It takes strength and resolution to destroy oneself and begin again from scratch. But Lin Chung (林
"I used to write songs with my guitar. Now I use this," Lin said, pointing to a digital synthesizer and sequencer in his Shinlin studio.
"The future of music is less about song, less about melody. The feeling, the atmosphere will be more important. Sometimes people just need a wave of sound," Lin said.
Now 38 but still baby-faced, Lin lives in his small studio, as he prepares to release his new album, the first Taiwanese-language electronic music album.
Ten years ago Lin was a household name, with his music videos seeing constant rotation on TV and his 1989 song Marching Forward (向
In the video Lin sings "Ohh' Go ahead!/Oh' I fear nothing/in such a big city like Taipei/I'm gonna make something to return home with pride" while moving to its disco beat along with his corps of dancers.
Singing rock 'n' roll in Taiwanese without any trace of self-consciousness was rare at a time when the only Taiwanese-language pop songs one heard were by Nakashi-influenced crooners singing pained love songs. Lin's rock was refreshing and exciting both for the pop music scene and for society as a whole, which had just been freed from martial law, during which the Taiwanese language was marginalized. Marching Forward was practically a theme song for the political movements occurring at the time.
Politicians, hoping to boost their street credibility during the nascent so-called political "localization" drive, appropriated the song as an embodiment of the Taiwanese spirit. Lin Chung then went from being a pop star to a symbol for an entire social transformation.
"Three years ago, some KMT politician even offered me NT$400,000 to sing Marching Forward for an election campaign rally," Lin said. He rejected the offer, refusing to be drawn back to that part of his past.
After the success of Marching Forward, Lin released a hot-selling album titled Spring Young Fellow (春
It was about this time that fame began to wear on Lin and he began searching for an exit from the media's incessant gaze. Then he became close friends with the acclaimed Taiwanese film director Hou Hsiao-hsien (
"Director Hou by chance went to see Lin at a recording studio. And he was truly impressed by Lin's strength and devotion to singing. He thinks Lin has a quality of typical Taiwanese men -- truly sincere and focused on what they like to do. And that was the kind of person Hou was looking for to play the protagonist in the movie Puppet Master (
"Director Hou had a great deal of influence on Lin Chung, good and bad. The bad part was Lin later walked away from the mainstream pop music scene and his idol image to become the media's favorite bad boy. The good was that Lin became quieter, like director Hou, who tries to focus on his own art," said Jessie Huang (