Daryl Wang: “I started writing music when I was fourteen, mainly to impress a girl I liked.”
Daryl C. Wang (aka NIN9) represents the up and coming generations of popular entertainment. Having
produced for notable artists such as Eurovision 2008 Finalist Michelle Purvis and Hong Kong TVB entertainer Vincent Wan (溫 家恆),Wang began an early career at the age of 16. Wang’s music reflects his diverse musical background. Learning the violin at the age of six and later picking up the piano and guitar, Wang brings a fresh take to the expanding pop genre.
Wang has produced and performed for clients internationally while simultaneously pursuing a BM in Music Composition at the University of Southern California. In 2008, he wrote, produced, and performed in Singapore for MediaCorps Channel 5 television show, Singapore OK! which featured artists Jones Shi, Damon Yeoh, Ein Ein, and Brenda Chan. Wang also worked on the charity album Ode to Joy, featuring many notable artists such as Singapore Idol Contestant Anson Goh and Wayne Erh. In the summer of 2009, Wang interned in Hong Kong under the guidance of critically acclaimed producers Hanjin Tan and Alex Fung for The Invisible Men. In Hong Kong, he worked with several artists including TVB Host Benji Chiang and new artist Vincent Wan. In 2010, Wang signed a production deal with Miami-based Golden Leaf Records, producing several tracks for Norwegian artist and Eurovision Finalist Michelle Purvis. Wang is currently producing for LA-based R&B artist Rudo and hip-hop artist Krazy Irv.
In addition to production, Wang has a strong performance career being versatile in both vocal and instrumental performance. In 2008 he performed in Singapore at Clarke Quay’s Lunar Bar & Lounge for the debut of the Ode to Joy Charity Album. In the same year, he performed in the Artchemist Music Video for Media Corp Channel 5. Since then, Wang has recorded and released three tracks under the alias of Beat NIN9 with one of the freshest new MC’s on the scene, Bone. In 2010, Wang performed at the KCET Asian American Awards Red Carpet Event.
Wang has produced and performed for clients internationally while simultaneously pursuing a BM in Music Composition at the University of Southern California. In 2008, he wrote, produced, and performed in Singapore for MediaCorps Channel 5 television show, Singapore OK! which featured artists Jones Shi, Damon Yeoh, Ein Ein, and Brenda Chan.
HIS MUSIC BACKGROUND
I started writing music when I was fourteen, mainly to impress a girl I liked. Her name was Tian and she was an amazing pianist, a great songwriter, and she could sing the hell out of a Jay Chou song (arguably the king of Chinese pop). So I plotted and schemed and decided to learn how to play “Qing Tian” on the piano, one of his more popular songs, in an attempt to win her recognition. Well, I learned the damn thing and played it for her. I remember distinctly how she took over the keys and instantaneously played the same thing I just spent hours learning by ear. I wasn’t sure if I was in love with her or her skill, but whatever. I had to be able to do that.
We became good friends and we would share our compositions with each other. We never got together, but hey: when you’re fourteen, life goes on and I just discovered (unknowingly) that music would become my life’s goal. I spent the next couple years sharpening my new-found piano skills and exploring the Chinese music scene. I eventually took on an internship in Singapore at a small studio where I learned the basics of recording and production. From then on, I took what I knew and embraced all types of music – hip-hop, pop, house, shoe gazing, classical – you name it. I went from song-writer to producer. After another internship in Hong Kong I moved to LA for school, and since then have been working in the popular music scene there. If you’re familiar with LA music, it’s a lot of Top 40, club, and progressive everything. It’s alive and almost everything is accepted. I’m currently working on five projects simultaneously, in genres ranging from Britney Spears pop to Trey Songz R&B. It’s busy but I love what I do. My philosophy in music is really to do what you think sounds good. Of course you’re going to be influenced by what you grew up with. But whether that may be rap, rock, pop, or all of the above, you have a unique set of ears that you have to trust.
