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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #180 on: August 01, 2011, 11:58:37 PM »
This is an interesting read. I been a HOCC fan since Day 1, even when she was just a VJ on some late night TVB Music Video show. In a site built for JPOP and KPOP, I'll always be waving the Canto Pop :jphip:

The Changing Face of Cantopop (Long interviews with Denise Ho, Khalil Fong, MC Jin and RubberBand)

In recent years, Hong Kong music has become more diverse and adventurous than ever before. Mark Tjhung explores the reasons behind the evolving scene and profiles four of the most influential faces who are shaping the future.



There’s a stigma over Cantopop: cheesy, formulaic, plastic and sappy. These are just some of the clichéd charges which are leveled against Hong Kong’s pop music industry on a regular basis and, for too long, the indictments on the city’s influential music staple have been all too justified. Derivative songwriting, digitally enhanced starlets who can’t sing but can attract an endorsement dollar, and the power clique of record execs, television stations and award ceremonies have all contributed to its tawdry reputation. But while the behind-the-scenes power stronghold remains very much the same, the musical condemnation of Cantopop is, in many ways, a little dated.

Today, Cantopop is changing. The plodding love ballad, which has very much been the archetype for the genre, no longer reigns as the sole dominant force, and Hong Kong mainstream music as a whole – a huge cultural export – has started to welcome a raft of ideas, genres and sound.

“We have pop, jazz, DJs, hip-hop. All of these are Hong Kong pop elements, and they crossover into the pop music world,” says Wong Chi-chung, renowned music critic, CR2 radio DJ, concert producer and curator as well as author of the 2007 book Hong Kong’s pop soundscape. “This is really the time that we should all get intertwined.”

This intertwining is already underway. There are, of course, the massive names: Eason Chan, Sammi Cheng and the like; but singer-songwriters, rock outfits, hip-hop artists, and jazz multi-instrumentalists are now more prevalent than they’ve ever been in Hong Kong music, as are Putonghua and English. And in just the past few years, through a conspiracy of factors, the industry has slowly transformed from the heights of the derided karaoke ballad culture to a more diverse, balanced and ambitious landscape than it’s arguably ever been in, providing an opportunity for music that hasn’t fit into the old Cantopop mold to play a more active part in the scene.

And in a way, Edison played a part…

THE DEATH OF A POP IDOL

Sex scandals may make good tabloid fodder, but they’re hardly what you’d think of as culture-shaping news. But when Edison’s compromising photos appeared on the internet in early 2008, it resulted in a mini-backlash against the entertainment industry and, perhaps subconsciously, changed the public’s attitude towards Hong Kong’s pop idols.

Let’s put it in perspective. At the time of the Edison Chen scandal, pop idol culture was at its peak. Acts like Twins were reaching their heights with their manufactured doll-like facades and robotic choreographed dances, looks – as opposed to talent – were the paramount indicator of star quality and, in pandering to the karaoke dollar, pop songs had been reduced to a ludicrous and all-too obvious formula (leading to Jan Lamb’s piss-taking mock-ballad Satire《流行曲 》).

“[The sex scandal] tore the fans’ dreams apart because they were thinking that pop idols were as pure as they projected and that really broke their hearts,” says Gary Chan, long time critic of the Hong Kong music industry and Associate Publisher of music magazine Re:spect. “[The fans] wanted to seek some alternative by that time. Because of that incident, there was no more fantasy and they tried to bring something new.”

It wasn’t as though Hongkongers completely rejected the notion of the exploited pin-up. Rather, people sought a better definition between their musical idols and their fantasy girls, something emphasized by the emergence of the lang mo. In one corner you had the brazen, super sexed-up pseudo-model; in the other, legitimate musicians.

“Before, the public tended to buy the image of Stephy [Tang] or Twins. But, after, the lang mo really took the attention of the public, rather than the girl idol. So, those girl idols don’t really have the market in Hong Kong,” says Chan. “The lang mo have really helped the scene to differentiate between the musician, singer-songwriters and others… Before, I think the concept was so mixed up.”

In a post-Edison world, more is expected from our musicians than ever. “If you’re just another teeny-bopper idol and you can dance well, it’s not enough now – even record companies know that,” says Wong.

The record companies, of course, are just following the demand. The change has principally come about because the audience now knows better.

THE ONLINE LIFELINE

To say the internet has changed the way we consume music is a tiresome cliché now. But it’s also true. And there are few factors that have broadened the breadth of music consumed by Hongkongers than the online world.

“Before, it was the karaoke charts, radio and TV. The public really limited their music taste and preference,” says Chan. “[Now] they know where to find songs. They are not really bound by the mass media.”

The consequences of the tech-age are two-fold. The first affects the audience. “When they get access to the digital culture, they know this guy
can sing, that guy can’t sing, that other guy can play instruments,” says Wong. “Music culture is all about the empowerment of the audience… So, the fans are not just mediocre like they were before and the level of critical audience [is rising].”

