Change is inevitable in order to progress, says Malaysian singer Peace Teo, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Mandopop singer from Johor recently dropped his very first English language single, Change, right in the middle of global coronavirus outbreak.
“Many people want to change the world, but few start by changing themselves. That’s why I wrote Change to remind myself and hopefully inspire others to adopt a different perspective in the way we approach the challenges that we face in our daily lives, ” he says of the English song which will be included in his upcoming album.
“This is especially so now with the Covid-19 coronavirus posing such a great challenge and bringing with it an uncertain future. While we may not be able to change a global crisis, what we can do is change ourselves – how we think, how we socialise, how we reinvent ourselves during the movement control order (MCO), and how ready we are to adapt to a different future.”
Teo revealed that he was inspired by one of his favourite songs when he composed the melody and penned the lyrics for Change.
“I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson, and one of my favourite songs of MJ’s is Man In The Mirror, and there’s this line in the lyrics that goes, ‘If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.’
“There’s magic in this song! It got me thinking about how easy it is to just keep on complaining about everything, yet that doesn’t help at all in improving our lives.
“Instead, if we make a change, either mentally or physically, bit by bit every single day, that will go a long way to help improve our lives, our community, our environment, and our society.”
Change, being his English debut single, marks another milestone in Teo’s showbiz career. He had started off as a Mandopop singer after winning a Chinese singing competition in 2015.
“I’ve been doing Chinese pop music since I started showbiz. I think it’s time for me to make a change and explore my options. Another reason for this is that I want to reach out to a different community. That’s why I stepped out of my comfort zone to try to make a difference.”
In fact, Teo said that he is enjoying the process of writing and singing English songs.
“I think that every language is a window to its culture, ” said the 32-year-old singer-songwriter who has also composed songs for others, including English gospel songs for his church members, Mandarin songs for his fellow Malaysian singers Meeia Foo Chyong In and Lim Tiong Kim, as well as a Cantonese song for Hong Kong singer-actor Kelvin Kwan.
Currently based in Taipei, Taiwan, the tenacious fellow admitted that it has been a “tough yet beautiful journey” for him. He moved to Taiwan to further his musical career in 2017.
Since Taiwan has a very lively variety talk show culture, Teo has been getting ample opportunities to promote his music on TV shows over there.
One of the talk shows, Half And Half, recently invited dozens of Mandarin-speaking foreigners from all over the world to discuss diverse cultural practices in different countries. Teo, one of the guests on the show, said it was an entertaining way to introduce Malaysia’s multicultural diversity to Taiwanese audiences.
Meanwhile, promotional activities during the pandemic was a brand new experience for him.
“It’s such a huge difference! We used to conduct press conferences, and make guest appearances on radio stations, TV stations or arrange meet-the-fans sessions back then.
“But for now, I get everything done in Taipei via the Internet. I even went on national TV in Malaysia from Taipei just by video-calling with my laptop in my living room!
“Technology makes almost everything possible nowadays, especially during MCO! This experience gives me a better idea of how the entertainment industry is going to be like in the future.”
Though his current base is Taiwan, Teo disclosed that most of the songs in his upcoming Mandarin album were made in Malaysia by Malaysians.
For Teo, who enjoys every bit of the music-making process, inspiration for a new song can come anytime from anywhere, even during a “20-minute stroll down the street.”
But, his favourite stage in making music is working with his 28-year-old producer/arranger, Aaron Jiam.
Singing praises of the talented musician, Teo gushed: “He puts the magic in my songwriting! Every time he sends me back an updated version of my recording, it feels like he has uplifted it to another level!
“My producer and I have been working on writing and producing my full-length album for the past three years. We communicate and make changes via voice calls.
“I flew back to KL on and off for the recording. All the songs I wrote are based on my own personal experiences in life. This album features pop, R&B, rock, all my favourite genres.”
With 14-day challenges being all the rage now, Teo has been doing his fair share of challenges too.
He did a 14-day fitness challenge to promote his English single Change in April and a 14-day diary challenge to unveil a physically-demanding parkour-themed music video for his Mandarin single Fang Qi Zhi Qian (Before Giving Up) in May.
“I’ve been working out for quite some time. I did a #ChangeChallenge for 14 days because I wanted to see the best version of myself. And now, I’m really happy with my shape and stamina and I feel good about it, ” said Teo, adding that he hopes to motivate his fans to be better and healthier individuals during and after the MCO.
“I have a personal trainer to train with me, so he guided me on some basic home workout routine that we can do on the floor, with a sofa, a dining table and so on. I would say the most interesting one is the #Handstand challenge kickstarted by Tom Holland because it’s really entertaining and intense!” (Holland’s challenge involved wearing a T-shirt while in a handstand position.)
Following his latest release, it is apparent that Teo’s fitness goals go hand-in-hand with his music aspirations.
He let on that the next big thing on his official YouTube channel would be an online fitness TV series titled About Peace (Guan Wo Peace in Mandarin).
“I’m really excited about this! I was a basketball player and track and field long-distance runner in high school. After that, it became more like a casual thing for me.”
An outdoor fitness buff, Teo said he turned into an avid gym goer in 2018. “I work out around three to six sessions in a week, roughly 90 minutes every session. I remind myself by scheduling it on my calendar and see it as part of my career and my life too! I work out with my trainer, usually in the afternoon.”
If that sounds like a lot of work on top of his songwriting, it’s because Teo is trying to get to his weight goal of 66kg and working hard to get certified as a fitness trainer within the next three years.
And, he is doing all that while putting the finishing touches to his full-length Chinese album which is scheduled for release later this year.
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