Garlum Lau wants to focus on her songwriting Disillusioned with life as a pop singer, Garlum Lau is now quietly content to take a back seat and hear her music come from other Canto-pop stars. Lau was signed to EMI Music as composer and released her debut album Reach for Your Moon in 2003 when many new musicians of her generation were struggling to get their voices heard. She is now working as a freelance writer and songwriter. 'Looking back, the experience helped me realise that working in showbiz [as a singer] didn't suit me. I realised I prefer to work behind the scenes and pen songs for others,' says Lau. 'A pop singer needs to spend a lot time making themselves look pretty or waiting. Sometimes you might be asked to arrive at an event at 2pm and wait until 11pm just to sing for 30 seconds. 'I knew these were the rules of the game ... but I was put off rather than fascinated by showbiz.' Lau studied criminology at the University of Hong Kong, winning a scholarship to an exchange programme in Japan after graduation. It was there that she started writing songs. Finding herself with a lot of spare time, Lau began playing the guitar. Soon she was writing her own material and recording demos with a computer. One of her songs won a songwriting competition run by Commercial Radio 2 and later became a hit for Denise Ho Wan-sze. Lau's talents were recognised by veteran composer Chan Fai-young, one of the competition judges, who helped her to produce her first album. 'It was Chan who introduced me to the music industry,' she says. But things changed when EMI transferred its local projects to Gold Label. 'I'm quite disobedient [as an artist], and I always speak my mind. That's why musicians generally like me, because I say what's on their mind. But it's the opposite with business people,' says Lau. Lau became a host for an RTHK TV programme in 2005, travelling around the globe to talk about museums or arts events in Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2006 she signed with DJ Tommy as a singer-songwriter. She says she is happy with her life as a songwriter, which leads to a rather carefree lifestyle and a comfortable income. A songwriter receives about HK$5,000 on average for writing a pop song, but the returns could be handsome when the royalties come in, especially when the number becomes a hit and appears in karaoke houses. 'What I want most now is not to publish another solo album but to write a good song that represents me [as a songwriter],' says Lau. Her joyful and laidback compositions are favoured by many young female pop singers, such as Stephy Tang Lai-yan and Fiona Sit Hoi-kei. 'I don't think I'd want to release an album again if I have to sign with a record label and become a pop artist to do so.'