A Macau-born musician is back in the city after participating in a music talent show and joining gigs around the mainland, yet the singer is set to leave soon for more performances in China.
Ari Calangi is the only contestant who represented Macau in the Chinese reality talent show “Sing! China,” formerly called “The Voice of China,” that premiered in July on Zhejiang Television.
Before joining the competition, Ari was already a session musician, playing drums and guitar for different artists in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Born to a Filipino family in Macau, Ari speaks the four languages that are used in the region. His mother taught him guitar at the age of seven, later adding piano and drums to his repertoire.
The “Sing! China” participant just arrived in Macau this week after playing shows in China and a gig with Chinese diva Huang Qishan at the China Open 2016.
Ari told the Times that he barely spoke Mandarin when he first went to Shanghai for the pre-blind audition, but he claims to have learned the language in as little as a week as he was already fluent in Cantonese.
Back in 2011, the singer-musician received a scholarship and was supported by the local government to enhance his drumming skills in Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Ari admitted that he did not have plans to become a singer, however his experience in the United States opened his eyes to new adventures and previously undiscovered skills.
“When I went to the States, I wanted to be professional drummer […] but among such musicians I found my voice. When I started to sing, musicians were moved by it, even the audiences. My voice seems to be my strongest instrument,” he explained.
Ari characterized his experience in Boston as a “discovery of my music voice,” stressing that upon coming back to Macau, he had a “new direction, a new goal.”
Meanwhile, the singer-musician told the Times that it is tough for local artists to have a breakthrough in their music career, as there is no music market in Macau.
“There’s no market in Macau. Even though when people like to say there is a small market, there’s actually no market because Macau’s music scene has not yet penetrated China nor Taiwan or any other music scene. It [Macau] has not (e)merged into any,” he recalled.
Yet, Ari believes that hard work is the key for local artists to gain exposure in the music industry abroad, saying “they just have to do it smart.”
“There are talent[ed people] in Macau that work really hard but I believe not hard enough,” he said. “It was because when I went to the States, [I] saw a lot of passionate people then I got to see what hard work looks like. Coming back here to Macau, it’s too relaxed, there’s [low] competition where no singer really feels threaten[ed],” he explained.
The 26-year old singer also shared how the demand for local artists in the region has decreased, comparing 2005 through to 2010, local artists like him had three to four shows per month, compared to now where he only has one show every two to three months in Macau.
Although the artist was given offers to sign under companies in Macau and in the neighboring regions, he admitted that there are still no attractive offers from recording firms.
“I guess being in the music industry for four to five years, I’ve seen a lot of contracts to know what good deals look like,” he said.
Aside from being a solo artist, Ari leads a band called “Wat De Funk,” which officially started in May and consists of 11 musicians and singers.
Ari is currently working on his album that will hopefully be released this year, and is now involved with a few projects that involve his band.
Ari is set to perform in Hong Kong this October 22 and 23 with Hong Kong singer-songwriter Eman Lam in “People Like Us” concert, and will perform a collaborative show with Erik Hargrove and also in Yoyo Sham’s show on the 28th.
Aside from another gig in the neighboring region in November, he will also be in Taiwan for a musical festival called “Love Love Rock.”
He also revealed that he is slated to participate in upcoming gigs in Singapore and Thailand before the year ends.