Happy, happy, happy

Hanjin chats about cheetahs, his personal style and rhythmic Capetonian jazz

Cantonese jazz popstar, Hanjin, is wearing a white bow-tie, a red shirt and a big happy grin when I meet him. He was here to perform for the International Cape Town Jazz Festival.

Is this your first time in South Africa?
No this is my second time. The first time was to shoot a music video (Impossible) with a cheetah named Sheeba.

Did you get along?
Ah, I loved her. She’s just like a woman should be; beautiful, fierce and dangerous.

Did you get to see any attractions on your last trip?
Well, I went to Cape Point, but it was a bit misty that day...We did go see the penguins and the coast, but what I really want to do this time is to try some real bunny chow, and a Gatsby!

What South African artists would you be keen to collaborate with?
Honestly, I’m quite ignorant about South African music. But I’m very keen to collaborate. I like smooth, soulful African sounds.

Videos: Hanjin and Sheeba in Impossible and cover of 'Fly Me to the Moon'

 

How is your style different to that of Cantonese pop music?
My personal style is quite different in general to the Cantonese culture. And yes definitely my music. It’s not mainstream at all. I think it has to do with the fact that I grew up in Singapore.

Have you always been interested in jazz?
Yes!  Jazz is the scariest form of music in my opinion. By that I mean its unpredictability, its rawness. I first got into jazz, because the intensity of running a record label was beginning to get to me. And, jazz, well, with jazz there wasn’t the same amount of pressure for it to do well, nobody expected it to sell in the first place.  Plus, I’ve always been really into the simple, standard jazz tunes, and how I could expound on them.

Highlights so far?
The free concert at Green Market Square last night was amazing. The 3000 people there felt like 8000. The crowd was so warm, so happening.

Your videos are beautifully shot, quite romantic, what is the inspiration for them?
Every video, every shoot, is a moment in time. And I try to capture that.

So you’re quite the romantic guy then?
Absolutely! Thank you (grinning).

What or who inspires you on a day-to-day level?
The people around me, the people who love me, the people who I love. Every day is inspiring. And musically; all the greats! Sinatra, U2, Bjork...

What do you think of Capetonian jazz music?
It’s a fusion of so many sounds. I find it modern, rhythmic. The people are more than ready to bounce. But that’s an African thing in general though, isn’t it? People want to dance!

Describe yourself in three words?
Happy, happy, happy.

By Malu Lambert

Look out for Hanjin's debut album, Raw Jazz.

Visit our music section for more pithy interviews and insights. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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