In addition, musicians have begun absorbing influences from a far wider pool and a broader musical palette, which inevitably filters down to the breadth of styles and genres being produced in Hong Kong.

The upshot is straightforward: Hongkongers are now exposed to more music than they have ever been and, in an environment where the closed mass-market has dominated for so long, are driving demand for a different breed of artist.

GOING LIVE

The internet has also provided record companies with a few headaches. Pirates, single-song downloads, the increasing irrelevancy of the album and dwindling CD sales have seen the music industry as a whole be forced to adapt to the digital era.

Globally, artists have increasingly taken to the stage to ensure a decent pay packet. It’s a clear trend – live gigs are where the money’s at – and it applies equally, if not more so, in the Hong Kong market, where putting musicians on stage has required a rethink of the attributes of a star.

“The audience wants to spend their money on live shows, rather than CDs, so they request the singer to have presence on stage, and good performance and singing,” says Chan.

The star of the new age requires some decent musical chops and, as Chan points out, certain types of musicians are more suited to these new bars being set. “I guess the record labels also tend to sign contracts with more singer-songwriters. They really know that live performances can attract more people, and more money,” he says. “Even singers don’t depend on their pretty faces anymore – they really need them to dance, have the grooves and sing well.”

MUSICAL CHAOS

In recent years, due to all these factors, the public has been looking for alternatives to the cookie-cutter world that was Cantopop. And increasingly, the pie has fractured into more varied and definable genres. “When the pop music market is swinging and diving, and the record companies and musicians are facing a crisis, they seek something new,” says Wong.

Singer-songwriters were the first ‘new’ wave of musicians to make an impact on the market, with the likes of Chet Lam, at17, Ivana Wong, Louis Cheung and Khalil Fong emerging. But from the singer-songwriter branch, things have grown. “We can find Canto hip-hop, Canto-electronica, we have jazzy people, like Bianca Wu, and we have indie stuff, like The Pancakes,” says Wong, naming just a few of the new directions of the industry.

“[The industry] is really chaotic at the moment, in an excellent way,” adds Chan. “It is a good turning point in Hong Kong music history.”
The scene is being pulled in all sorts of multifarious directions. And from pop and R&B to hip-hop, folk and rock, there are some artists that are changing the face of Cantopop and paving its way into a new era. We profiled four of the most influential, HOCC, Khalil Fong, MC Jin and RubberBand, who, in their own way, are bringing a new breadth and depth to Hong Kong mainstream music...

The Changing Face of Cantopop: HOCC

Up close, so many aspects of Denise Ho Wan-see leap out. There’s a steely focus as she meticulously perfects her outfit; her striking looks – an elegant and slow-burning symmetry that photographs rarely do justice to; and her instantly likeable persona – an effortless and natural charisma that radiates calmly around her.

Indeed, over the years, Hongkongers have become used to seeing so many sides of Ho. Widely known as HOCC, she is an icon of style, a charismatic public personality, occasional starlet of the silver screen and a chameleonic musical figure who has morphed from pop to rock to folk.

Musically, her decade-long career has been both respected and daring. She’s enjoyed mainstream success, cultured a more indie edge, and become one of a leading female figure of Cantopop. But unlike many leading artists, she has also found a voice for matters other than singing. “As a Hong Kong singer, when you look at the music scene you’re pretty much devastated by the state of it,” she says, sitting back in her chair in a studio in Kwun Tong.

HOCC has long been a critic of the state of Cantopop. But over the years her outspoken attitude has taken in subjects well beyond the music industry, from mental health and the environment to the city’s savage rich-poor divide and blindness, becoming one of the defining elements of her music. “If we are trying to locate a strong attitude, strong voice from a female artist, a bold opinion leader who is always making strong statements, then she’s the one,” says critic Wong Chi-chung.

As with much of the HOCC story, a lot of it comes back to Anita Mui, the late legendary star who mentored the now 34-year-old through her early years in the industry. “I was a crazy fan back in the 80s and the first time I saw Anita Mui in concert, I got a funny kind of feeling, like she was my idol. Yeah, I got that feeling,” she says. “Til now, I still think that if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have become a singer.”

Since her Mui-reared breakthrough around a decade ago, the legacy of her mentor has had a strong bearing on HOCC’s artistic direction. At first, it was far more direct and imitative but as HOCC found her own direction, she also tapped into another aspect of her relationship with Mui – one that mirrored the effect that her idol had on her.

“I was a crazy fan once too so I really know the influence that an idol can have on her or his fans,” she says. “I became quite conscious of my role in the lives of my fans and at a certain point I started to think, what can I do with this role? Other than just sing songs, how can I use this position to maybe give them some encouragement or some influence or some kind of support in their lives.”

