Will Tang

Will Tang

BandBluesSinger/Songwriter

"Will Tang is a blues culture shock and a definite asset to the future of blues" (Blues Matters! magazine). Renowned as the number one blues harp maestro in Asia, Will Tang is back in the UK, bringing a new energy to and integrity to the roots music scene. See for yourself

Biography

PRESS RELEASE 15/04/08

Will Tang, singer-songwriter and harmonica maestro, releases his new single, The Other Side, through Zen Music on May 12th. This follows hot on the heels of his acclaimed debut album, Everything Changes, an eclectic collection of roots-influenced tracks penned during Will’s time in Hong Kong.
The release has already had numerous spins on BBC Radio 2 by Bob Harris - “Great track” - Gideon Coe and Paul Jones, and on BBC6 Music by Don Letts, as well as being playlisted on online station Radio 2XS.
The accompanying video blends film with the trademark animation of director Marc Hardman, whose video for Will’s first UK single, Love Bites (Andy Votel remix) was playlisted on MTV2.

BIOGRAPHY

That Will Tang has got the blues goes without question.

But that’s only a fraction of the story; which perhaps explains why both critics and audiences still fail to find a convenient pigeon-hole for him, despite a six-album career and an international reputation as a harmonica maestro.

The simple fact is Will Tang is a roots musician, and by continually exploring his unique personal roots, he continues to surprise and to defy categorisation.

In an era of wannabe-troubadours, Will Tang is the real thing. Born in Rochdale to British and Chinese parents, he was blessed with a broader world perspective from a young age, and throughout his youth, exposed to their classical music influences. “My dad used to play clarinet in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and my granddad on my mum’s side was a minister who played the church organ.”

As he grew up, Will absorbed the blues that pervade the working-class consciousness of Lancashire mill towns, and in true rebellious teen fashion, picked up the harmonica by hanging out with the musicians who would pass through the local blues festivals in Colne and Burnley. This turned out to be his passport to the world. “I’d discovered all the legends - Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Hendrix, Led Zep, Dylan - but I knew there was more waiting for me out there.”

Once he left school, he turned his back on a promising career as an engineer and headed for Hong Kong to explore the other side of his heritage. While not a place renowned for its music, Will discovered a late-night underground jazz and blues scene which threw himself right into.

He created quite a stir with a sound and style unheard of on the scene and his lucky break came when he was asked to play harmonica on a record that became a chart hit. This opened the door for him as a session musician; playing for Chinese film and pop stars such as Jackie Chan and Andy Lau, and even travelling around the region to play with artists such as Simon Le Bon.

He soon secured himself a record deal (making him the first blues harp player to be signed in Hong Kong) and released his first album – which included tracks with renowned guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. Will went from jamming in bars to playing 10,000-seater concert halls alongside local pop stars. He also gigged relentlessly with his own band throughout Asia. “I evolved hugely as a performer, learning new instruments and styles, and found my natural spontaneity and freedom of expression in improvisational music like jazz.”

After releasing four more albums, the harmonica maestro decided it was time to return home and explore the eclecticism and lack of musical boundaries that the UK offered. Bursting with a hugely expanded set of influences, Will quickly secured a deal with Zen Music, an ISP-sponsored record label, keen to use new media to reach out to new audiences. His next task was to find a creative partner who would enable him to announce his return with a bang.

This partner came in the form of veteran Manchester DJ and producer Andy Votel (Elbow, Badly Drawn Boy) who helped produce and remix his first UK single Love Bites. The release received great reviews and made playlists at XFM and Ministry of Sound, demonstrating his ability to cross genre boundaries and appeal equally to audiences young and old. The accompanying video was an animation by upcoming director Marc Hardman that could easily have come from Terry Gilliam himself, and was playlisted on MTV2.

Determined to build on this success, Will went back into the studio to record a new album. To add a new twist he recruited his old Hong Kong band mate, Patrick Murdoch (who had returned to the UK a few years earlier to work as a session player for artists such as Michael Jackson) and the rest of Murdoch’s new project, Big Linda, a hard rock outfit from London (recently signed to Sony-ATV). They relished the opportunity to put their alter-egos to work with Will to bring his eclectic roots-acoustic tracks to life. “I wanted to keep it sounding fresh so we recorded old-school, you know, mostly live, and even brought in some different instrumentation to give it a ‘world’ feel.”

These tracks went onto become his UK debut, Everything Changes, which was

Lyrics

The Other Side

Written By: Will Tang

THE OTHER SIDE

Trying so hard to get through
I’ve got a message, gotta get it to you
When I get through maybe you’ll see the light
Lay down your weapons and stop the fight…

Maybe it’s time for us all to move on
We’ve been fighting for far too long
Well it’s happened so many times before
Don’t you think it’s time close the door

Does it really matter, it’s only a name
Why don’t you take a closer look inside, we’re just the same
‘Cos the other side of the side you’re on
Is just as wide and just as long

I’m just a simple man with a simple way
I think we better all just go fishing
To pass the time of day
I got me a gun, I got me a knife
But I just wanna live my life

Music & lyrics copyright Zen Music 2008

Discography

UK releases
Apr 08 - The Other Side (single)
Nov 07 - Everything Changes (album)
Jun 06 - Love Bites - Andy Votel Remix (single)

Hong Kong catalogue pending UK release
2004 - The Other Side (album)
2003 - Out Of The Blue (album)
2002 - Xyan (album)

Set List

Given Will's sponteneity, the set varies but will typically include all or some of the following and the odd classic rock/blues cover thrown in for good measure:
- Everything Changes
- Troubles Down
- On My Way
- The Other Side
- Red City Blues
- Something Special
- Stories
- Love Bites
- Time of Day
- Drifting
- Travellin' Man