Just before Lunar New Year, beauty vlogger Hana Tam and guitarist Egan Chan stopped by Young Post to play a mini set for Live@YP, including a cover of Maroon 5’s This Love and Tamia’s Officially Missing You. The pair sat down for a chat with Melanie Leung afterwards:
How did you guys meet?
Hana: We both have a lot of friends in the local music scene, and we met through a band called 3think. I know, weird name. But I was looking for a guitarist, and Egan was great. He ended up teaching me guitar too.
What music do you listen to?
Egan: My parents played a lot of Japanese rock music when I was young, especially Koji Tamaki songs. I like checking out playlists for cool new songs, but I don’t really remember names.
H: I used to only listen to Mandopop, but when I was in ATV [singer] Fat Mama Maria advised me to open up to more genres. So now I listen to all kinds – English songs, French songs, and even Thai songs. It really does open up your mind and helps with songwriting.
When do you feel most creative?
E: Every day when I go home I pick a movie to watch while I fiddle around with the guitar. Some scenes would really touch me and I’d be able to write some guitar music to go with it, like a soundtrack for that particular scene. Recently I’ve been re-watching a lot of Young and Dangerous films, which are about Hong Kong triad gangs in the 90s. You would never have guessed, but they have some really awesome background music. They put a lot of effort into it.
H: I’m most creative late at night. Or when my period comes, the songs just flow out of me. Seriously. Or when my boyfriend is around, I’m just able to write lyrics easily, even if they aren’t about him. He’s my inspiration God. It’s really important to find a person that inspires you.
It’s not easy being a musician in Hong Kong. What keeps you going?
E: I started learning guitar when I was ten, and passed my Grade 8 exam at Rockschool when I was 15. When I was 15, I began teaching guitar after school. I also arrange songs for radio and TV. It’s almost impossible to live out of making music alone in Hong Kong. But I’m trying to do just that. My grandfather was a musician himself. He played traditional Chinese music, saxophone and he also sang. My uncle’s also a musician. So my grandfather gave me a lot of pressure to be the musician of my generation. But it’s also motivation. And sometimes I confide in Hana and she encourages me to keep going.
H: Sometimes if you have an idea, you need to just do it.
E: Yeah, if you don’t, other people would.
H: One song really speaks to me, and it’s ToNick’s T.O.N.I.C.K. It has a lyric that goes: “I don’t care about the results, at least I’ve tried.” And I remember that lyric whenever I face a massive challenge. I tell myself, I have to keep trying. Keep improving. I stopped learning the piano when I was young because I thought classical music was boring, but now I’m learning again to inspire different sounds in my songwriting. I’m also taking vocal lessons. My vocal chords we inflamed and I couldn’t speak for two weeks, so I really need to learn to take care of my voice as well. We should be releasing some original music this year, so I’m really excited!
Hana, you’re a beauty YouTuber and a musician. Tell us your secret to keeping impeccable nails while playing the guitar.
H: That’s why I gel my nails! They don’t break or fall off as easily. But they still get scratched.
What tips do you have for aspiring musicians?
E: Practise with a metronome on. It’s really important.
H: Don’t reject any song genre. Listen to more music. And don’t think that Hong Kong doesn’t have a space for artists to develop, because you can create your own space.