Perhaps the earliest manifestation of this approach was Ten Days in a Madhouse, her 2008 album that focused on the plight of people from difficult backgrounds, including those suffering from mental illness and poverty. “[Ten Days] is a very daring project – no one touches that area. But she wants to go there, and she wants to go there in her own way, musically,” says Wong. Gary Chan of Re:spect magazine agrees. “I guess this is the real face, the real aspect of HOCC. This is very original stuff. When she got her success, she wanted to make her own album again. And to focus on this subject matter, an artist with this intention is very good.”

Coming off the back of the commercially successful 2007 album, What Really Matters, she suddenly had the fiscal freedom to try something different, and decided to bring a level of social awareness to the public.

“I like to take on challenges and I like to try ways that are not the most popular choices,” she says. “Especially in Hong Kong, if you don’t want to follow those rules, if you’re not taking the main road, you really have to walk more roads than other people. But by taking this approach, I think I gradually became conscious that, by being myself, I’m being an example for them too. Maybe in their environment they don’t have many people who tell them that you can choose the way you live, and you can choose the way you walk your road. You know, so, both with my music and with the way I pursue my career.”

There’s a certain passion in HOCC when she talks about being a role model – an unusual mix of resolve and unwavering humility – as well as an ounce of regret. “I’ve grown up a bit during these few years, evolved with the way I presented my music. In 2008, I was like, ‘You should listen to me, listen to me’. But after a while, because I was going crazy myself, I stepped a few steps back, and I just realised that you can say the same message with different kinds of ways,” she says. “I realized that with the power of one person, you cannot change the whole flood of the water, you cannot fight the mainstream. But you can influence people one by one.”

And then, of course, there’s the topic of homosexuality, a subject that’s surrounded HOCC not only through thematic references in her work (particularly in 2005’s Butterfly Lovers), but also in the flurry of rumour, gossip and constant speculation in the press and on the internet.

“The mass media are still quite shallow on this topic. After so many years, they will still ask, ‘Oh, are you...?’” she says, leaning in conspiratorially. “I think that among younger people, most of them are starting to understand that it’s not a disease or really a topic by itself. There’s still a lot of work to do about this, especially in Chinese society, but I think we have had some progress.”

Of course, HOCC is more than just about her outspoken voice and, musically, she has very much practiced what she has preached: following an unconventional path. “Musically, she is bringing many alternatives, and trying to break through, which has a lot of respect,” says Chan. “She’s important because she’s thinking.”

Rock tendencies, indie folk elements and mainstream ballads have all found a place within the HOCC canon in her 10-year career, with her musical approach changing with almost every album. But as she talks about Green, her recent Mandofolk EP that touches on ‘youth’ and ‘growth’, or her plans for the future, the subjects are always the first elements she turns to, the music seemingly secondary.

She’s recently dipped her feet into the Taiwanese market, finding success quickly and gaining a prestigious Golden Melody nomination for Best Mandarin Female Singer this year. But despite her outspoken disillusionment with the Hong Kong industry, she’s not ready to turn her back on her home yet.

“I won’t give up my Hong Kong side of my career. Yeah, I’m disappointed by many aspects of this scene but this is still my place. [It’s] like family, you know, you will complain about them, but it’s just because you hope they can get better. That’s why you voice this out.”

The Changing Face of Cantopop: Khalil Fong

Tall, lean, gangly, and sporting thick-rimmed glasses and a boyish fop of hair, Khalil Fong doesn’t exactly look like the quintessential Hong Kong pop star. But, indeed, that’s precisely the point. Maybe more than anybody, the Hawaiian-born, Shanghai and Hong Kong-bred artist embodies the changes that have taken place in the Hong Kong music industry over the past decade. His emergence over the last seven years mirrors the rise in popularity of singer-songerwriters. His distinctive bluesy, soulful and R&B-inflected sound shows the capacity of Hongkongers to embrace new genres. His endearing pinch of nerdiness, while possessing a quiet charm, is a departure from the traditional pin-up look. And he sings mainly in Putonghua, sometimes English and hardly ever in Cantonese. Indeed, he’s not straight out of the Cantopop star mould.

Khalil’s immense talent obviously has had a large part to play in his success. But the changing attitudes within the scene have also allowed him to prosper. “Five years ago, no one really cares about him. His music was pretty similar but the audience were really concentrated on the idol image. Khalil could not come out at that time,” says Gary Chan of music magazine Re:spect. “Now is the perfect timing for Khalil where people start to care more about the music rather than looks. That’s really helped more musicians come out with quality music.”

Quality music is, indeed, the first pillar of Khalil’s success. The self-taught guitarist and pianist is perhaps one of the most talented people in Hong Kong music, boasting a rare combination of abilities: a smooth and soulful voice, multi-instrumental ability, an innate compositional instinct, confidence to write his own lyrics and an immediately recognisable sound. “For me, it’s the whole thing. The songwriting, the playing, the arranging, the producing, the singing – that’s the whole package of fun,” says Fong, thoughtfully, in his warm American accent.

