Jun 26, 2013

    Idol alumnus takes on Adele

    Though Taiwanese- American Nate Tao, 24, didn't make it to the finals of American Idol Season 12, his performance on the reality show has helped launch his singing career.

    The singer-songwriter, originally from Virginia and based in Los Angeles, released a self-titled debut EP last month.

    The EP's five songs were recorded here, where Tao spent two weeks in January with his friend, Singaporean producer Tat Tong.

    Tao will be back here to perform at the Under The Stars: The YouTube Sensations concert on Friday.

    What will you be performing for your fans here during the concert?

    I just came out with my own album that I made in Singapore in January. I'll be performing a couple of songs off that and a lot of covers from my YouTube channel.

    I don't want to give them away, but I'll be singing some from Adele, some from Mariah Carey - great vocalists whom I look up to.

    Are you sad that your parents, who are deaf, aren't able to hear you sing?

    That's the one thing I (possess) and they don't have the capacity to appreciate. That said, I would say we are fortunate to have each other.

    If you asked me that five years ago, I'd say I'm totally fine with it. I think, as you get past your teen years, you are more honest with yourself. That is certainly something that is disappointing, (but) we get through it.

    Why did you decide to audition for American Idol?

    I had done a couple of those kinds of reality shows (The Voice and X Factor) for the past two years, but I didn't get very far.

    When I heard that Idol was coming round to audition, I brushed it off at first.

    After performing with a cappella group The Funx, an old man came up to me and said in a stone-cold, serious manner: "You have a gift from God and you should never stop singing."

    It was great to hear that from a complete stranger. It was like an epiphany. And I was, like, let's just try for Idol.

    Are you planning on signing with a record label?

    I think it's important for me to stay independent until I have a big enough following and a portfolio of music that I believe in.

    Generally, I think it's important for you to establish your identity before you sign yourself away to a label. If you don't let yourself evolve like that, you're kind of giving away the chance to establish who you are on your own.

    As an Asian-American doing mainstream pop, do you find it a challenge to break into the United States music industry?

    I always ask people: With your...fingers, can you count the number of established popular Asian-American artists? A lot of people don't put up any fingers.

    There are so many reasons. A lot of them have to do with stereotypes.

    When Idol had William Hung, people ended up ridiculing him (and he) happened to be Asian. It was detrimental to a certain degree.

    Do you think YouTube is a good way for aspiring singers to grow their career?

    I think YouTube is a huge and amazing tool for aspiring singers to gain an audience and show their talent to the world.

    If you want to be the next big thing, you shouldn't just do YouTube. You need to write songs, go out and meet people, and network.

    Just doing YouTube is fun, and can get you a lot of fans. If you are looking for career need to go out and make those connections in person.


    Catch Nate Tao at Under The Stars: The YouTube Sensations on Friday, 7pm, at The Coliseum, Resorts World Sentosa. Tickets are on sale at Sistic at $68. Visit