Breaking away from a successful group to make a fresh start can be a daunting prospect, but for So Wai-ting, it proved to be a much needed move.
In 2017, the talented bass player, who often goes by the name Waiting Soul, decided to move to London, leaving behind the much-loved Hong Kong rockstars Chochukmo. He met French drummer Amelie Gerbetis, and together they formed the new instrumental act Waiting No More.
The duo quickly discovered a musical chemistry which earned them recognition in both London and Hong Kong. Despite their relative newness, they even landed a slot at last year’s Clockenflap Festival.
The pair spoke by phone to Young Post about the challenges of maintaining a long-distance band, and the joys of performing live.
“We met while playing together in one band and almost accidentally found ourselves breaking away and forming something new,” So explained.
At the time, Gerbetis was studying at BIMM London, a prestigious music school in Britain.
“She had access to a great rehearsal space, so we took the opportunity to jam together and see what we could do,” said So.
The band’s name was inspired by So’s farewell concert with Chochukmo, which was marketed as “Waiting (Wai Ting) No More…”. So described the name as having “a double meaning that touches on my dream to explore another country and not to wait!”
Although the band is based in London, Gerbetis now lives back in her home country of France. Despite the distance, the two musicians make sure to schedule in time to write and rehearse together.
“We usually create bits of songs on our own and then meet in a practice room to try out our ideas,” said the 26-year-old percussionist.
“We always leave a big space for improvisation and communication when we play. Because the song is created by repetition, we can then play around it, improvising within the arrangement. It’s making music in a playful way.”
So added, “We never suggest changes to each other’s work, notes or beats, so we are both free to create exactly what we want for each song. This freedom and way of writing is different from anything I’ve experienced before.”
This creative freedom has also seeped into their live performances.
“People might think stage presence would be an issue with a duo, but we both have a lot of energy to share on stage and lot of things to say with our instruments,” said Gerbetis.
So, 39, was initially worried about how they would create a big sound on stage using just two instruments.
“I didn’t want to rely on looping everything to create layers. But the more we’ve experimented, we’ve discovered that so many different sounds are possible,” he said.
Gerbetis agreed, saying: “It opens up creativity even more because there is more space for two instruments that are usually not the main focus in bands.”
One of their biggest highlights so far was coming to Hong Kong last year to perform at Clockenflap, as well as playing an intimate show at The Hub in Wan Chai. Speaking of the experience, So explains why he thinks Clockenflap is so important to Hong Kong.
“The location and cityscape backdrop are what make Clockenflap feel different to any other festival I’ve played. There’s something magical having the skyline and harbour around you – the city somehow provides the visuals to the music which was perfect for us,” So said.
“It was great to be back in Hong Kong and to perform for a local crowd again. I’ve been so excited to share our music there, and to get the opportunity to debut at Clockenflap was a dream come true.”
And they didn’t waste any time in the city: the pair made their trip to Hong Kong as productive as possible by spending time in the studio.
“We recorded our next EP there,” Gerbetis said. “It was all so relaxed, which is the best for productivity and creativity. The overall trip was just better than I even imagined.”