The baby-faced Fong is not just about writing any old song, though. He’s bringing something rather new to the Hong Kong scene and as Khalil constantly makes reference to, he’s very influenced by black music. Famously an audiophile, he reels off the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Hendrix, BB King, John Coltrane and ‘of course, Michael Jackson’ among his influences – a venerable raft of soul, blues and R&B greats from yesteryear – as well as more contemporary names like Brian McKnight and D’Angelo.

When he came out with his debut album, Soulboy, in 2004, he was quite naturally compared to other Chinese R&B artists likes David Tao and Jay Chou. But ironically, given his current high-flying position, Cantopop and Mandopop was not something that was ever on his radar.

“I generally don’t get influenced by Chinese music because it’s not something that I listen to on a regular basis. I’d rather just listen to, you know, black artists,” he says.

Since his debut, he has continued to change direction, from soul to R&B, touches of funk to a bluesy edge. “Anything I do, it’s not really changing but rather just tapping into a part of me. Of course, I won’t be going and doing like punk or anything, because that’s not really part of my music history,” says Fong. “So anything that has to do with black music, you know, I’m probably going to do it sometime.”

His most recent album, 15 – the age when Khalil started learning guitar (he’s just turned 28) – was recorded with a trio and taps into his bluesy rock side. “I was thinking, is there any possibility for me to incorporate a bit more blues into the music? It was a kind of a risk because it’s really not something that is that appealing to the ear for Chinese listeners, and no one’s really done it successfully.”

Over time, with the success of his six albums, he’s gradually been able to take a more ambitious creative approach to his music. “The last track of 15 blows your mind. There’s like a 60-piece string section. It’s unthinkable in Cantopop,” says music critic and CR2 DJ Wong Chi-chung. “He gains his say every time, growing and growing, and then the record label trusts his judgment and his producers.”

However, even for Khalil, pushing the boundaries isn’t necessarily an easy thing, and he admits to being a touch apprehensive about it. “I would sometimes wonder if, jeez, will it scare some people away? But I mean, what else am I going to do? I really wouldn’t know what my next album would be if it wasn’t that,” says Fong. “I think, musically, this album [15] is something that definitely pushes the boundaries for Asian music.”

He tells us Motown is in his future plans, as is a jazz album, but he also wants to continue experimenting with his new trio and exploring the dynamic he enjoys in a band. “I really want to give it another chance to develop into something very significant,” he says.

The sonic aesthetic, be it soul, blues or R&B, is only one part of Khalil’s focus. And, as he tells it, the one that occupies most of his time is actually in the subject and message behind his music. “I think more about social issues than anything because I grew up listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder and MJ, so a lot of their songs have a lot of social messages,” he says.

Throughout his albums, he’s touched on themes of drugs, the environment and also his own religious side – a side of Khalil that’s not very widely publicised but which fuels a lot of his philosophies. “For me, being Baha’i, it’s very important that anything that I do musically or artistically has a positive effect on someone else’s life,” he says. “That is an important message that is within Baha’i faith. It’s said to beware of the prostitution of the arts.”

It’s hard to think of Khalil ever changing his ways. But with the world of Cantopop being as it is, it’s reassuring to know that his musical philosophy is safeguarded by a higher power.

The Changing Face of Cantopop: MC Jin

MC Jin speaks just like you’d expect him to. The American-born Chinese rapper rhythmically spits out words at an impossibly fast pace, punctuated by occasional pauses, like phrases in his rhyme. It’s fluid, almost as if his every conversation is a rap – and at times it’s unrelenting.

Over a bowl of fried rice, Jin is speaking at length about the most significant change in his life recently – his new-found relationship with God. “[Christianity] has affected my music in every single way possible, without a doubt. But I think that boils down to how God is working in my life, first and foremost,” he says.

For Jin, it seems, God is very much omnipresent. But ironically, for Hongkongers, Jin himself is almost as ubiquitous. You’ve seen his face floating over images of Yoshinoya shabu shabu, sucking down lemon tea on giant billboards, being shocked by outrageous MTR deals across the subway system, and popping up on TV shows galore. He is emblazoned across our entire city which, for someone plying their trade first and foremost as a rapper, is a rather unheard of proposition.

Rap and hip-hop have long had a presence in Hong Kong music. There were the mid-80s raps of George Lam, the early 90s successes of Softhard, the iconic political undercurrent created by LMF and, of course, Edison. But even with the contemporary success of 24Herbs and FAMA, rarely has the genre flirted with crossing over into the mainstream. Of all of these artists, it’s perhaps Jin who has most threatened to make this step – at least in terms of visibility.

Jin’s own success, and indeed his very presence in Hong Kong, is a story of our city’s changing musical attitudes. Wong Chi-chung puts it in perspective. “[In 2004] I was working at EMI, and his record [The Rest is History] was on my desk. We tried to promote his album, but back then, no one cared. It was really hard to sell a couple of hundred albums,” he says.

