Having performed at some of Hong Kong’s biggest musical events in 2019, including the Rugby Sevens and Discovery Bay’s Big Picnic, Sunrise are quickly proving themselves to be one of the city’s most exciting new acts.
This Saturday, the electronic funk duo is set to perform at The Hub in Wan Chai as the openers for Ska Funk Nation, a special event set up by live music organiser The Underground. Also performing will be ska group The Red Stripes, funk-pop band The Funkaphones, and comedy electro hero Junk!
Young Post spoke to the duo about their formation, and their ambitions going forward.
“At our very first rehearsal, we started experimenting with song covers from different pop artists, and each cover became a different genre,” explains singer Mandy Li Sze-man, 17, who is a student at Jockey Club Ti-I College.
Her musical partner, Moses Lam Park-yu, 15, adds, “Our covers are different from the originals because we don’t use the same type of the instruments, and often we will make a new arrangement with the lyrics, to make it sound more energetic, and turn it into a more electronic style.”
Mandy and Moses met through the Ti-I College Rock Band Club. Despite having very different musical influences – Mandy is a big fan of Billie Eilish, Chvrches, Beyonce and Bruno Mars, while Moses listens to EDM artists like Marshmello and Kygo, as well as alternative rock bands Foster the People, Twenty One Pilots and My Chemical Romance – the pair bonded. They soon formed a band and settled on a name.
“We chose Sunrise as a name because our style and sound feels really new and fresh, just like a sunrise – a new day,” says Mandy. “We also try to have a positive approach to things, and give off a lot of good energy when we perform,” she adds.
While Mandy is currently learning to play the piano, Moses, plays perhaps the coolest instrument of all: the keytar, a synthesiser that is played like a keyboard but held like a guitar.
Moses says he needs to do a lot of preparation ahead of a live show.
“I’ll produce a track before a show, recording bass guitar, other keyboard or synthesizer sounds and drums into a programme, and while performing, I’ll use my keytar and trigger these other layers to create a full band sound.” And although their set-up sounds complicated, their early gigs have all gone down a storm.
“The Rugby Sevens and Big Picnic were fantastic shows for us to play, because we had the opportunity to show our music to so many people,” says Moses.
Mandy adds: “We really cherished performing at those events ... and we received a lot of positive feedback, so that’s when we decided to keep going.”
Sunrise don’t want to be known only for their genre-shifting covers, so they have started writing their own material.
“Mandy writes a first draft of the lyrics and then she’ll send them to me. Then I make some demos, instrumentally, and then we try to fill in the lyrics to complete the song, and make any necessary changes along the way,” Moses says.
It’s a process that Mandy is optimistic about.
“I feel we’ll keep exploring different styles and try even more genres so we don’t limit ourselves,” she says.
“I think in the future there is some possibility of making some really awesome music.”
Tickets for Funk Ska Nation are available from www.zicket.com