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Fei Xiang: Human after all

SINGAPORE — Having grown up with parents who are fans of Fei Xiang, I was a bit sceptical about interviewing the well-loved 54-year-old veteran pop star who has enjoyed over three decades of commercial success. You see, I have seen his photos over the years and, well, the man just never seems to age.

Fei Xiang: Human after all

Veteran pop artist Fei Xiang. Photo: Jason Ho.

SINGAPORE — Having grown up with parents who are fans of Fei Xiang, I was a bit sceptical about interviewing the well-loved 54-year-old veteran pop star who has enjoyed over three decades of commercial success. You see, I have seen his photos over the years and, well, the man just never seems to age.

“Maybe he’s a vampire,” my less-than-helpful photographer colleague quipped. Uh-huh. Or maybe it is all Photoshop?

Well, having seen him up close and personal, we will have to strike out the latter theory. And since our interview was in the afternoon, that first one about being an ageless vampire, as well. Fei Xiang, aka Kris Phillips, is simply blessed with incredibly good genes — and when the strikingly tall (1.9m) Taiwanese-American shakes your hand and greets you with his intense blue eyes, a little piece of you just simply melts. So much for being a sceptical journalist.

We chat with the enigmatic musician about his brand new Mandarin electronica album titled Human.

Q: It has been more than a decade since your last album, why the hiatus?

A: I have been very busy performing in China and there are also many drastic changes in the music industry now because of the Internet. It’s no longer an album market, but a singles one where people download tracks they want. Like U2, I’m all for free online distribution since it provides an avenue for my music statement to the world. The money now is in “live” performances and since there is no commercial pressure for the CD, I could simply create the kind of music I love, so I have been slowly collecting songs over the years during this time of observation in my artistic process.

Q: Tell us about your new music album. How is Human different from your past work?

A: It is more sophisticated and subtle, deeper, sadder, like me. It reflects the values I hold dear. When you get older, you realise that in life, it is the people around you that matter at the end of the day. Not consumerism in society or the pressures of fame. There is electronica music in Human, but my audience is still the same; the generation who have supported me over the years and I’m sure they will appreciate the strong melodic content in the album, which touches on values, contemplation, imagination, life and death, and the meaning of it all. I hope it also reminds people to focus on time spent with our loved ones and in this world of technology, to disconnect to connect.

Q: Why the decision to use your own X-Ray for the album’s cover art instead of your pretty face?

A: When you strip away everything, underneath it all, everybody is the same. We are all just flesh and blood. There is no illusion of eternity. Humanity is fragile. My X-ray was specifically taken for the album as a statement that the stuff on the outside shouldn’t matter in this image-obsessed society we live in today.

Q: So what’s next for you?

A: I just finished filming a movie and will be busy with 22 performances in China starting from next week, which will keep me occupied till the next Lunar New Year. But I do hope to do a one-man show here in Singapore in the next year or two. It would be nice to do a concert to thank fans for their support over the years. I had fun being in Toy Factory’s production of Cabaret (a few years ago) and loved working with (Singaporean theatre director) Beatrice Chia, so I’m up for it if the right acting part comes along.

Fei Xiang’s Human CD and DVD set is priced at S$14.90 and available from HMV and CD-Rama.

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