Even with ABC, Jin’s all-Cantonese album that eventually launched him into the Hong Kong spotlight, the market took some convincing. ABC was written and recorded in the US in 2006 and sent to Hong Kong labels, but it was only in mid-2008 that record execs finally saw its potential, bringing Jin over for its release. So what had changed?

“I don’t want to say that [rap] was officially commercial yet, because even to this moment, you have a lot of rap elements added in songs, in commercials and on radio, and every so often you hear one or two rap records, but by no means would I say that it’s mainstream,” says Jin. “[But] I think with various artists, Cantonese hip-hop was starting to become more and more widespread.”

Jin’s current everywhere-man status testifies to the slowly changing attitude to rap and hip-hop that’s occurred over the past few years. And since his emergence in 2008, he’s played a significant role in expanding its audience. His boyish good looks and optimistic lyrics have helped to change the way many people perceive rap, providing a juxtaposition to a lot of mainstream perceptions of gangster rap and an aggressive hip-hop undercurrent. “I think it’s his personality,” says Re:spect magazine’s Gary Chan. “He’s very outgoing, very easy going. It’s not really about his music, it’s more his personality and his personal charm.”

And beyond his own personality, he’s also bringing a different style of rap – one that’s accessible to almost everyone.

“It doesn’t make sense to compare my [Cantonese] raps with [FAMA, LMF, 24 Herbs], technically. But here’s the thing about music, it’s not always about being technical. Sometimes when people encounter me, they’ll say, ‘Jin, you know why I like your raps? Cause it’s not technical. I can listen to it once and I know exactly what you’re saying. You get straight to the point,” says Jin, flowing, fluid and quick-tongued as ever. “If you tell me you want me to write a song about the MTR, the only way I can do it is like straight on, like, [rapping] ‘喂搭地鐵,去到邊,你行先,我行先’ or whatever. I can’t make it more complex than that because of pure language limitations.” It’s like the equivalent of mono-syllabic rap in English.

Rather than a limitation, Gary Chan of Re:spect sees this as one of Jin’s major selling points. “Jin is bringing out hip-hop, rapping and freestyle, which is not as hard as [people may have] thought. It’s easy. Maybe not always good, but easy to play with. And people have that image. And he is encouraging the audience to come up on stage and battle with him all the time, and that starts some trends there.”

The subjects of Jin’s raps also share this user-friendliness. While he confesses that he used to write more about babes in clubs, a lot of his recent output has been about pop culture, releasing little tunes and videos about 7-Eleven, his catchprase ‘Aiya’ and Charlie Sheen, as well as working on several successful cross-over projects such as last year’s collaboration with singer/producer Hanjin Tan. “The collaboration with Hanjin brought Jin’s music to a new level. And more audience. His fans didn’t leave him because of this project, but only improved him musically,” says Chan.

However, one collaboration that didn’t go down so well was his double team with bow-tied Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, which saw Jin rapping on a Christmas government promotional video called Rap Now 2010.

“I don’t know why his manager would ever think about that. That 起錨 (hei lau) thing was about the government trying to trick the Hong Kong people about the political changes. And as a hip-hop artist, you endorse that? He didn’t think about the consequences,” says Wong Chi-chung. Jin claims he wasn’t aware of the reforms or that ‘起錨’ was a political slogan. But this didn’t prevent a substantial backlash against MC Jin, particularly online.

It's not the only criticism that Jin has had to endure, with accusations of being a sell-out, being too commercial, and not producing real hip-hop all levelled at him on occasion. Chan, however, sees real value in what Jin is bringing to the scene. “He is an artist that is broadening the range of the audience. Even [with other genres], many people criticise someone that he’s not really pop, he's not a real rocker – but that person is still very important.” For the future of Hong Kong hip-hop, Jin is upbeat, and he sees it growing.

“On an independent level, there’s tons of young guys just in their room with the microphone writing raps, recording songs, shooting independent videos, putting them online. There is that community,” says Jin. He’s also recently had two local talents, KT and KZ, sign to Catch Adventures – the label that he’s also on, using that influence to help expand the presence of rap in Hong Kong.

In addition to the TVB dramas, countless billboards and a cameo in the RZA-directed The Man with the Iron Fist, he’s releasing his second Cantonese album, apparently called Wui Hern Jing, on August 8 – an album that he says “is very much reflective of what the experience has been like here in the last two and a half years”. You get the feeling that, while he may be everywhere now, you’ll only be seeing more and more from Jin.

The Changing Face of Cantopop: Rubberband

On Tsim Sha Tsui’s Canton Road, there’s a slightly dishevelled band room. Electronic sound gadgetry is scattered around the floor, piles of amps are stacked almost out of the way, and discarded and dated scraps of paper with hurriedly jotted-down lyrics cover myriad surfaces. This is RubberBand’s studio.

