New Youth Barbershop want to chase their dreams while they're still young

New Youth Barbershop want to chase their dreams while they're still young

Taking their name from an old Hung Hom hair salon, New Youth Barbershop is proud to be a little old-fashioned

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(From left) Showroom Chan, Fat Ja, and Au Yeung look to the future
(From left) Showroom Chan, Fat Ja, and Au Yeung look to the future
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

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New Youth Barbershop
New Youth Barbershop
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

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It's the music they love
It's the music they love
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

They make music and perform regularly, but New Youth Barbershop is not a band.

"We're not singers. We're not crazily in love with music," says Au Yeung Tak-Fai, 25.

Beside him, Chan Faat-hung, also 25, better known as Fat Jai, nods. "I really don't sing well."

Together with 24-year-old Showroom Chan Lit-sai, their third member, the trio is simply "a group that does what we love on a regular basis". Their ultimate goal is to express themselves combining music, words and art - and be able to make a living so they can keep doing it. Au Yeung writes the songs, Fat Jai does their Facebook page, and Showroom makes the videos and graphics. Their songs are created in a simple acoustic style, and address a variety of issues about work, life, and political affairs.

Au Yeung and Fat Jai were roommates while they were studying at Polytechnic University. They seemed unlikely friends: Au Yeung was a brawny engineering student while Fat Jai, lanky and sporting a mushroom cut, was studying to be a social worker. But common values brought them together. "We would discuss our values about the world," says Fat Jai. "Not a lot of people talk about these things in uni."

They used to sing together for fun, with Au Yeung playing guitar. Fat Jai had written a rap about the June 4 Tiananmen crackdown, as well as the Express Rail Link controversy, so they decided to come up with some original songs.

Their first song, To Move (敢動), speaks about the fast-paced city life and encourages people to appreciate the stories behind the objects we see. The pair loved the song so much, they sang it everywhere - in lifts and on public transportation. A video of them singing on the MTR went viral.


It earned them a brief moment in the spotlight, but the group says it's no big deal. "It's nothing special. Hong Kong people just have too many constraints in their lives, so they think singing in the MTR is something to make a fuss about," says Au Yeung. "We just wanted to have fun."

Around that time, Showroom came along. He contacted the band because he thought the graphic of one of their songs on Facebook was very ugly. "The song was It Always Rains on Holidays (放假總要在雨天), and [Au Yeung] used this weather map to go with it," he recalls. "I offered to make it more attractive, so more people would listen to the song."

In 2013, the trio compiled their songs into their first album. But once Au Yeung and Fat Jai were finished with school, they had to decide whether they wanted to stay as a group, or move on with life. At that time, Au Yeung was looking for a job, but Fat Jai was already a full-time social worker.

"I was counselling teenagers, and we'd encourage the kids to pursue their dreams. And I would think, 'I'm not doing what I tell them'," he says. It was hard for him, because he was taught to pursue a proper job after graduation, but he decided to take the risk, and quit. To him, that's already success.

Sure, he says, he earns a lot less than if he continued as a social worker. But he would have missed out on the experiences he's enjoying now, such as releasing the album Not Minding My Business (多管閒事) and performing, including a gig at last year's Clockenflap.

In addition to performing, the group also loves to interact with society. Au Yeung in particular likes striking up conversations with the elderly, and nobody thinks this is strange.

"We're old-fashioned," says Fat Jai. "It's not trendy to talk to old folks, or to quit your job to chase a dream. But that's what you should do when you're young."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Chasing their dreams

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