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Singer shares code to musical success

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-06-30 09:14

Khalil Fong, singer-songwriter. [Photo provided to China Daily]

TAIPEI - As music plays on stage, Khalil Fong closes his eyes, his fingers quickly moving in the air, as if playing an invisible piano.

"When I was a little boy, I was a bit of an introvert, and music and lyrics were my way of expressing myself," he said.

Fong, 35, is a Hong Kong-based American singer-songwriter and producer. Last Monday, Fong shared his story in front of a crowd of more than 300 art students at GMA Talk in Taipei, where he encouraged the aspiring artists to pursue their dreams.

Fong was born in Hawaii, and his father was a professional drummer. Naturally, the younger Fong was around music from a very young age.

Fong said he started learning music at the age of five.

"As a child, I loved listening to different records. I would listen attentively to the different sounds in the songs, it was intuition."

In the eyes of many children, music may be something blasted out from radios or TV, but for Fong, music was a piece of art made of "different materials."

"Whenever I listen to the music, I would try to tell the different sounds of bass, guitars or drums, which I found quite interesting," he said.

Gradually, Fong found out which musical instruments make great music together, and what does not sound so good. Later, he met a jazz master and began to study jazz music.

Years of practice has made Fong a seasoned musician, and he has mastered different styles of music. On Monday's talk show stage, no matter what kind of music the hostess mentioned, he could improvise and sing something for the audience. When it came to understanding music, he could not stop talking.

Despite selling tonnes of records, the singer remains humble and serious when making music.

"Sometimes it's not easy to create a song, and I can write a verse of a song over and over again, until I feel satisfied with it," Fong said. "Often when I put final touches on a song, I feel like I have completed more than 30 songs, because I rewrote it so many times."

To accumulate material, Fong uses his mobile phone to record what comes into his mind whenever he is on the road, which further solidifies his creativity.

Fong's efforts have paid off. In 2017, he won Best Male Vocalist Mandarin at the Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, becoming only the third Hong Kong male artist to win the honor, after Jacky Cheung and Eason Chan.

"In my eyes, music tells stories with the voice," he said. "Every breath, and every sound can make the audience feel very differently."

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