Passiwali performing at a
Passiwali performing at Kafka,
next to the beach.
Lead singer Chalaw
Album name: "Chalaw Passiwali"
"Twenty years ago, there was a day when I suddenly decided to set aside work matters and go back to my hometown in Hualien. The beautiful garden that existed in my memory was nowhere to be seen. The wonderful tribe I once lived among became a fleeting dream. Now, I can only use my imagination to picture what it was like in the old days." These sentimentalities are written on the lyrics sleeve of Chalaw Passiwali's self-titled new album.
"Chalaw Passiwali" speaks for a lot of young people who have been away from home for years and then return after a long journey or living away for quite a long time. The feeling of disillusionment with an idyllic, out-of-reach childhood speaks to almost everyone who's ever returned to find things, as they do, have changed. Personally, these feelings reminded me of the lyrics to the popular song "Lukang, The Little Town" by Lo Ta-yu. Although the way these two artists expressed their childhood memories is quite different, they both managed to reach those who have been away from "home".
Chalaw comes from Southern part of Taiwan; he grew up next to the beach, so the ocean and the coast are as natural as breathing to him. He started exploring with all kinds of musical instruments at the age of five, and hasn't put them down since. After graduating from junior high school at 16, he took his dream with him to the big city--Taipei. All he knew was that he wanted to be a musician, but, like most struggling artists, he ended up with little money. He was accepted into a school in Taipei, but didn't have enough money to finish and graduate, so he made his living by doing simple construction work on the side.
After many years in the big city and experiences that might have seen painful to some, he still hadn't forgotten his dream of becoming a musician; twenty years after he left, he decided to go back to the tribe and keep pursuing his dream from there.
While interviewing Chalaw, I noticed that, although he was usually smiling, he is really quite a serious man. He is serious when it comes to music, his performance, and his life. His personal demeanor is almost intimidating, which is in sharp contrast to his music. If you watch a live performance, listen to his album, or read through his lyrics, you feel a part of him projected onto you; what he writes and plays and sings is accessible. One thing is for certain though, he is a great example of someone who never gave up on his dreams, no matter how ugly things became. Now we know, that Chalaw's real journey is about to begin, and all we have to do is join him for the ride.