Terry and I first met in Singapore when he was Terence Leong and heading up a young local hip hop group called Urban XChange. I was Executive Director with the Regional Office of Universal Music Asia based in Hong Kong at the time. I had heard the group’s demos through Terry’s aunt, who was then head of Human Resources at Universal.
I met Terry and the rest of the group over lunch. There was a press conference setup later that day to announce that Urban XChange were to sign with EMI Music Asia.
To cut a long story short, I used my skills of persuasion and nixed this deal. Urban XChange signed to Universal. Later, when becoming Executive Director of EMI Music Asia, Urban XChange had morphed into Parking Lot Pimp. This helped sign them up to EMI as a “new” act.
Driving both groups was Terry. He was a very talented kid and passionate about music. He could write, rap, produce, arrange and was ahead of the curve. At EMI, he remixed tracks for me by Bowie, Kylie and a number of other international artists. Parking Lot Pimp soon imploded but not before producing a brilliant record titled “Welcome To Our Frequency”.
The record was heavily influenced after Terry and I traveled to Tokyo and where I had him meet and interview Pharrell Williams and Shay from N.E.R.D.
Pharrell was a loopy interviewee in that he was such a game changing entrepreneur and very involved in fashion and the Bathing Ape brand. Still, this meeting and me giving Terry a wine fuelled overnight education on the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s record resulted in an amazing original by Terry titled “Blow”. It was psychodelic Hip Hop. It’s a track that has lost none of its originality.
The band went through a pretty surreal period, Terry kinda disappeared before re-emerging in Taiwan writing and producing for a number of Hip Hop acts in that country- artists who were radically different to the bland Canto Pop coming out of Hong Kong.
Terry was now Terry Lee and the most in-demand producer in Taiwan. Tired of being used by music companies and their often very deviously political and cunning music execs, he finally broke free and is now in control of his own destiny.
He’s got nothing to prove except challenging and competing with himself and mapping out the future of his business and career of his artists. This includes the very very talented and popular young artist Julia Wu whom I remember originally seeing as a contestant in Australia’s Got Talent. She was living in Brisbane at the time recording covers for her YouTube channel.
Terry is a game changer. He’s Chinese, but he’s global. He makes music with no boundaries.
During our chat, it was obvious that Terry has embraced technology. He had done his homework and made the time to understand the business of music and understand how music fans are constantly evolving.
He’s learning the ways in which THEY use the online world. And how to cater to THEIR needs.
He’s learned how to navigate one’s way through the clutter in order to offer sustenance by introducing them to the music that inspired him AND the back catalogues waiting to be rediscovered.
In many ways, it’s Terry taking and making what’s old new again and then even newer. It’s there in everything Julia Wu does.
Many in Hong Kong who pass themselves off as being in the music business should wake up. They don’t hold a candle to Terry Lee when it comes to the creativity of music and how its future might look like. Again, he’s way ahead of the curve and a very experienced 42.
Would I like to work with Terry again? Definitely. He’s what he is and he gets IT. He’s no flunky or wannabe or someone trying to fit into something meaningless and wasting time being where he doesn’t belong.
We could have easily talked into the night about the future, present and past of the business of bringing value and respect and more relevance music.
Maybe this will lead to a Terry/Hans podcast? Who knows?
What I do know is that this conversation with Terry made me see how much farther down the road Taiwan is when it comes to music.
It makes me realise why so much the music from Taipei etc makes so much of what I hear from this region, especially Hong Kong, sound completely irrelevant and way off the mark.
What I keep hearing are things, that at least to me, are not only way off the mark and very old school and “old cool” with those involved in releasing this fluff and puff unable to see where they’re going.
Being lost in one’s own delusions of the fame game and clinging to this with nothing to show for all the online posturing is the worst enemy to creativity in music.