Profile: Dave Liang

Name: Dave Liang
Ethnicity: Chinese American
From: Kansas, USA
Album: The Shanghai Restoration Project

Bio from their website:
In 2003, producer and songwriter Dave Liang launched his career with impressive force, producing for artists on major labels such as Bad Boy, Motown, and Universal Records. These successful forays into the realm of commercial music have earned him high credibility and recognition within the industry. With The Shanghai Restoration Project, his first complete album, Liang inventively marries traditional Chinese instruments with modern hip-hop and electronic production, bringing the ancient world to life in the 21st century.

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The Shanghai Restoration Project draws its creative inspiration from the old 1930s Shanghai jazz bands, an early combination of East and West that has become an international legend. Today's Shanghai is a chessboard of similar tensions and dichotomies: exotic versus familiar, lore versus technology, and most importantly, traditional Chinese philosophy versus contemporary life. The Shanghai Restoration Project captures and explores these tensions by introducing Eastern instruments and rhythms to the Western sounds of hip-hop, jazz, and pop.

As a Chinese-American, Liang aims to revive the exotic blend of the original Shanghai Jazz bands in a modern context: "Like the rest of the world, he says, China is changing so much, but it's doing so on an entirely different level from the rest of us. It's time to explore that idea musically."

 Interview: Dave Liang
interviewed on January 25,2006

  1. How did you get into the music business?

    About two and a half years ago, I received an e-mail from a former classmate of mine, Ryan Leslie, who had recently started working with Bad Boy Records as a producer. I went to visit him in Harlem and brought a few songs I had written. After listening to a few tracks, Ryan asked me if I'd be willing to work with him on some of his projects in exchange for teaching me the ropes of the business. He lived up to his word, and within a few months I had landed a track on a Carl Thomas album.

  2. Who are the artists that influenced you the most?

    I've been influenced by artists across a variety of genres, including Alicia Keys (R&B), Alison Krauss (country), Antonio Carlos Jobim (Latin), Bill Evans (jazz), Chanticleer (vocal), Claude Debussy (classical), Dave Matthews Band (rock), Moby (electronic), and the Neptunes (hip-hop).

  3. What was your inspiration behind the sound of this album, The Shanghai Restoration Project? What was the concept for this album?

    As an Asian-American, I always had difficulty identifying with a single genre of music, whether it was hop-hop, rock, country, etc. As a result, I could never produce these genres the way someone who fully embraced them could. After much experimentation, I decided one day that the only way I'd feel comfortable musically was to fuse all of these styles together and add a taste of my own heritage. In many ways this project mirrors my upbringing as a Chinese-American delicately balancing Eastern and Western influences.

  4. I love the way you've combined classic Chinese melodies with modern beats. Were there any particular Chinese instruments used in The Shanghai Restoration Project that are not commonly heard in the states?

    The project features a number of traditional Chinese instruments including the dizi (Babylon of the Orient), erhu (Lu Xun), xiao suo na (The Bund), yang qing (Old City), and the gu zheng (Jessfield Park).

  5. Your album is among the top 100 Downloaded Electronic Albums on iTunes internationally and reaches #1 on MSN Music 100 Electronic Albums. How does it feel to have your music reach international listeners?

    I'm very excited to see the project doing so well internationally. From the beginning, one of the goals of the project was to create something that people from different backgrounds could enjoy, regardless of prior exposure to Asian culture.

  6. Asia has such a deep and rich culture that is not often appreciated here in the states. Do you feel this album will be able to stir interest in Asian music?

    I definitely hope to stir more interest in Asian music with this project. The entire continent is a cultural goldmine just waiting to be explored.

  7. What is your take on Asian artists in the music industry? Do you believe they will ever be able to break into mainstream American?

    It's only a matter of time before an Asian artist becomes accepted in the mainstream. However, this will only happen when an Asian artist finds a way to celebrate his or her culture in a way that appeals to a broader demographic. In the end, non-Asian-Americans have to be drawn into Asian-America for a breakthrough to occur.

  8. What can your fans expect from your in the future?

    Even more experimentation one of the best things about this project was being able to draw from so many different genres and influences. I plan to continue this eclectic journey with every project I release.

  9. Where can people go to buy your music?

    The Shanghai Restoration Project is currently available on iTunes, MSN Music, Napster, Rhapsody, and other digital download services.

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