For a band that’s become one of the leaders of the new wave of Cantorock, this cramped little space, barely big enough to cater to the outfit’s four members, isn’t entirely what you’d expect. But at the same time, surrounded by the kind of routine junk that fills any independent band studio in Hong Kong, it emphasises some of the attributes that make RubberBand special. They’re a real band who write their own songs and lyrics, and retain that ultimate creative control over their tunes. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but in a scene where bands have been starved of mainstream success, such originality is an important detail.

“People really want original songs. Singer-songwriters have become mainstream again and it was also them who got more people back and aware of the band sound. Bands are also singer-songwriter units,” says No 6, RubberBand’s frontman, leaning on the edge of a rather worn leather couch. “I believe bands are a good choice for those who appreciate original music.”

The story of RubberBand’s success isn’t one of manufactured pop. Rather, the group, consisting of No 6, bassist Ah Wei, guitarist Ah Jing and drummer Lai Man (and originally keyboardist Ngai Sum, who left the band last year) formed in 2004, like any grassroots indie band. By 2006, they had the name RubberBand and later they had a product they wanted to shop around.

“We wrote some songs, were confident about them and really wanted to let more people hear our songs. So we started to look for someone interested in our songs and willing to produce our album,” says Lai Man.

Easy as. They found that person in producer and composer Mark Lui and soon found themselves signed to local giant label Gold Typhoon and recording an album. Their debut, Apollo 18, was released in September 2008, and would launch the Cantorock revival.

“Part of the scene is always in a lost and found situation. We find the missing piece, and then when they pick up this piece, they try to do it,” says music critic Wong Chi-chung of the return of the band sound. “But I don’t think from day one anyone knew that Mr. or RubberBand would be as big as they are.”

Ah, yes. The inevitable comparisons to Mr., the other new heavyweights of Cantrock, who launched in late 2008. Together, the two groups would propel the band sound to heights not seen since Beyond’s heyday of the early 1990s, each occupying slightly different corners of the market: Mr., a flashier, prettier, more pop-reared side and RubberBand, a more urban, gritty and down-to-earth feel.

“RubberBand and Mr. re-activated the media, the radio, the print media and the television. That helped those media to focus on the band sound again,” say Re:spect magazine’s Gary Chan. “To me, I think Mr. is more important for bringing rock to the mainstream but, musically, it’s RubberBand.”

Musically, RubberBand is its own creative director. They write all their own tunes, producing songs that have more of a slow-burning depth than direct, hook-laden, chart-topping potential. That’s not to say however that RubberBand isn’t commercial.

“We want to keep trying different styles. Sometimes we can be loud and sometimes we can be laidback and quiet. Many other bands strike people right away as punk or rock or one typical style. But we set out to do pop music and have been trying to put different elements into our songs from day one,” says Lai Man.

No 6 continues: “We can’t say that we don’t care about the market at all, but we never put that consideration ahead of our own feelings. After all, you never know what makes a successful song,” he says. “Sometimes when you put all the popular elements in a song, the result may not be what you want.”

In finding that balance, RubberBand has thrown plenty of sounds into their melting pot. Across the foursome, there are myriad – and contrasting – influences, with the band throwing up names as disparate as Gun N’ Roses and Boyz II Men, Skid Row and Babyface, as well as Queen. “Each of us has our own favourites, but Queen is one that influences us all. When I see No 6 singing on stage, I can see a bit of Freddie Mercury in him. When I see Ah Jing playing guitar, I feel he looks like Brian May a bit,” says Lai Man.

Indeed, jazz, African, pop, rock and samba elements have all made their way onto their four studio albums. “We are attracted by many songs in other countries because they bring us good feelings, not necessarily because we can easily learn how to sing them. We don’t want Cantopop songs to be equal to karaoke songs,” says No 6.

Collectively, the re-emergence of Hong Kong’s band sound has provided a bridge for the audience to more niche acts, particularly in indie rock. And this is hopefully something that can continue to be honed and nurtured. “I don’t think that the band sound is just a trend, nowadays. A few years ago, it was just a trend, like a sudden pop up, which they can’t sustain. But now, more audiences are learning what the rock scene is,” says Chan.

RubberBand remains modest about its own influence over Cantorock (“We’ve only been around for several years. I don’t think we’ve had the magnitude to influence others,” says Lai Mann), but, even so, they have become a sort of template for making it.

“Musically, not all bands are inspired by RubberBand. But in how they put things together, RubberBand really set a standard. If you want to have success in music, you have to put in the passion, and you have to think about your image and marketing,” says Chan. “I guess indie bands are looking at these things, rather than the music. They still want to keep their own music style – not to follow RubberBand’s style – but how they market the thing, they are trying to learn.”

Bands like Dear Jane, Supper Moment (signed to Re:spect Magazine’s label), and RubberBand favourite, Kolor, are all starting to break through now. But the influential quartet is still widely seen as the foundation around which the scene will continue to grow. Says Wong: “If you’re looking for tunes that can crossover to the mainstream, to sustain and to solidify for the next 10 more years, I think it’s RubberBand.”

