes on key ideas.

Can you share a hilarious or cringe-worthy moment from your early days as an artist?

Before starting a music project for my debut single, I tried to gather ideas and references from different platforms including Instagram.

I recall that at the very early stage of idea generation, I accidentally hit "like" on someone’s old photo and that person immediately messaged me and said ‘hi’. It was an embarrassing moment

Who are three artists you’re vibing on right now?

I am always inspired by singers from C-Pop, K-Pop and English-speaking countries such as CoCo Lee, BTS and Nicole Scherzinger. Coco Lee has been one of my biggest musical influences for years — she was the first Chinese pop singer who performed at the Oscar Award in 2001.

She devoted her entire music career to bringing music of all kinds including both English and Chinese songs. She was also a great performer on stage, both singing and dancing.

This impacted me to pursue a career in music, and to integrate English and Chinese music, whether the audience is from the East or the West.

Are there any Aussie artists you're keen to collaborate with in future?

Guy Sebastian: I have been impressed by his singing talent and being the coach at The Voice Australia. I felt really proud of him for representing Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 and have started to listen to his music since then.

Troye Sivan: I really like his music type in particular pop and electronic. As a singer and content creator, he has been bringing his unique character to the audience. He is one of the most successful and adorable artists among the younger generation,.

Can you share a hilarious or cringe-worthy moment from your early days as an artist?

Before starting a music project for my debut single, I tried to gather ideas and references from different platforms including Instagram

I recall that at the very early stage of idea generation, I accidentally hit "like" on someone’s old photo and that person immediately messaged me and said ‘hi’

It was an embarrassing moment.

What’s something that fans not might know about you?

When I was young, I never had the chance to learn singing and dancing. After university graduation, I spent 6 years working full-time day and night and sometimes even on weekends.

I am now in my early 30s. I believe it’s never too late to start something new. In the past, let’s say 10 years ago, I was too timid and not mature enough to start this out

Now I am older, but I have more courage and more life experiences to share. No matter being young or old, I think the best time to start something new is now I believe with my passion and determination, the audience can feel and share my sincerity

Meanwhile, I am currently in the final year of my online Bachelor's degree in Food and Nutrition. I feel that my life is fruitful with studying and developing a music career concurrently.

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

This is really a tough question —I really can’t think of just one album!

Music is so diverse that simply listening to one single artist or album is far not enough

What's in the works for you in 2024?

I am currently working on my second and third singles. The second single shall be a Chinese ballad song and the third one will be a dance-type song in English.

I am happy to keep releasing singles in 2024 and my longer-term goal is to release a full album, with a mix of both English and Chinese songs. In 2024, I will have to gain more experience in the music industry and develop a clear music direction for my target audiences.