Adrian Wan talks to Fiona Fung about her journey from the sound room to the stage
A behind-the-scenes singer and lyricist for seven years, Fiona Fung Hei-yee has recently stepped into the public eye, fulfilling her dream of becoming a professional singer.
Having just released her second album, the 26-year-old is revelling in her new daily routine of photo shoots and interviews - tasks that she did not get to do before.
Fung embarked on her musical career 10 years ago, when a friend introduced her to veteran lyricist Comfort Chan Kwong-wing, who liked her sweet and clear voice. He began to commission her to help him with film scores and to sing backing vocals at concerts, often for famous performers like Joey Yung Cho-yee and Twins.
'I was thrilled that Chan thought my voice was nice,' she says. 'I've loved to sing since I was a child, but being a singer seemed somehow a far-fetched dream for me.'
But, after writing and singing more than 200 songs for advertisements, she began to become more confident.
'The more I did, the more passionate I became about music, and I decided to work full time as a musician,' she says, adding that her first job was as a vocal producer for DreamWorks Animation.
In 2003, she had a huge hit called Proud of You, which was later covered by Joey Yung Cho-yee and Japanese singer Emi Fujita. Four years later, she got a record contract and began to make appearances in front of thecamera.
'When I sang behind the scenes, I was in a recording room where nobody could see me, and I didn't even have to wear makeup. Now, I have to buy lots of clothes for different occasions - and I'm enjoying it,' she says with a laugh.
But at first, she admits, she felt 'like a fish out of water' when she had to appear on stage or in front of a camera.
'I've overcome it now,' she says. 'I only have to refrain from going to public places in my slippers, and scrub up well.'
Fung learned to play the piano when she was five and first tried her hand at writing lyrics at secondary school, where she was asked to write lyrics to go with church music.
'I like calming and soothing music. I think it suits my voice well,' she says.
According to her agent, her fans come from all walks of life - students, adults, and in particular audiophiles.
'I'm exhilarated every time I hear my music on the street from people's mobile phone as ring tones,' Fung says. 'I always like to see what kind of person they are, and I am glad they are really diverse.
'I think everyone has scattered threads of melodies in their mind. It's subconscious. And when mine cross my mind, I always jot them down.'