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"I just want to take a breath of fresh air" | Playing Music In Hong Kong

In my first column (here), I gave a brief overview of the current state of indie music in Hong Kong, the forms general audience, and how the term’s definition differs from the usual notion of “indie music”. Switching gears this time, I would like to look at the situation from the perspective of the city’s atmosphere and environment.


Before anything, we need to take a look at the city itself. Known for its presence as an international financial center, Hong Kong isn’t exactly famous for a relaxing work environment. Actually quite the opposite is true, 10+ hour work days alongside six day work weeks are not uncommon, and these schedules apply to all forms of work in the city. For example, let’s take a look at the work of a waiter. For people who play in bands, day jobs like these are ideal; they provide flexible job hours and are relatively unrestricted compared to say an office job. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really apply in Hong Kong, as the pay is low and the work time here is long.


A serious band in the States can practice anywhere from two to four times a weeks. This is necessary time to be good at something, after all, practice makes perfect. But due to the strenuous work schedule here, there simply is no time for bands to contemplate and get good. You’d be lucky to find bands that have time to practice twice a week, let alone four.


So faced with this harsh reality, it’s no wonder that bands here aren’t able to compete on the international level. That’s not to say that all hope is lost, as the city has seen its fair share of world class worthy music contenders, such as Chochukmo, King Ly Chee, or Noughts and Exes to name a few. But we certainly have yet to see great bands turning up by the handful. Let’s hope the situation improves, and we’ll see Hong Kong’s music competing with the big guns and turn around the o-so-irritating concept that only canto-pop exists here, because it’s simply untrue.





Text by: Edwin Lo







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