13 New Voices of Hong Kong that Must Be Heard
HONG KONG SAR - 16 May 2022 - Now in its fifth year, the "Ear Up Incubation" music mentorship programme reached another milestone for the local music industry when 14 Hong Kong based groups were chosen as finalists in the long-awaited Ear Up Music Festival in April 2022.
Along with local rock band, Kolor and independent singer-song writer, Kendy Suen, the 13 rising musicians among the finalists delivered their best to the live indie music lovers.
Covering a variety of music genres, the groups took five major awards including the "Ear Up Grand Prize", the "Ear Up Creativity Award", the "Ear Up Performance Award", the "Ear Up Audience Award" and the new "Ear Up Branding Award".
13 groups rocked the stage
Despite the continuous challenges created by the COVID-19 situation, a year-long training programme concluded with the 13 groups among the 14 finalists displaying their talents at the Festival which was held in the Macpherson Stadium.
1. BEAT FRIDAY
2. Bedroom Party
5. FIESTER(Unfortunately, FIESTER not on show because of other arrangements.)
6. Higgo Raj
7. Kowloon K
8. Lester Lam
9. Nervous System
10. Project "Narratist"
12. Tofu Kingdom
13. Uchu Yurei
14. Yuki Lovey
Female dominance evoked haunting charms
The power of the female voice could not be overlooked in this year's "Ear Up Incubation" programme. In a diverse range of music, the female voice opened up new possibilities. Combining heavy metal and electronic elements with Cantonese songs, FIESTER delivered a colourful style of music to music lovers. DAWN saw music creation as a vast and unknown sound adventure, taking into account the song's composition, and bringing an alternative colour side to Cantonese songs. CHOR sang in a psychedelic atmosphere, leading the audience into the music and into another place where they could feel the message and be genuinely moved. Growing up in music, Yuki Lovey used piano elements from everyday sounds such as metal parts, glue, wood, water and typing to explore themes like personal growth, suffering, and the relationships between people to deliver healing effects to busy urbanites.
Unique styles from new bands
Indie band sounds are the soul of Ear Up Music and fans enjoyed alternative rock, electronic, metal, fusion, jazz-pop, neo-soul, R&B, rap and dream-pop in Cantonese, English, Mandarin and Japanese songs.
Uchu Yurei brought progressive rock, jazz-fusion, Japanese film soundtracks, and classical music into their musical universe. Project "Narratist" told stories using notes and rhythms that blended jazz, rock, and classical music to create a pleasant and profound sound journey for the audience, while RAM provided the audience with an alternative rap rock music experience. The Kowloon K wrote songs with improvisational elements of the instrument and were constantly experimenting with new possibilities by combining city-pop and jazz-pop. Inspired by jazz-pop, soul and funk punk, Nervous System surprised the audience with its diversity of music. With dream-pop and shoegaze as their main music backbone, Tofu Kingdom provided fans with another musical experience through their indie-pop style paired with fantastic and exciting music videos.
Wandering between the electronic music of hip hop, electro, trip and house, the duo BEAT FRIDAY showcased unique music and visual in their performance. While Bedroom Party created rhythmic and dreamy music using the computer's digital music workstation software in their bedrooms.
The 'big chaos' music style of Higgo Raj blends R&B, EDM, disco, hip hop, and more in a rhythmic musical journey. While Lester Lam incorporates pop music, R&B and indie into his singing and writing.
The Award Winners
Uchu Yurei, a progressive and instrumental band, offered an impressive music performance and won the "Ear Up Grand Prize". The city pop representative Kowloon K got the "Ear Up Audience Award" and was the online live viewers' the clear favourite. Higgo Raj was the winner of the "Ear Up Performance Award" who showed his music passion with his talented band. "Ear Up Creativity Award" went to BEAT FRIDAY, who demonstrated an innovative combination of music and visual content. Lester Lam, the singer-songwriter, was the winner of the new "Ear Up Branding Award".
From Music to Moving Images
This year, Ear Up Music has created a limited edition of the vintage cassette Mixtape album, EUM001: ups and downs, with 12 selected songs from the finalists.
Five newly created music videos with the latest XR techniques demonstrated the originality of the new generation. Besides, Director Eric Tsang has been invited to create a mini drama with the inspiration of music by the finalists.
Fostering new Hong Kong music: Ear Up +
Ear Up Music is a music label that was tasked by the Renaissance Foundation Hong Kong to develop a sustainable and diverse music ecology in the city and nurture rising young music stars. Sponsored since 2016 by Create Hong Kong (a Government unit that aims to develop Hong Kong into a regional creative capital),the label created the "Ear Up Incubation" programme to spotlight new music in Hong Kong and in neighbouring regions and beyond.
Apart from dedicated small group mentorship sessions, the programme also includes a series of performance workshops and international forums for young musicians to enhance their live performance skills, understand the latest industry trends and discover potential collaboration opportunities. Live house showcases and school showcases are also arranged for incubatees to gain performance experience and build up a fanbase. All the incubatees are selected through an open recruitment and audition process organised by Ear Up Music.
This year, "Ear Up Music" has evolved again - the "Ear Up Music Incubation Programme 2022/23: Ear Up +" has been released. "Ear Up +" is openly recruiting 18 original music groups with market potential. The selected candidates will receive training and production and market development subsidies of up to HK$450,000. The programme will also hold a music festival for them to introduce the rising voices of Hong Kong to the public.