DARYL C. WANG
24 SEPTEMBER 2010 | PORTFOLIOFUSIONMAGAZINE.COM | MUSICIAN
“I’m currently working on five projects simultaneously, in genres ranging from Britney Spears pop to Trey Songz R&B. It’s busy but I love what I do.”
INTERVIEW By Ruth Omanya
RUTH: You have a vast background in music from classical music, song writer, to producer. How did that evolve?
DARYL: For the majority of my life, music was something I took largely for granted. I just practiced violin because for as long as I can remember it was what I did. It was really only when I started to apply for college through their music programs that I realized, hey: I’m actually going to commit my whole life to music. No turning back since then.
RUTH: What influences have you had with hip-hop, pop, house, shoes gazing, and classical, and how did you embrace them?
DARYL: I kind of had two versions of me going on at the same time while I was growing up. On one hand, I studied violin at the San Francisco Conservatory, per-formed with private orchestras around the bay area, and sang in my school choir. On the other hand, I was a hip-hop addict that pumped Lil Wayne’s “Carter 3” while driving around Palo Alto and Orinda, my child-hood towns. I guess you could call that my alter-ego, NIN9. But in the past year I’ve really learned to love all types of music. Studying contemporary classical music at USC really opened my mind to composers like Gorecki and Crumb. I can’t say I love all of it, but al-most all of it is interesting. And if you haven’t heard music from either composer before, check it out. It really makes your hardest rock and most progressive trance easy to take in. Once I take it in, I digest it no matter how far out it may seem. And a lot of the time, I find that the more unusual pieces are the ones that inspire me the most.
RUTH: Who are some of the musicians you have worked with, and how were those experiences?
DARYL: The best experiences I have working with musicians are when the energy in the studio is just right. There are no arguments, only discussions, and there is a sense of respect in the atmosphere. The thing about creativity is that it’s a sensitive subject, so a lot of people tend to tread lightly. But I think that’s totally wrong. A lot of criticism is passive aggressive and that just doesn’t feel good. I’m currently working with an R&B artist named Rudo and I love the way we work. Usually him and I and his manager Joe will spend an evening at my studio doing what we need to get done. I make the instrumental first which is often times based off of lyrical and melodic content Rudo came up with prior. He’ll later lay down demo vocals so that all three of us can review the song. If we like it, we go on and record the final version at my friend Dave’s studio, In Fidelity. If
RUTH: Where did you grow up?
DARYL: Although I was born in Texas, I moved to the bay area when I was just 6 months old. So yeah, I grew up there for most of my childhood. Even so, I often moved between cities, staying in Fremont, Palo Alto, and then Orinda, mainly because my mom was relentless in transferring me to constantly better schools. And I really have to thank her, because most of my growth as an individual happened because I had to deal with new situations all the time. If you think about the stress there is in first going to high school, I went through seven different schools for my K-12 education.
RUTH: What was the most memorable experience in the music business, and how did it strengthen you as a musician?
DARYL: My most memorable experience in the music business was also my biggest lesson. When I was eighteen, I took on a summer internship in Singapore at a small, independent studio called Walkwork. There, I quickly learned the basics of arranging and producing. I was young and definitely over confident and ended up taking on the task of producing an entire charity album under the guidance of my boss. I produced for six artists, all from different backgrounds. Anson Goh was a Singapore Idol contestant, Damon Yeoh (who ended up be-coming my really good friend and mentor in a way) was and still is a vocal coach and music school manager, Tay Kewei and Ein Ein are rising stars; you should definitely check out their music. Anyway, the whole project kind of missed target in a way. The quality wasn’t there. Not going to point any fingers - really it was my own irresponsibility in overestimating my own ability. But this experience was also the first time I made friends within the Chinese Pop industry and I felt like I sort of be-longed to the “music business”. I had, and still have, a long way to go, and that experience always reminds me to be humble no matter what type of success comes my way.
28 SEPTEMBER 2010 | PORTFOLIOFUSIONMAGAZINE.COM | MUSICIAN
RUTH: Do you consider yourself a music writer, producer, or just a musician?
DARYL: All of the above. At school I write notes. At home I make beats. And outside, I perform.
