Independent singer cehryl on the challenges of the Hong Kong music scene, focusing less on Instagram followers, more on artistic creation – YP


Sometimes Cheryl Chow’s recordings accidentally include the sounds of her father’s footsteps.

The freelance singer-songwriter, better known as cehryl, began making music from her bedroom during her high school years. Even after graduating from a music school in the United States in 2014 and returning to Hong Kong five years later, she continued to use her home as a studio.

” I can not afford [to book a studio] … But this is Hong Kong, ”she said, highlighting the financial difficulties that many singers like her face in the city.

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Independent singers are independent artists who are not represented by a record company, or whose songs are generally considered to be different from mainstream music.

Chow, 25, is known for her dreamy and intimate rhythms. His songs Side effects and angels (emilie) have racked up a total of 4 million streams on Spotify since their release in 2017 and 2020, respectively.

Many consider the 80s and 90s to be the time when Hong Kong’s music scene reached its peak. At the time, the “four heavenly kings” of Canto-pop were well known beyond the city. While Hong Kong was still producing popular singers after 2000, its music scene no longer enjoyed global attention as people turned to K-pop and Mandopop.

In recent years, the local music scene has seen an invigorating comeback, but not just because of popular boy groups like Mirror and Error. The rise of independent singers like Chow, Gareth. T and Tyson Yoshi have also caught the attention of music lovers in Hong Kong.

But in making music without the financial support of a record label, independent artists face unique challenges. Chow, for example, can’t afford a studio, so she records music – and some background noise – in her bedroom.

Armed with a laptop, microphone, guitar and headphones, she sees the challenge as an opportunity for growth.

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“Instead of trying to book a seat and have someone help you push a button, doing it all yourself is a good skill,” the singer explained.

After graduating from an international school in Hong Kong, Chow went to the United States to study music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music, a prestigious music school in Boston.

While in the United States, she formed a group in Los Angeles with two other musicians. Western culture, she recalls, was very different because no one considered original music to be “dumb”.

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“It definitely made me not be so safe, or not be so worried that things wouldn’t work out,” she said.

When Chow was growing up in Hong Kong, she found her music scene boring as it hadn’t changed over the years. But upon her return to the city in 2019, she was captivated by the local indie pop scene, where she found like-minded artists who wanted to make new music as well.

“It’s really small, but… a lot of young people are doing really cool things that aren’t commercial,” she said, describing independent singers as “a big fish in a small pond”.

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While the “indie” label generally meant that the artist was not represented by a record company, Chow said it had become more difficult to define the term as many independent artists in the city had signed with artists. record companies.

“The word ‘indie’ could be really confusing. Nowadays people use it to describe a genre, ”she said.

But she believes independent artists don’t just define themselves by making music that stands out, but also showing their true personality in their music, rather than what is made by a company.

Over the past few years, Chow has given more thought to what she wants – and it’s not fame.

“I don’t want to spend my 20s looking at Instagram and feeling insecure, or thinking my music isn’t good enough because I don’t have that many followers,” she said. , adding that she wanted to work on music that isn’t just about herself.

She makes music for two documentaries, one of which is on homelessness. Recently, she composed 15 pieces to accompany the exhibition of a local illustrator, Kazy Chan.

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Writing music for other projects got Chow out of his bubble.

“I feel like I’m moving away from talking about myself,” she said. “I don’t want to spend my whole life writing songs about how I feel.”

Click on here to download a printable worksheet with questions and exercises on this story. The answers can be found on the second page of the document.

Interview with Cheryl Chow, HK indie pop singer-songwriter in Tai Hang. 20AO21 SCMP / Edmond So

Interview with Cheryl Chow, HK indie pop singer-songwriter in Tai Hang. 20AO21 SCMP / Edmond So

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