When Courtney Wing arrives in Beijing a few weeks from now, he plans to dedicate his free time (Wing will be performing at both BLF and JUE) to a very important project. Wing will pit the wok-masters of his native Vancouver against those of our fine city and lend his taste buds to answering that gnarly question: Who’s better at Chinese food?
But before he gets here, the musician took some time off from ““trekking through the mountainous region of Sa Pa Vietnam” – presumably with mini ukelele in tow – to answer a few questions for BLF.
You can see Wing live March 17.
Mengfei Chen: Does your multicultural background influence your music? If so, how?
Courtney Wing: Perhaps it does, in the sense that I was raised with two very different cultural backgrounds – my father being Chinese and my mother being Russian and Icelandic. On my father’s side, we always had large gatherings in which extended family members would get together and eat and just work together on many levels. My mother’s side of the family was less family oriented. [It was] was more of a Canadian type of upbringing, only stories of family tribulation attached to my ancestors’ Russian history were often reviewed. And traditional Icelandic cakes appeared annually at festive events. So in large, I think having both backgrounds perhaps provided for a worldly perspective that may now trickle into my work.
MC: If you were going to be marooned on a desert island and had to choose one record to listen to, what would it be? Why?
CW: Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.” This record is phenomenal because it carries so much soul with it, and spontaneity and Van Morrison’s singing is absolutely phenomenal. It runs with me deeply.
MC: You’ve collaborated with many artists. Do you have a favorite? Why?
CW: No, I don’t have a favorite artist I’ve worked with, each artist always has something different to offer from the next, whether is precision playing or sloppy interesting rhythms, there’s always something that works from each person. And generally, if they can play a few notes, but are kind and good spirited, then I’m down with working with them.
MC: What are you most excited about doing in China?
CW: Eating…haha, I truly can’t wait to feast on some fine cuisine. People have argued that my hometown Vancouver has the best Chinese food in the world. So I’ll be putting it to the test as much as possible.
MC: What’s on your playlist right now?
CW: Bon Iver’s new record, Daniel Lanois “Shine” and the Gotye song “Now You’re Just Somebody That I Used to Know” – it’s a great tune and that chap is a good songwriter.
MC: What are you working on next?
CW: Quite a few projects are on the go. I’m producing and composing for a children’s book app, composing for a dance project with dancers from Ballet Jazz de Montreal and I’m writing a lot on a small ukulele that I’ve been traveling around with in South East Asia.