In the year 2000, Taiwanese musician Lim Giong composed the music for Hsiao Hsien Hou’s now cult-classic film, Millennium Mambo. His song, A Pure Person has gained a cult following of its own, played by thousands across the globe and enciting a sense of nostalgia for a place not every person listening has been.
20 years later, album producer and A&R Angela Lin collaborated with Lim Giong to enlist five artists (Alex Zhang Hungtai, Jieh, Point, Yuying Hsu, Non-Confined Space) to reinterpret what it means today with a new album collaboration, alongside a release of a new song by Giong himself, named “Recite.”
Here, Angela Lin interviews Giong for FAR–NEAR about what it means to be a pure person in an increasingly polarized world.
Angela Lin In 2020, what does ordinary, peace, pure person mean to you?
Lim Giong Fulfill your duties as much as possible without overdoing it, reduce your ego, don’t be too greedy and do good deeds.
Angela Why did you agree to do this project? How does it feel to have other artists re-interpreting the track?
Lim It happened naturally, just like how the album, “A Pure Person,” was produced. It wasn’t planned. In recent years, making a music album or compilation wasn’t on my mind. It was only on August 1, 2017, when I received an email from California sent by Angela Lin, that the album began… Angela, my work partner, found musicians to reinterpret the song and I chose the pieces I liked. Apart from Point, I didn’t know and haven’t met any of the artists.
Angela How does this new song “Recite” connect to the original “A Pure Person” track?
Lim The song “A Pure Person” was about my emotional mindset at the time it was composed. Similarly, “Recite” also reflects my current self. Since the theme of the album relates to what I created 20 years ago, the songs start off as a continuation of where I was 20 years ago. It gradually develops and the chants of “Heart Sutra” at the end reflect my current state of mind.
Angela What were your different states of mind or different processes when writing “A Pure Person” vs “Recite”?
Lim “A Pure Person” was written in 2000, when I had just established my studio in Taipei. Three people were involved with the composition, and the mixdown was completed by another mixer. At that time, I was still mentally exploring the process. “Recite” was recorded in my studio in Taichung and I created it alone, from beginning to end. Originally a friend was helping with the mix, but in the end I chose to go with my own version. I had a relatively clear state of mind when I wrote this song.
No matter how complicated the world is, how heavy the heart is, how tempted by fame and fortune you are, and even if you feel as though you’ve been defiled and corrupted, remind yourself to be a pure person and improve your spirituality and conscience.
Angela How have you changed as an artist between this release of “A Pure Person” and “Recite” ?
Lim “A Pure Person” is more purposeful, while “Recite” is more casual.
Angela Why did you choose to sing in traditional Taiwanese opera style for the song?
Lim I am always thinking about where I come from, where I will go in the future, the significance of my cultural heritage and environmental factors and how I can communicate with others while maintaining my independence in this globalized world.
Angela What mood or philosophy did you want to express with the original “A Pure Person” ?
Lim No matter how complicated the world is, how heavy the heart is, how tempted by fame and fortune you are, and even if you feel as though you’ve been defiled and corrupted, remind yourself to be a pure person and improve your spirituality and conscience.
Angela What do you think about spreading Taiwanese culture or music to the rest of the world?
Lim I don’t have such ambitions. Musical works have their own vitality and that is mostly beyond my control. Each piece has its own fate. All I can do is try my best and go with the flow.