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Vincent Fang, Jay Chou's Twin Star
    2009-05-08 14:56:53     CRIENGLISH.com

If you know Jay Chou as a superstar of China's music scene, you might also be familiar with lyricist Vincent Fang, or Fang Wenshan, the loyal partner who shares in Chou's Asia-wide fame. He may not be good looking or from a wealthy family, but with his natural talent and instinct for ancient Chinese style, Fang is the perfect complement to Jay Chou's shining star.

Vincent Fang (left) and Jay Chou during work [Photo: sina.com]

Yingying tells us the story of Vincent Fang's career.

In 2001, when Taiwan singer Jay Chou scored his first breakout hit with "Nunchucks," audiences were introduced not only to Chou's signature mumbling style of singing, but also to his lyricist, Vincent Fang.

Combining many elements of Chinese culture into his works, Fang is the source of the unique style behind Jay Chou's internationally-renowned music. His lyrics sound like ancient Chinese poems and often go beyond the usual love ballad fare to cover such themes as war and family. In his songs, the fragmented parts connect to form a consistent artistic idea; the vagueness in the lyrics gives a unique sense of beauty. When paired with Jay Chou's R&B, rap, or rock compositions, this fusion of styles wows Chinese audiences.

Fang's natural talent for this kind of composition has made him famous and successful.

"I have a natural passion for traditional culture, which is totally reflected in my works. I love having a consistent artistic feature. So I set a time background or a typical image every time I write something, like a blue ceramic piece, a rainy spring, a wooden bridge above a flowing river, or the anthology of the Orchid Pavilion."

Fang was born in 1969 into a "blue collar" family in Taiwan. Before becoming a professional lyricist, he worked as an electrician, newspaper deliveryman and truck driver. In 1997, the self-made young talent sent samples of his lyrics to record companies, hoping to find a new career. Record company owner Jacky Wu was impressed with his work and hired Fang to work with Chou, who had just started his own songwriting career.

 Vincent Fang is very much like a  terracotta warrior to Jay Chou. [Photo: 1111.com]

Jay Chou talks about his own impression of Fang.

"He's very much like a terracotta warrior to me, just like the ones found in Xi'an, looking serious, long hair fastened together. I think he's an ancient man living in modern times, because he always has inspiration when it comes to ancient Chinese styles of writing. He's a legend."

In 2000, Jay Chou began his singing career with his debut CD, Jay. Since then, Fang has been responsible for more than half of the lyrics on all of Chou's albums. His lyrics have twice won Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards, and have been nominated for 8 years straight.

Like many other lyricists or poets, Fang likes to let his imagination run wild.

"I will choose to flash back to the Tang Dynasty. I can visualize the framework of the city, the lifestyle of the people, the whole atmosphere. It's fantastic. I might be a mentor in a private school back then, or research the law; write some calligraphy, or travel through the mountains."

The double star at the initial stage of their cooperation [Photo: sina.com]

Some say Jay Chou would not have gotten to where he is today without Fang's backup and Chou himself acknowledges that possibility.

"Without his lyrics, these songs might not be so attractive. A lot of fans are attracted because of the beautiful lyrics, which help them visualize what they read in books. So I think we complement each other. My music becomes classic because of his lyrics. It's so cool to have such a friend. "

Even Chou's distinct rapping style that is almost a mumble doesn't compromise the audience's appreciation for Fang's lyrics.

"You can see his voice and his unique style as instruments. Actually if you sing his songs once in KTV or you buy a legal copy of our CD, you know what he's singing about. In addition, sometimes people notice the lyrics just because they can not hear it clearly."

Besides writing lyrics, Vincent Fang has also published four books. This multi-talented star clearly has much higher to rise.

For China Now, this is Yingying.



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