Source: Time Out Hong Kong

Offline daigong

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HOTCHA BROKE UP!??
« Reply #181 on: August 29, 2011, 05:26:56 AM »
Hotcha broke up!? Regen, who is on her way to Australia for further education (source: on.cc, Yesasia)


oh we'll miss you weird name girl


CUTE MV!


The Girl Group Curse continues?! Fuck. never heard of em until SHiNee got fangirled(?) by em. some past shit.

HotCha - Shall We Dance, Shall We Love

Release: 2009.11.17

01. 變大
02. 對我有感覺
03. 大場面
04. 井底娃娃(Crystal)
05. 玉子 (Winkie)
06. Cheeky Girl (Regen)
07. 好姊妹
08. 流淚會被感染的
09. 時光之光(葉文輝合唱)
10. Boy Friends(國)
11. 兩個人心動(對我有感覺 國語版)

DOWNLOAD

AND HOT NEW SHIT!

HotCha - 3個人在途上EP
   



Release Date: 2011-08-26   

01. 素顏假期
02. 學習期
03. 三個人在途上
04. 姊妹同途
05. 未習慣

DOWNLOAD

Good luck with your acting/porn careers! :welcome

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #182 on: October 09, 2011, 02:20:29 AM »
Always lookin for some hot new Chinese music! check out Buddha Jump, dark mood rock group! lead by Taiwan singer Penny Tai

佛跳牆 Buddha Jump 同名專輯 Debut Album


release date: 2011.09.23

戴佩妮 加盟種子音樂 首發全樂團專輯
”佛跳牆BUDDHA JUMP同名專輯 ”
破碎是為了讓音樂之路大步邁進 黑暗是為了讓你更加期待音樂曙光!
今年夏天音樂饕客專屬必備 暑假壓軸玩到連佛都跳牆!
全新的創作靈感,破碎自己朝音樂路邁進的戴佩妮,
期待將音樂的熱情,感染給更多喜愛音樂的年輕人
這一次玩心來的!!


01. 罪
02. 失眠
03. 坦白
04. 欺騙上帝
05. why
06. 玩偶
07. 迷宮的鑰匙
08. 三分之二
09. Leaving Now
10. 我對自己開了一槍

DOWNLOAD

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #183 on: January 29, 2012, 01:34:29 AM »
looks like Hotcha got new shit to do! Crystal that is:

Offline julianna

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #184 on: February 04, 2012, 10:28:38 AM »
I really like Jun Kung.

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #185 on: February 09, 2012, 09:02:53 AM »
DUDES! i have found one of the manliest manllads ever. Ken Choi 蔡楓華 aka Choi Fung Wah (who once [noembed][/noembed]) 80s icon now making a comeback.

with is hit JEUT DEUI HONG HEUI


His career flopped after that rant and mainly became eccentric, largely outspoken i guess, but this track is like "Fuck me now Baby" :pimp:

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #186 on: February 25, 2012, 09:07:37 AM »
Check out "Chok" Hong Kong's version of "Swagger like us" :lol: by 林峯Raymond Lam Fong

Offline Pauekn

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #187 on: May 20, 2012, 04:24:04 PM »
Awesome song!





I also found this one:


It's Airi time, bitches!

Offline thatonezombie

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #188 on: May 26, 2012, 04:40:10 AM »
^ That second video my friend, is from S.H.E member Hebe.
I vote for TOZ as the most gangsta~  :otomerika:
[01:35] <shirenu> if it ain't zomb, it ain't bomb
Visit TOZ's House of Hits http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=23639.0

Offline Pauekn

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #189 on: June 19, 2012, 05:51:38 PM »
You can now find certain C-Pop artists on Google+ !


http://www.google.com/+/cpop/


I'm not sure if there are any famous names in here. I must admit I couldn't recognize one single name, but I don't know a lot about C-Pop. I just added some random artists and hope it will make G+ more useful for me! :P


There is also this page called Google+ C-Pop 華人流行娛樂  ( https://plus.google.com/107205921408576852149/posts ). I'm not sure what it's meant for, but if Leehom Wang or GEM joins G+ (yeah right... xD), then I  hope that page will tell  me about  it! :3
It's Airi time, bitches!

