I had the opportunity to interview Jesse Edbrooke from the UK rock band Transition 前進樂團. Their band members can all speak Mandarin fluently, and they sing in both Mandarin and English. I’ve been very impressed with Jesse and his band members over how immersed they have become in the Chinese culture. Be sure to check out their music at: www.transition.tk
Which country did you live in?
I lived in Taiwan for 3 years! I still go there at least twice a year.
Anything fun you recommend to do there?
So many things! I loved going surfing, because the sea was so warm and the coast wasn’t far away from Taipei city where I was living. But Taiwan has so much good food to eat, so it is really worth eating out and trying all the classics such as traditional dumplings, beef noodles, hotpot and bubble tea (as Taiwan is where it originates)! For me though, the reason I go back is because of the good friendships that I have there.
Do you have any good stories or interesting experiences from your time there?
Yes, I work in music and have been fortunate enough to have so many amazing experiences. I had the opportunity to perform music all around Taiwan in some of the most beautiful locations such as Hualien’s Taroko Gorge and unexpected places like an underground cafe in Kaohsiung and also the Taipei Arena! In fact I played at the arena just a couple of months ago, helping a friend who had won a golden melody award for best Hakka singer!
Did going there change your perspective on life in any way?
In so many ways! I appreciated the way in which there is a lot of respect in Taiwanese culture and I also found that it was a friendly culture too. If I was lost on the street, people would approach me and ask if they could help me. As a foreigner I found myself feeling welcome in the country and that’s really special! Its made me try to be more welcoming to others when I am back at home in the UK.
For others traveling or moving overseas, any tips to give them?
Take some ‘good’ risks! For me that meant trying foods that I had never tried before, going with friends to visit places that took me out of my comfort zone and for the large part I really loved it. I ended up growing so much as a person and it opened up lots of doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined.
I enjoy helping people find their passion in life. For someone not sure what area they want to work in or what they are passionate about, any advice you would give them?
Receiving encouragement along the way at key times can be very helpful as you pursue your dreams and passions in life. So for instance we had a guitar sponsor who gave us guitars when we arrived in Taiwan in 2009. It was a real gesture of support and gave us a real boost at a time when we could have felt quite isolated. I wrote one song which summed up many of my experiences of stepping out in Taiwan and finding that not giving in to my trepidation was the right choice! Its called Jin Tian Wanshang 今天晚上 and it simply means tonight I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I would like to encourage you with this song. Enjoy!
Awesome! Thank you for your time and encouragement, Jesse!
P.S. I (Bjorn) also wanted to include one of Transition’s most popular songs that went viral a few years ago. This song, Dui Bu Qi, is now being used to teach students Mandarin at language schools around the world. Check it out!