Interview with Moulann and Mr. Will Wong7 min read

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Kruger Products (manufacturer Cashmere toilet paper and Sponge Towels) recently released their Unapologetically Human ad campaign, featuring real people dealing with real messes – spills, tears, blood, runny noses, messy crafts, and more. To resonate with different communities, the campaign featured creative advertisement pieces in English, French, Hindi/Urdu, Cantonese, and Mandarin. In honour of Chinese New Year, the company reached out to Ricepaper Magazine to speak with the Cantonese and Mandarin talents of this campaign. The Cantonese soundtrack is sung by Mr. Will Wong and the Mandarin song by Moulann.

Toronto-based singer-songwriter, Moulann was born in Taiwan of Chinese and Japanese heritage. She began her musical studies at the age of 4, shortly after immigrating to Canada. Her style of diverse music is self-described as “pop-music dim sum.”

Mr. Will Wong is an entertainment blogger, film reviewer and singer. He is often on CP24 during Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and is the reigning Now Magazine Readers’ Choice Best Blogger.

Moulann by Tian Pei and Mr. Will Wong

JF Garrard (JF, Deputy Editor of Ricepaper Magazine): Thank you both for taking the time to be interviewed by Ricepaper! Can you please introduce yourself and tell us how you became a musician?

Moulann (M): My name is Moulann and I became a songwriter rather organically; as a naturally expressive and experimental person, I was never quite happy playing the same music for piano lessons, nor singing the same things in the choir, so as soon as I discovered my music theory knowledge had a creative application, I started writing songs. Everything else from performing to production kind of came as a natural extension of this self-expression.

Mr. Will Wong (WW): Hello, I’m Will. Professionally, I go by Mr. Will Wong. My journey as a musician really has been a full-circle thing. I sang all through elementary and high school and competed when I was in my 20s, winning me trips to Asia, Boston, New York, and more. I put out a few independent releases in Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin) and English, and signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell. I decided to put my music career on-hold and explored my passion for entertainment, creating an award-winning blog, MR. WILL WONG, which has been a mainstay since 2009 with readers across the country. The pandemic has allowed me to be home a lot and I’ve explored music again. In ways, it hasn’t been all a bad thing.

MOULANN by Katherine Kwan

JF: I thought it was really awesome to see so many different languages of Unapologetically Human spreading such positive messages about the human condition. How did this collaboration come about with Kruger?

M: The wonders of the internet! As soon as I heard the Hindi version, I was captivated by this song and its message. When I found out there was a Mandarin version that needed a vocalist, I was happy to help bring this uplifting piece to life. As a creator, I enjoy seeing how different artists bring their own energy to their respective versions of the same work.

WW: Thank you! It was actually a few friends who heard about this wonderful opportunity who put my name forward. I sang a little demo on my phone and got the callback. It was validating knowing that I still had it in me after not exercising my performer muscles in so long. The campaign taps into something very real that many of us are experiencing right now especially, transcending the boundaries of language and ethnicity. Kruger Products are firmly planted in our lives as essentials. No matter how we experienced this pandemic, their products have been there for all of us and I love how their products are a commonality through all our joys, celebrations, mishaps, and misfortunes. Their products take care of your most basic needs to allow you to thrive and be your best you.

JF: In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, paper products have become more important than ever before. Admittedly Cashmere toilet paper is one of my favorite brands. While growing up in an immigrant family I remember branded toilet paper being a luxury item. Do you think this campaign will influence people to live a little by treating themselves better with these paper products? What is the message you think is being spread by this campaign?

M: The message I take away from this campaign is for us to embrace the full spectrum of our humanity with softness; from little everyday metabolic processes to the deeply affecting moments…it’s a luxury to be able to wipe the side-effects of living with the softest product available.

WW: For sure! The Unapologetically Human campaign has struck a chord with so many people. The feedback unanimously has been positive and it’s been a joy receiving lovely messages on social media from people who connected so much to the TV spot that they searched the song out and took the time to tell me how they felt. Some had questions about what the lyrics meant, some wanted the full song. So if people are reacting like this, I’m certain the imagery is sticking and people are recognizing the brand on the shelf. I love Cashmere – Ultra 3-ply please because I deserve the best and so do you!

JF: This year is a bit different since there can’t be gatherings and many restaurants are only doing take-out. How are you celebrating Chinese New Year? Are you doing take-out or cooking?

M: I’m celebrating with hot-pot. It’s not really take-out nor is it really cooking. It’s like a never-ending fondue buffet and I think we should all do it more…with Kruger paper products to wipe our mouths and spills, of course!

WW: I am totally a sucker for festive things. Chinese New Year is one of my favourite holidays. I have my outfit ready and so does my puppy. My mom makes the most amazing Taro Cake (sometimes Turnip Cake, both great!) every year, so that’s a tradition and I have my New Year Cake – you know the sweet, chewy one made with rice flour – ready in my freezer and ready for the steamer. Normally my family and I all go out for dinner which usually includes lobster, but that can’t be this year. But pretty sure we will order something in, and it will be delicious! I will also be sure to pick up some of those shiny, beautifully packaged candies. Lucky Candy, Crispy Candy, Sesame Cookie Balls. All of that.

JF: Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

M: I’m constantly building my song catalogue, as well as writing, arranging, and doing production with other musicians. I’ve been in this low-key mode for a bit, especially now during the lockdown, but there are several projects simmering beneath the quiet surface, which will be shared as soon as they are ready!

WW: I know we’re working on releasing the Cantonese version of the Unapologetically Human track, which is called Keep Moving [繼續行]. The brilliant producers Q and Bobby Singh are applying the finishing touches. I’m a bit busy with work right now otherwise, staying grounded and adapting to doing things at home, but don’t be surprised if I post a few covers now and then.

JF: Where can people find out more about you and your music?

M: My social handles are @moulann or @moulxnn on Instagram. My website is moulann.com and you can find links to other platforms there as well.

WW: I’m on Instagram (Instagram.com/mrwillwong), Facebook (facebook.com/mrwillwongblog) and Twitter (twitter.com/mrwillw). The website is mrwillwong.com. I’m not shy about sharing my life with the world, so don’t be shy too!

JF: Thank you both for sharing your thoughts! To see the Cantonese and Mandarin versions of Unapologetically Human, check out the videos below!

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