RUTH: How old were you when you started playing piano, and do you still play?
DARYL: I don’t really know exactly when I started. I just kind of picked it up in high school because there was a piano lying around in the house. It started with small things, like wanting to play a certain pop song and ended up in composition and improvisation. And by the time I entered college, I was playing Chopin nocturnes and Debussy preludes.
RUTH: Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years from now as far as growth in the music industry?
DARYL: I want to be like Kanye! Just kidding...well, sort of. Aside from all the drama, he produces, writes, and performs his own stuff and everything he does is unique and creative. I hope to first establish myself as a super producer and then branch back into performing, reviving my hip- hop duo Beat NIN9. My primary goal right now is to sign to a major label or distributor as a producer in order to get access to their client roster. That way, if I have a beat I want to pitch to, let’s say Rihanna, I could directly send it to her camp without having to go through too many middle men. I have confidence in my work and in my manager. We’re sending out my portfolio by the end of the month along with a brand new website to showcase my work. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
RUTH: What is new for you - any upcoming projects?
DARYL: I’m working with Rudo on a crazy club track. Think Tiesto meets Kid Cudi. I’m also working with a Chinese singer on her EP. Since it’s still in it’s early stages, I don’t want to discuss too much about it now, but look for updates on my site in the future.
RUTH: Who is your idol?
DARYL: I look up to and respect a lot of people. Dark-child, Kanye West, MGMT to name a few. From the dance side, Tritonal, Kaskade, Jochen Miller, and of course Ar-min. My friend Jones Shi who’s doing his own thing in Asia now. His new EP is the BOMB.
RUTH: Now that you are older and not “14” anymore, would you learn to play an instrument to impress a girl?
DARYL: If she’s worth it, why not? I think it’s kind of romantic.
RUTH: What advice would you give aspiring musicians?
DARYL: Love what you do, not the fame or glamour. It makes the potential downturns in your career a lot more tolerable. Also, network like it’s your profession. Learn from your social mistakes to better your position in the future. I can’t stress enough how many opportunities were created for me because I initiated conversation at a gig or while waiting in the studio. And lastly, never have the attitude that the people you work with are just business.
IMAGE BY CHRISTOPHE WU
SEPTEMBER 2010 | PORTFOLIOFUSIONMAGAZINE.COM | MUSICIAN 29
RUTH: Can you play guitar? If so, how long?
DARYL: I’ve played guitar for a couple years, but I haven’t pursued it aggressively. It’s more for my own enjoyment. But my cousin can shred on his guitar. He’s got a band in Taiwan called Iron Banana. If I remember correctly they won a pretty big competition there a couple years back.
RUTH: What challenges have you faced in the mu-sic business and how have they helped you grow?
DARYL: Last summer I interned under Tan Hanjin and Alex Fung, both renowned producers in Hong Kong, producing beats, and editing vocals. Work-ing for them was by far the biggest but hardest step I took in production. They were strict but fair and didn’t tolerate amateur work. They pushed me to be the best I could be, or rather, they really didn’t give me any other option. It was either deliver or go home. They explained to me the depths of mix-ing, vocal editing, and allowed me to observe their work. One time I even accompanied Hanjin as his personal assistant to an interview he had at DADA Bar. That was fun! Oh yeah - and I was also the mail man, delivery man, and go-to boy. But it was discipline, and I needed it.
RUTH: If you were to have your dream opportunity to work with a musician in the industry, who would you wish that musician to be and why?
DARYL: Kanye. Have you heard “Power”? That is a bomb track.
“I know the common thing to do is to separate personal relationships and business, but realistically, that rarely happens in the music industry. You have to build a team of people – everyone from songwriters, producers, artists, and managers – that you can trust. That’s your crew, that’s your entourage, and it’s a beautiful thing!” - Daryl Wang
IMAGE BY CHRISTOPHE WU
GET A PRINT COPY OF THIS ISSUE
30 SEPTEMBER 2010 | PORTFOLIOFUSIONMAGAZINE.COM | MUSICIAN