Late last year, Hong Kong newcomers Strange Lives burst onto the local music scene with their self-titled debut EP. The trio showed some meaty songwriting chops, and we gave Strange Lives a four-star review as well as a spot in our Top 20 records of 2018.
Young Post caught up with frontman and songwriter Elliot Wan to discuss the EP, the group's formation, and their plans for this coming year.
"It's all a happy accident," Wan confessed. "Songs usually start as a lyrical phrase, guitar riff, or a synth/vocal hook. I then play around with it for hours, achieving nothing. So I move on and start another track - in the process accidentally writing something that fits the first idea."
Strange Lives was written, recorded, and produced from the comfort of Wan's house.
"The good thing about self-producing is that I don't have to worry about studio time running out," Wan, 18, said. "It's my home - when I come up with a guitar riff at 3am, I can just plug my guitar in, boot up my MacBook, and start recording." Often, Wan will send the basic idea of a song to the other two members bassist Ethan Tang and drummer Ethan Yim (both 17) and they will complete the rhythm sections of the demos.
Wan, who is also a City University of Hong Kong student and who taught himself how to play the guitar and bass up to grade eight, then finishes the songs with lyrics. Often, he writes about whatever comes to his mind. "I try to be as honest and open as possible," he said. "Common issues teenagers face are in the songs, such as finding their identity and place in the world, their self-doubt and confusion, and social isolation. I didn't constrain myself to writing a certain type of song, though."
The trio have taken to the local gigging circuit seamlessly, with highlights including a mosh pit at the new Central-based venue The Aftermath, as well as a well-received set at This Town Needs (TTN). The boys, who all met at International Christian School, say they have big plans for the next 12 months.
"We want to write, record, and produce our second EP by summer, and release it by autumn. We also want to compete in several battle of the bands competitions, and play more gigs and festivals around Hong Kong to solidify our status as a band," states the singer. "Our ultimate goal for 2019 is to take the stage at Clockenflap. It's ambitious, but at least we have something to work towards." Before then, though, Strange Lives will be performing at the City University Band Society on February 1.
When asked how they decided on the band name, Wan told us the inspiration came from the video game Life Is Strange.
"You don't have to fit in with the crowd. You can live a strange life and be whoever you want to be," Wan said. This notion has seeped into the band's 'voice', too. "We want to relay that message to those feeling lost, trapped, or discouraged. No matter who they are, we want to inspire and relate to our audience. Whether it's through our music, lyrics, or beliefs, we hope that those who listen to our music can find the place [that they want] to be."