“This Is Vanness”Posted December 29th, 2011 At 11:03 am By MTV ASIA
Text and interview: Natalie Yeo
For an artist who has had great success and also recently released his latest album, C’est La “V”, Vanness Wu holds no airs about his accomplishments.
Clad in a pair of black jeans, a red-striped cardigan over a black basic t-shirt, a beanie and black-framed glasses, he exits the stage arena for MTV Sessions and requests for a short break after an hour long on-air interview at the Waterfront Studios, Resorts World Sentosa (Singapore). With no hint of weariness or a lack of zeal, Vanness enthusiastically prepared himself for round two of interviews.
Vanness is nothing short of a down-to-earth, honest and sincere artist. Read on as he takes us through his journey as a growing artist in this interview. He talks about his new album, how he gains inspiration and shares the highlights of his career. He also gives insight into his passions in life and even his hairstyles!
What was the heart and direction for your new album?
The direction of it was just to be honest. The album is called C’est La “V” which is French for ‘This Is Life’ (C’est La Vie). We had a plan where the ‘V’ stood for Vanness, so it translates, ‘This Is Vanness’. And my life has three concepts: Love, Faith and Live. For me, if you have love, you have faith. Then you’re able to live through any obstacle life throws at you.
On this album, you worked with Ryan Tedder and Bruno Mars on your songs “Is This All” and “Knockin’”. How was the experience working with them?
It was very overwhelming. I’ve known about Ryan Tedder since 11 years ago, before One Republic. He was a solo artist at that time. I heard his stuff online and his vocals are just amazing. He’s a great song-writer so seeing all his success and being able to work with him 11 years later is very encouraging. I couldn’t believe I was actually working with him after 11 years of knowing about him so that was really cool.
And Bruno was introduced to me by Justin Michael. He said, “I’ve got this friend I’ve been working with. He’s a great song-writer and I think he could write some songs for you.” So I went to watch him perform one night. This was 3 years ago, before I knew who he was and before he had any songs. When I saw him perform, I thought, “Oh my goodness, this guy is amazing.” So I told Justin that I’d definitely love to work with him. I met with Bruno and told him I’ve got this thing going on and he said, “Yeah, I’d love to write for you.” It just happened all so fast.
You have released 5 music albums to date. How do you think your music has progressed over the years?
I think it’s matured, more honest to who I am. I feel like C’est La “V” is the album that’s closest to what I’ve been wanting to do. That’s why I feel like it’s my first real album because in the ones before, I was either too immature or too young to be able to enjoy the whole process. This time, I was able to have fun with it and regardless of what song I was singing, I made sure to enjoy it and that was the most important thing.
As for song arrangements, both fast and slow tracks, where does your inspiration come from?
It all just comes when it comes. There is no one key. I get my inspiration from God because that’s where it all comes from at the end of the day. It really depends on where I’m at. All of a sudden [snaps], I get this feeling and then it comes. It’s the funny thing about inspiration. It just comes. You go on Youtube, “Nope, can’t find anything here.” You go on Google, “Nope, can’t see any inspiration there.” All of a sudden you see a dog and “Oh! I got inspiration!” [Claps] It’s weird like that.
What has been the most memorable or significant moment of your solo career?
For acting, it was Autumn’s Concerto. That was an amazing time acting-wise because it took me into another level of appreciation on working on TV drama. As I had not worked on a drama in so long, my initial response was actually, “No, I don’t want to. I don’t want to shoot anymore TV drama.” I was scared and I just didn’t want to do it. But that experience really opened up something again and it was such a blessing to see the audience loving it as much as we loved creating it. For music, it’s this album that I recently released and to have had the chance to work with the people that I’ve worked on it with.
Between singing and acting, which do you feel has challenged and stretched you more?
They have both challenged me in their own aspects. Acting has challenged me to see how deep I can go with the character – How real and how true I can go with it. Musically, it’s how much more my vocal cords are able to stretch and train. Dancing? To see how much crazier I can get with the steps.
With the array of languages that you speak (English, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean), how has being a multi-lingual artist helped you in your career?
It helped me to travel [Laughs]. It helped me to travel a lot – to experience and enjoy different countries that I love and have loved watching growing up. I love watching animation, cartoons and Japanese manga. So to move from enjoying all that from young, to being able to go to the actual places that created and started it all now is… “Wow!”
You have often been associated with not just music and acting but with fashion and now your new jewelry line. Is there a particular piece of clothing or accessory that you wear that is symbolic to you or representative of you?
I have these 2 cross necklaces [Points to neck] that for the time being, I have not taken off for about a year now. I wear them everywhere. One of them is from my grandmother. She passed away about a year or so ago and she gave it to me so it’s one I keep with me. I bought this other one in Paris at an antique flea market and they said it was from the 19 or 1860s. I like them. These are the two pieces that represent and brings Jesus back to the center of everything. Then everything else just works itself out around it.
As a celebrity, you’ve gone through several (if not many) hairstyles, long to short. Which look or hairstyle is your favourite?
I get bored really easy. The reason why I grew and dyed it red that one time was because I got bored with short hair and I said, “I think I’m going to grow my hair long now.” And I dyed it a completely different colour so I wouldn’t cut it. At least it was a different style! After I grew it long, I said, “I’m so sick of this. Okay, I’m going to shave my head now”, and I went to the salon and told them, “shave the sides and shave it all off for me right now.” And they just shaved it off. It really depends on my mood. More often than not, it’s really random. When I shaved my head, again I thought, “You know what? Finally! I think I want to grow a Mohawk!” And then I grew a mohawk. That’s what I did, I grew a mohawk.
What does being here in Singapore for MTV Sessions mean to you?
It’s like a milestone. It’s a beginning of something. Of course, the originating point was from ‘Unplugged’ and I’m honoured being able to be the first person to do it here in Singapore. I hope I don’t mess it up [Laughs].
Tags: MTV Asia
Through this show, what message would you want to share and bring across to your fans?
Keep following your dreams and keep pursuing them. They are there for a reason and don’t ever give up on your dreams. Anything is possible but you just have to be patient and realise that even though you might be thinking, “I must do it by the time I’m 30,” who knows? Maybe God’s plan is for you to do it when you’re 60. You know what I mean? But as long as you accomplish it, that’s what matters and the point of it all is to enjoy the journey.
Do you feel you’re an instrument of inspiration to others?
I don’t know what it makes me, but it makes me happy to make the people around me happy! Thank you guys for always supporting me. I pray that we’ll have a wonderful journey together ahead of us and I look forward to what our lives are going to bring for each other!
Catch Vanness Wu on the premiere of MTV Sessions airing 1 January 2012, 5pm (WIB), 6pm (SIN/HK/PH), 7pm (MAL).
Repeats will air on 3 January 2012, 12.30am (WIB), 1.30am (SIN/HK/PH), 2.30am (MAL) and 7 January 2012, 12.30am (WIB), 1.30am (SIN/HK/PH), 2.30am (MAL) respectively.