Mad About Shanghai caught up with John Huie for a quick email interview.
Heres a bit of background about John:
Born in Sydney Australia, Johns’ first major work at the age of sixteen was The Eclectic Mass, performed for ‘The Millennium Of Masses’ concert at the Sydney Town Hall.
After graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium High School, where he won an Arts Council composers scholarship along with Carl Vine, John began writing and producing works commissioned by such bodies as; The Sydney Choral Society, The Australian Flim Commission,
The Australia Council and the ABC as well as film scores for numerous Australian commercial directors. He also composed and performed works for a variety of ensembles including ‘The Posh’, a chamber ensemble which toured extensively for Musica Viva.
On moving to Hong Kong in 1991, he scored the music for two, world release feature films by Golden Harvest, three short films for the Hong Kong Tourist Association and a string of documentaries for various Asian film companies as well as lecturing for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hong Kong Arts Centre, on music for film.
Commissioned by the HKSAR (Hong Kong Government) in 1997, John composed and produced ‘The Honourable Retreat’, a musical tribute to the handover of Hong Kong to China, the concert and CD featured some of the finest Chinese instrumentalists in the territory.
Moving to Shanghai in 2002, he spent three years researching, and reproducing the authentic songs and style of Shanghai in the 1930’s. The result became the albums “Shanghai Jazz” 1 and 2 and were recently released by EMI. Expanding on the concept, Huie then continued to write for small ensembles using a combination of traditional European and Chinese instruments, this resulted in the release of ‘New Shanghai’, also with EMI. This featured the suite in four movements, “1421”, inspired by the 15th century eunuch admiral, Zheng He and the voyages of the Chinese treasure fleet
During this time, Huie wrote for a variety of chamber groups and films including the “The White Countess” for the legendary New York based film duo Merchant, Ivory.
In the last two years John has been working and living between Shanghai and Sydney and has produced two string quartets, three piano trios and ‘The New China Concerto’ for the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra with two traditional Chinese instruments.
John Huie plans to settle back in Australia by 2009 where he hopes to write for more Australian orchestras and ensembles and is currently working on an arts festival project.
MAS: Hi John, you studied at the Australian Conservatorium of Music, stayed in Hong Kong for more than 10 years and then now in Shanghai. Can you tell us what brought you to Asia and this part of the world?
John : By the end of the eighties I felt the need for fresh blood, a new environment and another angle to my life and career. Australia is a large island with a small population and perhaps over influenced by its’ big brothers, the UK and US. I wanted to venture into the unknown and absorb new culture.
MAS: Who or what has influenced you as a music producer?
John : The Beatles, Frank Zappa, J.S. Bach, Debussy, Ravel and Earl Scruggs.
MAS: Tell us what is the best part of being a music producer?
John : I enjoy composing more than producing music in the studio, but both are very satisfying after listening to the final result, that’s the best part.
MAS: How did your interest in Shanghai Jazz come about?
MAS: In 1992 while I was living in Hong Kong, I heard a track called; It’s not too late, a 1940s Shanghai movie song. It was very black and blue and particularly sleazy. This was the real Shanghai Jazz.
MAS: What is your inspiration behind the 3 series of Shanghai Jazz, New Shanghai Ensemble and Shanghai Jazz 2 ? Which one, do you think, is the most challenging to produce?
John : Without doubt, New Shanghai was the most challenging because this was a modern work
with a large amount of experimentation, trial and error. The Shanghai Jazz albums were
basically pop music of the 30s and 40s infused with a little bebop.
MAS: Who is the one musician that you would really want to work with but haven’t got the chance yet?
John : Pianist Chic Corea
MAS: Whats playing on your iPOD now?
John : Iva Cutler, an oblique music philosopher. It’s bizzar..
MAS: Compare with say Australia or Hong Kong, how would you rate Shanghai as a city for music production ?
John : Exciting and vibrant.
MAS: Tell us about your current projects and what can we see upcoming?
John : New Shanghai Volume 2 will be released in China about this time, in Australia as well. Unlike volume 1, this will include many more Australian musicians.
It will showcase a blend of excellence in Chinese and local talent in the fields of contemporary art and small ensemble music.
MAS: Last but not least, any advices for aspiring music producer out there?
John : If you believe in the idea, no matter what people say about it, even if there is no money in it,
go for it.
MAS: Thank you