Emily Chak is not a quitter. “Giving up was just not an option. We had to keep going,” says the defiant guitarist and singer of alternative band So It Goes. The 25-year-old spoke to Young Post about the aftermath of a founding member leaving, and being told by peers to call it quits after a bad performance.
It’s clear that the journey for the three Emilys (Emily Hui, 26, plays bass, and Emily Wong, 27, on drums) hasn’t been easy. Aside from losing a guitarist unexpectedly, the band were evicted from their practice room, had countless equipment malfunctions during shows, and even had part of their drum kit stolen – so it seems fitting that their introspective and gloomy music matches their unfortunate run of luck.
But the trio doesn’t shy away from these tough times. “We believe it’s the bad things in life that really drive artists to create and express,” says Chak. “We can’t change negative things, and they are always bound to happen, but life is worthwhile because of the little moments of light in between.”
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The band’s name came after seeing the quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five tattooed on a friend’s wrist. “There was this intense feeling, and we all knew that we found our band name.”
Chak explains how bands like Radiohead and Warpaint inspire them: “The common thing we got from those bands is how honest they are with themselves,” she says. “There is no excessive packaging or overthinking about whether something will be popular. We can hear fragments of their souls in their songs”. The band applies that idea to their own art: “We want to always be true to who we are, and say the things people feel deeply about, but may not be able to express.”
So It Goes plans to come out with three music videos this year. They recently released their debut clip, for the song When I Dream of Grapes Turning Blue. The inspiration came when Emily Hui met a guy. “She fell asleep while they were talking about world domination, and then dreamed of grapes turning blue,” says Chak.
The video release proved to be a turning point for the band. “In a way, to us, that’s when our band really started,” says Chak. “After the music video, we started getting more exposure, such as show invites and article features.”
As for their live shows, the members flaunted their distinctive sound at the Volkswagen x The Underground Battle of the Bands semi-final heat last month. That was soon followed by their biggest show to date – opening for the Canadian band Braids. The show made headlines when the police raided the venue over licensing issues.
“The FEHD sent undercover officers to the show: they bought tickets and pretended to be normal audience members,” Chak explains.
The officers then told the organisers that they didn’t have the appropriate license to host performances. The police were called and it got heated as audience members got involved. Braids couldn’t perform until much later.
“Braids were very supportive,” Chak recalls. “Their singer, Raphaelle Standell-Preston, encouraged the audience to talk to local politicians so that Hong Kong can continue having a live house for art.”
The band strongly believes that art, literature and movies play an important role in society.
“They explain how we feel in such beautiful – and sometimes brutal – ways,” says Chak. “It’s like finding a long-lost friend, and realising we are not alone. We hope to achieve that through music.”