From Nanguaq to Solo Grace: Interview with The Evolving Indigenous Artists Makav


Makav (真愛), alongside her fellow Nanguaq girl group (那屋瓦少女隊) members Kiwi and Mani, burst onto the scene at the tender age of 18 with her contribution to the 'N1: Nanguaq No. 1' compilation, "Embiyax Su Hug." Fast forward two years, and she's back, this time with her debut solo album "Treasure," co-produced by the Abao (阿爆) and Shao-Yung Huang (黃少雍).


One of Makav's standout features is her trilingual songwriting, effortlessly blending Bunun, Mandarin, and English. Although her repertoire leans towards gospel and spiritual themes, her music explores an impressive array of musical genres, all delivered with the poise and self-assuredness of a seasoned pro.

Makav's deep-rooted Christian faith is a guiding force in her life, influenced by her family and the spiritual songs of her church. As she aptly puts it, "Faith is an unwavering cornerstone, and God's love is too overflowing to be replaced by anything in this world."


The majority of the tracks on "Treasure" were composed during her final year of high school, showcasing her prodigious songwriting talent and gift for crafting enchanting melodies. While faith is a recurring theme, Makav's lyrics move beyond mere clichés, conveying genuine praise and reverence.

Diving into "Treasure," you'll discover an eclectic blend of sounds that transcend time, culture, and location. ‘Madaidaz愛’ marries classical hymns with electronic reverberations, intertwined with elements of Black gospel and the rhythms of the Bunun language. Tracks like ‘Let Me Know Your Heart’ and ‘我做了快樂的夢’ channel the finesse and catchiness reminiscent of Chance the Rapper while contemplating life and faith.

‘Tantitini 一個人’ evokes the retro charm of 2000s R&B girl groups, while ‘Mavaivi 不一樣’ boldly fuses country and electronic beats, delivering a unique fusion akin to a musical Hillsong creation. Among the album's gems, ‘You Are Not Alone’ shines the brightest. When life gets turbulent, Makav finds solace in her faith, and her music serves as a comforting reminder that we're never alone on the rollercoaster of life.

We couldn't conduct the video interview as scheduled due to a typhoon that disrupted the internet connection in her hometown. However, Makav came through with her answers in audio files. Her vibrant and cheerful tone, along with her spontaneous laughter is infectious. This has given her responses a unique sound effect. We hope all our readers can almost hear her giggles through the following interview and truly feel her contagious joy.



Q1. In Taiwan, religion isn't typically the go-to theme for most pop singers. How did you land on the idea of infusing faith into your debut album, 'Treasure,' especially given that Christianity isn't the dominant faith here, and artists often explore religious themes only after establishing themselves?

Oh, it wasn't so much about convincing anyone. I just went with the flow of my life. You see, faith is a big part of who I am, so it naturally found its way into many of my songs. I didn't exactly slap the "gospel album" label on it. Let's call it more of a "fashion gospel" album.


Q2. 'Treasure' is quite the musical rollercoaster, featuring many styles and emotions. Were those creative decisions the product of brainstorming sessions with producers Shao Yong Huang and Abao? And, with you leading the charge on most of the arrangements, were there any amusing showdowns or interesting moments in your collaboration with these two?

Oh, it was a bit like a musical potluck dinner with Shao-Yung Huang and Abao. They dished out some fantastic ideas. My job was to bring my musical ingredients to the table, and together, we cooked up something magical. 

They've been my biggest cheerleaders, and the verdict has been a resounding 'Awesome! This works!' So far, none of my wild ideas have been shut down. The whole collaboration has been smoother than a fresh jar of peanut butter.


Q3. In most churches in Taiwan, they stick to the classics—hymns and Christian rock. But your album incorporates some spicy elements from Black gospel and cleverly throws in some call-and-response. Is this style more prevalent in Indigenous churches, and did the rich history of non-white musical forms offer you some grand inspiration?

My own church leans a tad more traditional, with classic hymns and harmonies. You might say we play it safe. But, fun fact, my childhood jam was Justin Bieber, who happens to be as white as vanilla ice cream! As I grew older, I discovered the magic of Indigenous music, and the rest is history.



Q4. Making music in Indigenous languages and giving ancient melodies a fresh spin seems to be the trend in Taiwan's music scene. But you're already surfing that wave with style at your tender age. What's your take on this cultural revival, and what's your vision for it?

As far as being the "leader of a cultural revival" goes, that's like, majorly ambitious! But seriously, I just want to use my music and cultural roots to document my own life. It's less about leading a parade and more about sharing my own experiences.


Q5. You're this amazing combination of rapper and singer. Could you hit us up with some gospel singers or rap artists who have lit up your creative circuits?

Well, the person who fired up my creative engine was none other than Justin Bieber! He was the one who tossed open the doors to the whole music world for me. Thanks, Biebs!


Q6. Looking ahead, is there a dream team of musicians you'd love to team up with, or perhaps a genre you're itching to explore?

A dream team? Definitely Justin Bieber! I mean, who wouldn't want to vibe with him? As for genres, I'm like a musical chameleon. I'm up for some international musical adventures."