◎Has the internet affected live houses in any way? How do you leverage these forms of media?
Tung: Performance publicity is now conducted online since we can reach our intended audience and incur lower expenses. But with such a large amount of information on the net, reaching the right group of people who will go to live houses, remains an endeavor which requires us to manage our website and build a supportive community in the long term.
◎This year marks PIPE Live Music's fourth anniversary. What are your most memorable experiences here?
Tung: My most memorable experience happened just after I took over PIPE. I was so busy that I often slept at the site, and since it was formerly a pumping station situated right by the river, the rise in water level after a typhoon would often wash ashore snakes, frogs, turtles and fishes, which I had to catch. Now that was an unforgettable memory.
◎You do music festivals as well. Are there any differences between managing live houses and organizing music festivals? Is your experience with live houses helpful when it comes to organizing music festivals?
Tung: Taiwan has many music festivals and everyone is competing to get a better performer line-up. But Taiwan's music scene is gradually moving away from the idol-chase market. We also need the kind of program quality that overseas music festivals have. We need themes that can attract specific audiences to participate. This is in fact similar to managing live houses as we are not going for mass appeal. We want to draw in specific groups, and music festivals involving electronic music are gaining popularity in Taiwan, so there is some potential here.
◎We have experienced the golden age for records and are now seeing its decline. What are your thoughts on this industry? Can it synergize with live houses?
Tung: With respect to PIPE, we do offer live recording services. This place provides a very special auditory experience and many listeners love it it. There is still a market for Live concert CDs and DVDs. In the future, we could carry out simultaneous recording and shooting for underground bands performing at the live house. This will reduce costs and possibly help expand online sales.
◎Let's discuss the future of PIPE Music Live. Will you expand it?
Tung: PIPE is a historical site and former pumping station. We won't be making any changes to preserve the site. The venue capacity of roughly 300 people will not be raised, this means that we won't be looking to develop primarily through mainstream music. Electronic music is the future growth driver for PIPE, I hope that it can become the cradle of electronic music in Taiwan. We will bring in more foreign artists from diversified backgrounds to perform here and conduct more exchanges. Once we formulate a more market-based commercial model, we will be able to perform at a bigger performance venue. But this place will serve as a cradle for music creation, a home base, and we hope that more experimental music will start to sprout from here.
◎What kind of music-related goals and ideals do you have?
Tung: Aside from the live house, I'm also hoping to produce analog recording and analog records (vinyl). This may sound a little idealistic, so we have to work on creative music that can attract collectors. A revival in this area would provide a good environment for Taiwanese talents to grow. With digitalization, consumers are getting accustomed to low-quality, "fast-food" music. This is detrimental to the growth of Taiwan's pop music industry, hence we should never give up on the production of analog-based music.
◎Could Luantan be resurrected?
Tung: Like I've said before, Luan Dan isn't coming back, so there is no way for it to be resurrected. But I still work and perform with A Xiang. Regardless of what we are doing now or in the future, we will, as musicians, continue to work hard and learn. To remain in the music industry, you need to engineer breakthroughs and learn. Absorbing lessons is one of the elements of progress, this is something easily forgotten yet absolutely crucial.
The environment has changed, digitalization is now the norm and some things are never going to return. If I were to write this article with pen and paper, I'm sure my editor wouldn't approve. But it is still important that we stay true to our original goals and not get lost. Persisting in doing what he loves while creating something new, using what we have now to revitalize things of old, providing opportunities to those catching up, these are the qualities about Tung that I admire the most.
Everything begins with a spark, but persisting in one's goal is what makes it difficult. The four years weren't a cakewalk, yet seeing Tung's efforts to continue his passion in music, as well as his willingness to accept all forms of music, I truly hope that PIPE Live Music will become a heavyweight and attraction in Taiwan's music scene. When people speak of Taiwan as a music paradise in the future, I hope that PIPE will be one of its foundations.
To dream is beautiful, but what is most precious is the persistence to hold onto that dream.