On May 5th, Alan Chang released Love As a Weapon, his first single since making the decision to go solo, which he worked on with his fiancée Alex Lilly, and producers Ryan Lerman and Adam Greenholtz, and the music video has recently premiered on YouTube. Having written Love As a Weapon two years ago, Alan is now preparing for his album release in September, and will be releasing further singles and performing live shows at venues such as jazz clubs. For just under two decades, Alan was Michael Bublé’s musical director and pianist and toured the world with sold-out dates on a number of occasions and, as a successful songwriter, Alan has written many tracks including the popular singles Everything and Haven’t Met You Yet (Michael Bublé). We chatted to Alan about releasing his first solo single Love As a Weapon, working with Michael Bublé as his musical director and pianist for 19 years and his upcoming music plans.
Can you tell us about your new single Love As a Weapon, which was released on May 5th?
The song was written with an Erroll Garner style right hand piano motif. Someone recently described it as indie jazz, which I kind of think fits.
Where did you get the inspiration from for the lyrics and how much did it change over time?
The inspiration came from the week I told someone important in my life that I could no longer be there for them. I was surprised at how freeing it felt and how I held some resentment for this person’s love and loyalty through the years and making it so hard to walk away from. I wrote the song two years ago and the form and verse lyrics did get a makeover from my producer, Ryan Lerman.
What was it like working with your fiancée Alex Lilly, and producers Ryan Lerman and Adam Greenholtz on your new music?
It was very easy to work with Alex. She’s such a better songwriter than I am. She was able to hone in my lyrics and give it a sharper point. Working with Ryan was a privilege. He and I have different ways to work and he opened up my eyes with his patience and loads of experience making records. Adam Greenholtz is always the smartest guy in the room, but he doesn’t let you know it right away. Our friendship makes it really fun and relaxed to be in the studio together.
How did it feel releasing your first single after going solo and what has it been like seeing the listeners’ response to Love As a Weapon?
After sitting on the track for six months, it felt good to finally get it out there and let people know that I haven’t been only working on my tennis groundstrokes. The response has been pretty supportive.
Who do you think will enjoy listening to your music and how would you describe your sound?
As mentioned before, I think and hope that it has this indie jazz sound. Whatever the hell that means! But it does feel right to me. They are compositionally simple songs that will be a vehicle for improvisation at live shows.
For 19 years, you were the musical director and pianist for Michael Bublé, which saw you perform on numerous sold-out tours, how did you find the experience touring the world?
It was a really fortunate way to live some of my years. To be with so many good friends and go back to the same museum in Madrid, pub in Dublin, cocktail bar in Melbourne, etc. was pretty special.
You’ve co-written a number of songs for Michael Bublé including Everything and Haven’t Met You Yet, how rewarding is it seeing songs you’ve written come together into a full track and seeing their chart success?
It’s all pretty baffling. There are so many great songs and recordings out there. To be in the position to help write and record something and then it actually gets heard is a really lucky place to be in.
What are some of your favourite memories from your time working with Michael Bublé for nearly two decades?
There are so many. I’ll miss checking into a hotel after a shaky night of sleep on the bus and everyone saying “lobby in five!”. The energy you have on tour to constantly take advantage of the cities you’re in with your road family was the best thing about touring.
Where does your love of music come from and how did you start?
My mother signed me up for piano lessons at age six like the good asian boy that I am. I’d say my love for music really solidified at age 12 when I discovered the music of George Gershwin and the piano pieces and American song book standards he wrote.
What is your songwriting process and do you have any stand-out highlights from your songwriting career so far?
I don’t really have a process so to speak. I think my training as a jazz pianist has helped me be able to quickly play what I hear in my head. But I oftentimes benefit from some sort of deadline.
Do you have any favourite music artists to listen to and is there anyone you would most like to work or collaborate with?
I love Elliott Smith, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, Brad Mehldau, Obie Best and Father John Misty. I’d love to play with Father John Misty for a week!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I’m pretty obsessed with tennis and my newborn daughter.
What are you looking forward to for continuing your new solo career and do you have any upcoming music plans/releases that you can tell us about?
I’ll be releasing a couple more singles ahead of the album release in early September. I’m looking forward to a slight reimagining of the songs and to bring the set to jazz clubs and intimate venues.
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