Pro­ducer Alex Fung on what’s right with Can­topop

Alex Fung is the singer-song­writer-pro­ducer who’s brought a breath of fresh air to the city’s mu­sic main­stream, thanks to his work with singers in­clud­ing Ivana Wong and Joey Yung. His lat­est al­bum is a col­lec­tion of in­stru­men­tal 90s Can­topop clas­sics. He

HK Magazine - - PAGE 3 -

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I started learn­ing to play the piano when I was around 3, be­cause my dad loves mu­sic.

At around 5 or 6 I started join­ing com­pe­ti­tions and per­for­mances. My dad was very proud and wanted to show off my mu­si­cal ta­lent.

For a while, I hated mu­sic. So I tried my best to fin­ish all the piano ex­ams—when I was in Form One I al­ready had my Per­for­mance Diploma. I felt great af­ter the exam—be­cause I didn’t have to keep learn­ing clas­si­cal.

I was very re­bel­lious when I was around 12 or 13— I stopped play­ing or lis­ten­ing to mu­sic.

Then by chance I heard a song by Ra­dio­head. And then I heard songs by Por­tishead. I was like “Wow, mu­sic can be like this!” That’s when I fell back in love with mu­sic.

I was plan­ning on go­ing to Bos­ton’s Berklee Col­lege of Mu­sic to study, but just be­fore I flew there, I came down with a pleu­ral ef­fu­sion caused by tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. I had to go to the hos­pi­tal ev­ery sin­gle day for nine months.

Be­cause of that, I stayed in Hong Kong and ran­domly picked some­thing to study: I ended up study­ing elec­tronic engi­neer­ing at the Hong Kong Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy for one year. Yeah, it was to­tally out of nowhere.

When I could fi­nally go [to Berklee], I got to learn all the mu­sic that I love: a lit­tle bit of jazz, a lit­tle bit of acid jazz, a lit­tle bit of funk, a lit­tle bit of al­ter­na­tive rock—and I also learned how to pro­duce mu­sic.

I didn’t think I’d come back [to Hong Kong]. I started work­ing in New York—I was go­ing to stay there. But I felt guilty for leav­ing my par­ents be­hind, and I thought they would feel like they’d lost their son. Be­cause of them, I came back.

I didn’t know any­one from the record com­pa­nies, so I had to cold call from the Yel­low Pages, look­ing for [leg­endary mu­sic agent] Paco Wong.

I got through to his sec­re­tary and she was OK with me send­ing over my re­sume and demo. One week later, Paco called and asked to meet me. That’s how I broke into the in­dus­try. That was the year 2003.

I was asked to write all th­ese

“K songs” [songs aimed at karaoke]. I didn’t know how to write th­ese songs. Af­ter a while, I started ques­tion­ing my­self: Am I good enough to be here?

Luck­ily I met [Can­topop singer]

Ivana Wong, who also has pas­sion for mu­sic, pas­sion for some­thing dif­fer­ent— pas­sion for what we think real mu­sic is.

Through a friend from col­lege, I met [pro­ducer and singer-song­writer] Han­jin Tan and we formed a pro­duc­tion team called The In­vis­i­ble Men.

We started by cre­at­ing hip hop mu­sic for Edi­son Chen, then later Ivana’s less main­stream Can­topop, and then re­cently, mu­sic for Joey Yung. We want to bring a new sound to Can­topop.

There’s a lot of trea­sure in­side Can­topop. When I was young I was too self-in­dul­gent and ar­ro­gant to un­der­stand or ap­pre­ci­ate it. I didn’t open my ears and lis­ten to the mu­sic with an open heart.

That’s how I came up with my new al­bum,

“Chap­ter II—Stars of My Uni­verse,” to bring to­gether Can­topop songs that I’ve been lis­ten­ing to since I was a kid, no mat­ter if I liked them or not. I want to rein­tro­duce them to peo­ple.

The peo­ple who say Can­tonese mu­sic is dead are just se­lec­tively deaf. Can­tonese mu­sic is not just Can­topop. We have Can­torock, we have Canto in­die rock, we have Canto EDM too. Peo­ple don’t know be­cause they don’t care.

We’re half-dead be­cause of th­ese peo­ple. With less sup­port and re­sources, it’s harder to make bet­ter mu­sic.

Am I angry? Yes, a bit. I still be­lieve we have a great fu­ture. For a city so tiny, with seven mil­lion peo­ple, we have so much ta­lent.

Why can’t we just open our­selves up and stop crit­i­ciz­ing Can­tonese mu­sic? Let’s re­ally lis­ten and re­ally watch what’s go­ing on in Hong Kong. There’s a lot of beau­ti­ful things hap­pen­ing.

I chose to do cover songs [on the new al­bum] be­cause they can bring col­lec­tive mem­o­ries back to peo­ple—it’s not just my own ex­pe­ri­ences or sen­ti­ments.

If you buy my al­bum on iTunes, there’ll be a dig­i­tal book­let with three full mu­sic scores in­cluded. Why? Be­cause I don’t be­lieve mu­sic is only for the masters or pro­fes­sion­als.

I hope that peo­ple who are learn­ing in­stru­ments can jam with my mu­sic, or with their class­mates. As a father, I think ed­u­ca­tion is re­ally im­por­tant. I hope I can help pro­mote mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.