Matzka touches the hearts of listeners with aboriginal music

Updated: 2013-03-15 07:48

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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 Matzka touches the hearts of listeners with aboriginal music

Taiwan's Matzka brings a fresh sound to his mainland audience. Zou Hong / China Daily

With his shoulder-length dreadlocks and sunglasses, Matzka looks like a rock star. But the 28-year-old singer-songwriter, who grew up in Taitung county, Taiwan, insists that his main musical influence came from his Paiwan tribe's ancestry and his mission is to spread the aboriginal music.

His band members include drummer Atuhuy, guitarist Sakinu and bassist Alisin from the Paiwan and Puyuma Taiwan aboriginal tribes.

Matzka says they are ready to showcase their combination of the traditional tribal music of their hometown with the contemporary reggae and rock to audiences in Beijing and Shanghai during the fifth Jue Music and Art Festival, an annual arts and music festival in the two cities.

"I hope our music offers something fresh to the audience there," he says.

Indeed, the singer-songwriter's fresh perspective has won him popularity in Taiwan, where mainstream music is dominated by pop singers.

When he heard his music played in shopping areas and dance halls, he was proud of his contribution toward aboriginal music.

"Young people from aboriginal tribes in Taiwan consider it out-of-date and boring to sing in their own native language. But I like the language," he says. "I grew up with it, and it's beautiful to me."

Even when he sings in Mandarin, he likes adding aboriginal accent, which has become his trademark.

From his songs, listeners can feel his love for the aborigines. For example, in his song Handsome Boy from Taitung, he laments about how young people from aboriginal tribes, who are pursuing their dreams in Taipei, have forgotten their origins.

"People from aboriginal tribes usually have darker skin. But many young people cover their skin or try to make their skin whiter," he says.

Matzka touches the hearts of listeners with aboriginal music

"It's sad. I want to use my music to tell them that aboriginal music is cool and our own culture is cool."

Matzka says he grew up listening to people singing every day, amid sunshine and barbecue. So, it's natural for him to pick up his guitar and compose songs.

Although his fans and record company describe his music as Taiwan aboriginal reggae, Matzka thinks otherwise. "For me, it's just a strategy by the record company to raise eyebrows or make money," he says.

As he becomes more famous, Matzka says he feels a greater sense of responsibility.

"There are many young people in our tribe who create music. I want to be their good role model. I don't want them to simply follow the trend. They should have their own voices," he says.

Matzka's dream is to record an album of songs in his mother tongue.

"Understanding the lyrics is not the most important thing for me. What means more to me is touching the hearts of listeners with my songs," he adds.

(China Daily 03/15/2013 page20)