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #190 on: July 15, 2012, 05:37:45 AM »
^ THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP! I told you about Sun Yanzi - basically one of the biggest names in Chinese music. She performed with [noembed][/noembed]

Looks suspiciously unofficial tho lol: https://plus.google.com/115416455944221860790 where's a banner graphic? or proper links. OK there's an official check

CHECK OUT! Robynn and Kendy came across them at the Leslie Cheung tribute concert 《ReIMAGINE LESLIE CHEUNG》 and hey - they were on his label Universal so why not. but they [noembed][/noembed] in a sweet pop folk way AND I WAS LIKE NEED TO PIMP! :pimp:



go to 2:59 for acoustic goodness


Robynn & Kendy,香港唱作女子組合。 由Robynn Yip與Kendy Suen組成。 2011年7月開始於YouTube發放改編/翻唱作品, 現為環球唱片旗下歌手。由於Robynn & Kendy的曲風與at17比較相似,因此被稱爲新at17。

more info: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robynn_%26_Kendy
http://www.youtube.com/user/RobynnAndKendy
http://www.facebook.com/robynnyip
http://www.facebook.com/Suenkendy

Let's hire them for our next : robynnandkendy@gmail.com


Offline Pauekn

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #191 on: August 23, 2012, 11:20:39 PM »
A really cute girl :D 金莎/Jin Sha (Better known as KYM) - Perhaps she already have her own thread but I have to go to bed now, so I don't bother checking at the time. Just leaving it here xD


It's Airi time, bitches!

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #192 on: November 11, 2012, 07:40:57 AM »
sorry no thread for you Hong Kong Pop Singer Actress Superstar Gigi Leung 梁咏琪忙里偷闲享受短假,已嫁为西班牙媳妇的她,工作之外也很会享受,SPA、高尔夫球、温泉和下午茶,感受百分百阔太生活。TUNGSTAR/文图视频:梁咏琪婚后自在 SHE SO ...



Offline thatonezombie

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #193 on: December 22, 2012, 04:10:19 AM »
Just found out about Kimberly Chen

I vote for TOZ as the most gangsta~  :otomerika:
[01:35] <shirenu> if it ain't zomb, it ain't bomb
Visit TOZ's House of Hits http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=23639.0

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #194 on: December 24, 2012, 08:54:14 AM »
^ new to me KKOO KOOO ACCHAA she like a super model whoa

how about 尚雯婕  Laure shang wenjie - a muse in the fashion circuit saw her at the NY Fashion Week - as heard on The Communist Show 12月18日,尚雯婕《落日三部曲》之终结篇—《THE DOOM REMIX 未未来》首播。同时,由《VOGUE》及独立设计师Masha Ma为其量身打造的全新造型也同时曝光。标签: 尚雯婕





real rockin type babe... lotsa english in her songs too. so artsy lol


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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #195 on: December 29, 2012, 01:15:55 AM »
hey who likes Chinese Girl Groups???

20E Girls


The SDN48 Ebisu Musicats rip off?? :lol: from Taiwan Sexy female group "20E Girls" is the debut EP "Hello" campaign, all the Spice Girls burst milk, showed off a deep love cleavage 10 Show Girl lined up very spectacular.

 

关关 Mei Mei so sexy

 
「20E Girls」,E所代表的就是網路的意思,網路是全世界溝通最快的方式與平台,而這個E GIRLS組合,就是21世紀,象徵著20E Girls將不受時間、空間的限制,隨時都能成為所有粉絲親密的好朋友。
 
由愛麗絲、睿咩、倪安、關關、Candy、Nina、美希、恰恰、Sunny、糖可可十名女孩所組成的新一代女子團體20E-Girls,平均身高165公分,並集合了性感、清純、甜美等多樣化的特性。團名取為「20E Girls」,E所代表的就是網路的意思,網路是全世界溝通最快的方式與平台,而這個E GIRLS組合,就是21世紀,象徵著20E Girls將不受時間、空間的限制,隨時都能成為所有粉絲親密的好朋友。 so deliciously witty 首張單曲「哈囉」MV -官方完整高畫質HD版



check em out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/20EGIRLS

or the part Korean / all model group Dream Girls with their new EP 《Girl's Talk》 featuring members Tia 李毓芬 Puff 郭雪芙 Emily 宋米秦


new MV!




Tia “甄嬛” is the cutest of em all



follow em on various social media shit:
http://www.youtube.com/user/dreamgirls201103
http://weibo.com/dreamgirls201103
http://www.facebook.com/DreamGirls.fans

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #196 on: December 30, 2012, 02:48:15 PM »
Dream Girls....droolss..李毓芬 totally love her, so sexy and gorgeous!

Offline ghostporing

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #197 on: January 04, 2013, 04:43:04 AM »
yeah....totally agree with hyy~~dream girls......soooo sexy and gorgeous...and Emily 宋米秦 is a korean???

Offline Assman

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #198 on: April 27, 2013, 06:37:51 PM »

歌手張學友與陳奕迅支持「家是香港」運動
Singers Jacky Cheung and Eason Chan speak in support of "Hong Kong: Our Home" Campaign, April 23, 2013


http://hm.people.com.cn/n/2013/0424/c42272-21260070.html

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Re: The Chinese Music Thread
« Reply #199 on: December 20, 2013, 09:21:05 AM »
So Kimberley is dropping an album on Christmas...

I vote for TOZ as the most gangsta~  :otomerika:
[01:35] <shirenu> if it ain't zomb, it ain't bomb
Visit TOZ's House of Hits http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=23639.0

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