Artist Spotlight: The Wanted Serve Up a New Wave of Taiwanese Acapella

By: Emma Salehi
02/01/2024
en
Thumbnail courtesy of The Wanted (尋人啟事).

It’s a new year, and EnVi has exciting content for you to discover in 2024! This January, we are spotlighting emerging talent from all across the Asian diaspora and beyond. From fresh music releases to silver screen debuts, check out some of our new favorite up-and-coming creatives to keep an eye on.


Emerging from a high school band and YouTube stardom, Taiwanese acapella group The Wanted (尋人啟事) engaged in their first ever English interview with EnVi Media. The five voices of The Wanted came through the screen, as they introduced themselves one-by-one: Adi (信迪), the group’s leader and vocal bass; Dodo (尋人) and Rere, the group’s sopranos; Chia (掐玉), the genre-bending mezzo-soprano rapper; and Arnold (阿諾), who is in charge of vocal percussion and beatbox. 

The success of their first album Dear Adult, which was released in 2020, has encouraged The Wanted to release another album this past November. Driven by the desire to carve their own unique path in the acappella world, specifically with original songs, the group continued crafting lyrics filled with personal stories that would connect with listeners on a deeper level. In the two years between albums, they kept their momentum going by releasing a steady stream of singles, medley, and covers of both Taiwanese and English songs.

But, can acapella tackle body image? The Wanted are proving it’s possible to dive deep into the complexities with heart in their latest release. Fresh from dropping their boundary-pushing second album, Chubby! Chubby! (減肥計劃), this nine-track project tackles the concept of dieting in a playful and nuanced way. 

The Wanted spoke with EnVi Media over video about how their personal journeys ignited the fire behind the tracks on Chubby! Chubby! (減肥計劃). Meanwhile, they’re also staying busy organizing a 10th anniversary tour that will redefine acapella performances! 

Acapella Alchemy

As the group reaches their 10-year anniversary, The Wanted remain driven to push boundaries with their music. While they acknowledge the potential for streaming success with covers, their true satisfaction lies in crafting original sounds and meaningful songs. “My Sorrow,” a viral hit from their Dear Adult album, with its one million plus views further fueled their passion for personal and impactful music. 

In their latest album, Chubby! Chubby! (減肥計劃), the group embraces technology and incorporates vocal effects, transforming their voices into sounds that organically are hard to replicate. This conscious choice towards “streamer-friendly” sounds has earned them surprised reactions when listeners find out that there are no instruments — just their voices.

Technology helps The Wanted tap into their music, with loopers that help layer more than just their five voices. This is seen in “Shadow of Ghost” and “Chubby,” where breathing is transformed into an instrument. “All the sources come from our vocals,” Dodo shared. 

Just like other genres of music, their core remains the same: expressing how they feel through music. “The most important thing is that we never limit ourselves in vocals or what we can do with acapella,” Dodo emphasized. “Sometimes, we limit our imaginations.” 

This dedication to technology and effects bleeds into the group’s live shows. Unlike traditional acapella bands, they face unique challenges due to their microphones, which can create feedback loops, unlike instruments. Acapella is a collaborative effort on stage, The Wanted added, because one day someone’s voice may be different. If that is the case, the whole group has to adapt to that change and match their condition on that day.

Beyond The Lyrics

Drowning in a sea of information. Bombarded by societal expectations. Insecurities flowing through your head. The Wanted’s latest album, Chubby! Chubby!, tackles these burdens head-on, while the five members use their vocals to shed metaphorical weight. The title of the album, which translates to “Diet Plan,” further underscores its theme of shedding anxieties and pressures.

The Wanted hope to achieve both a physical and mental effect with their music that breathes life into every note. With sounds that physically move your body, allowing you to take in the lyrics and breathe with the rhythm. This desire to connect goes beyond their music, as soprano Dodo passionately expressed, “Our music and stories can become a community where everyone can share their own life. Even though it’s very hard to get people to listen to them, we still have to write our own story because that is how we can be remembered and share our own life with others’ lives.” 

From personal stories to shared favorites, every member found a piece of themselves in the songs from their most recent album. Leader and vocal bass Adi favors the track “How Is Everything (你好嗎)” most. He appreciates its traditional acapella style, raw and unadulterated by special effects or technology. The song serves as a heartfelt check-in on loved ones.

