Asian Beat: Taiwan Pop to Movie Soundtracks – Kenny Fan
Multi-nominated | Dual-recipient of Taiwan’s “Golden Melody Awards” shares mix insights
New Taipei City, Taiwan – Award-winning mix-engineer, Kenny Fan, has many decades industry experience under his belt, with knowledge and skills built from studying and working on both sides of the Pacific. Schooled in music and recording in the USA, he is a highly-respected and talented engineer in the Taiwan music industry. His work has been formally recognized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture through the Golden Melody Awards (GMA) – the Chinese equivalent of the US Grammy Awards. Taiwan’s music scene is powerful and vibrant, with Mandarin pop being a significant force – both indie and mainstream. And Kenny has been deeply immersed in this industry, as well as a proud Amphion ambassador. We also thank SonicLab Taiwan, our local distributor, for both supporting and interviewing Kenny.
Q1. Kenny Fan – Brief Bio: Where did you study ? Have you lived/worked abroad + if so, in which countries ? Who were your industry mentors ? Where did you get your “start” in the music/studio industry, and how long have you been in the studio-recording business ?
My family and I moved to the US when I was 14. During my high school years, I played in bands but found our recording results un-satisfactory. This drove my interest in music recording. I attended Grove’s School of Music and LA Recording Workshop’s recording courses during the late ’80s. After graduating, I worked at NRG Studio for about a year, then took the chance to work in Taiwan in 1989. I did’t have a particular mentor during my career, but I have had the honor to work with Bill Schnee a few times. By watching him work, I really learned how “less is more”.
Q2. Yohu Studio – Taipei: When did you establish your studio, and where is it based ? How did the studio get its name ? How would you describe your role – mix engineer or mix/mastering engineer ? Tell us about your control room set-up/treatment … What gear makes up your room – console, outboard gear, DAWs, monitoring etc.
After working in big studios and freelancing for 10+ years, I felt it was time for me to have my own studio. In 2008, I contacted WSDG to design my mix room. The result was a well-treated room with sound isolation that exceeded my expectations. Now I have a room that I am comfortable with, and I started to gain the confidence to mix entirely in-the-box. I slowly sold my outboard gear and invested in monitors. My current setup is Pro Tools + D-Control 32 and Amphions, of course !
Q3. Artists & Awards: As well as Taiwan, in what are countries are you actively recording and mixing for ? What are some of the music genres you work with ? Who are some of the major artists or bands or soundtrack projects you have worked on ? How successful have they been ? Have you received any special Awards (eg. Golden Melody?)
I’m currently based in Taiwan, and my main focus is mixing for Pop music. I also mix for movie scores and game audio. Taiwan’s music culture is very diverse, so we have to be ready to work with every genre. I’m fortunate to work with many top artists in Taiwan such as Wu Bai, A-Mei, Jolin Tsai, Crowd Lu, Oaeen, J. Sharon, and Nickthereal4sho. They all have achieved great success and have sold millions of records. I have also been nominated for the Golden Melody award for best pop music recording five times and received two awards.
Q4. Workflow & Approach: What’s your process when mixing or re-mixing ? How would you define your points-of-difference in approaching a recording task ? What gives your mixes their own sonic stamp/style ? What are some of the techniques you use ?
I don’t have a particular workflow or approach, as every song is different/unique. I just go with my feelings on that particular day. Sometimes I’ll use a template, and sometimes I’ll try new things. A good, rough mix is essential. It helps me understand what the producer wants and helps me to visualize the final product.
Q5. Amphion + Kenny: How long have you been using Amphion ? What models do you currently have and how are they set-up in your control room ? How’ve you found them re: mixing productivity (turnaround-time on projects) ?; performance characteristics (clarity, transparency, depth, detail) ?; no ear-fatigue on long-haul projects ? Other ?
I’ve been using Amphion since 2017. I first heard about it through the GearSpace Forum and decided to give it a try, then ended up keeping it. My current setup is a pair of Two18 and BaseOne25 System. What I like about these speakers is their clarity and quick overall response. They also have very accurate transient information with a punchy low end. Mixing with these monitors, I felt I could work longer and quieter, and the result is a well-translated mix on all playback systems.
Q6. Are there any other concepts or information you would like to share ? eg. insights into the Asian Music Industry – particularly across China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong ? State of the recording industry during the pandemic ? Up-and-going projects you are working on ? Recommended YouTubes of artists you have worked on ?
In the Asian Music Industry, especially In Mandarin Pop, the vocal and the lyrics are extremely important. A “big vocal” is always preferred no matter what. With this “big vocal,” we also need to pay special attention to vocal “sibilance” since they are more pronounced in Mandarin. I currently have many requests to mix in Atmos format and am looking forward to getting a full-blown Atmos setup with Amphion in the near future !
For more information about Taiwan Distributor – SonicLab: 網站改版中 (soniclab.com.tw)
For more information about Amphion Two18 & Base systems
For more information about Golden Melody Awards: https://tinyurl.com/GoldenMelodyAwardsWiki