Shake Off (甩)” is soprano Rere’s favorite and is a track that becomes its own challenge on stage. The song requires an effect panel that pushes their onstage limitations and creates a whole new sound far from traditional acapella. Meanwhile mezzo-soprano rapper Chia crowns “Chubby,” the album’s title track, as her personal favorite. This track, its Mandarin title also translating to “Diet Plan,” is deliciously ironic as it is a workout anthem sung entirely about food. The tempo flows from slow to fast, mirroring the song’s playful push-pull between indulging and exercising.

As for vocal percussionist and beatboxer Arnold, “Worthless (靜靜),” the closing track from the album, holds a special place in his heart. This ballad speaks to the ever-present support of loved ones, even when their words may fall short. The song opens with soft arpeggio, gradually unfolding into a rich sound filled with layers. 

While “Worthless (靜靜)” celebrates the unconditional support of loved ones, other tracks on the album explore the darker sides of societal expectations. Inspired by personal struggles with diet culture and body image anxieties, Dodo uses her music to challenge harmful norms and empower listeners. Dodo said, “If you want to achieve your goals you have to have a very strong mindset, actually throughout all this pain and suffering you have to have a strong mentality.”

Music Munchies

In its lyrics, “Chubby” explodes with vibrant visuals and mountains of food. The whole song is a wordplay feast, and the music video takes it even further. Channeling the energy of classic food commercials, the five burst onto the screen in colorful striped outfits. The camera zooms in to capture their infectious enthusiasm as they harmonize with nothing but their voices.

However, filming “Chubby” meant strict diets for The Wanted, who were on set surrounded by food daily. When we asked about their personal cravings and Taiwanese food recommendations, the five all gasped in a state of indecision. There were just too many good options to offer as their final answers. 

After a minute of debating, Chia jumped in first to say, “stinky tofu!” and was met with enthusiastic nods and cheers from the group. Rere chimed in to recommend sweet potato balls, while Dodo, a bubble tea connoisseur, insisted you can’t leave Taiwan without trying the drink, along with all the toppings! So, whether you’re planning a trip or just searching nearby, prepare yourself to try some Taiwanese cuisine, courtesy of The Wanted!

Keeping the Creative Flow

The Wanted’s unique sound and creativity stem from constant streams of inspiration. From immersing themselves in anime soundtracks to Dodo’s deep connection with DJs and electronic music circles, The Wanted keep the ideas flowing.

Dodo’s friendships have played a key role in their latest album. Hanging out with DJs and musicians has opened her eyes to different approaches in their sound. Dodo’s flow hinges on the emotional impact of each note.

Anime OSTs also spark The Wanted’s creativity. The fast tempos and high energy that resonate with acapella audiences find their way into The Wanted’s music because of this source of inspiration. Not afraid to push the pace, the innovative acapella group constantly strives to replicate that same excitement in their own songs.

“A lot of anime songs tend to be fast tempo, a very very fast pace,” explained Dodo in Mandarin. The translator added in English, “They also realized during a lot of acapella performances when you add in that tempo, it’s very popular among the audience.”

The Wanted’s favorite Japanese artists include YOASOBI, LiSA , Queen Bee, and ALI.  Of course being The Wanted, their most recent instagram  cover came with a twist, as they delivered the track with a YOASOBI-inspired sound with song “戰記 – 《三國志・戰略版》兩週年主題曲.”

New Year, New Stages for The Wanted

Deeply grateful for their fans’ support, their teachers, and producers they’ve worked with, Taiwan’s leading acapella group feels Chubby! Chubby! represents an evolution for their genre. The Wanted have injected technology into a traditional acapella sound, creating something fresh and new.

As The Wanted delved into their future plans, their eyes became bright, shining with enthusiasm and excitement. Their pride and anticipation for these new plans pulsed through the room and all the way through the computer screen. A live show showcasing the new album is already in the works, with rehearsals for the setlist in full swing. Their goal is to perform this show across different countries.

Beyond touring, The Wanted’s creative fire shines bright. The five members are eager to push boundaries and delve into more experimental music, building on their current sound to explore what lies beyond.

Mark your calendars, as The Wanted’s 10th anniversary celebration concert — expected sometime between May and June — showcases a unique medley of their classic songs, with a twist!

Be sure to listen to Chubby! Chubby! (減肥計劃) on Spotify, Apple Music, StreetVoice, or YouTube

Want to check out more Taiwanese creatives? Read all about Taiwanese American actress Ashley Liao here!