BECK, the up-and-coming hip-hop rocker from the United States, is good at producing something out of nothing. His first guitar had no strings on it but his talent helped him to create captivating tunes. His Billboard single Loser was written when he had ''nothing else to do'' - the singer had no idea that the song would one day change his life. But his music is no joke. The release of his debut album Mellow Gold , left music critics singing his praises of the kind of music he created by mingling American blues, rap, folk, punk and hip-hop rock. ''I describe my music as a total thrill of distraction. It is like I use this Mellow Gold to blow the nose of popular music.'' But if you think this 23-year-old youth, part of the why-bother generation, has no admiration for contemporary music, you are wrong. ''The American music scene is great. There are lots of small cool bands around.'' Beck was in Hong Kong recently to perform for one night after which he was to continue this first outside-the-US tour in New Zealand, the Philippines and Japan. His musical roots can be traced to Kansas City and Los Angeles where he grew up, hanging about in punk bars begging bands to let him play in between sets. But his recording career did not kick off until he teamed up with Karl Stephenson, the producer of Mellow Gold. ''Karl and I recorded Loser in a tiny living room with an eight-track recording machine. Nothing professional, it only took us four hours to finish the song.'' But the song was forgotten for about a year until it received airplay and struck a chord with college students in Southern California. ''We never expected the song to be anything big. It was doing well in Los Angeles and we took it from there.'' The Beatles are not Beck's favourite, but the chorus on Loser resembles Hey Jude and the riff sounds like Come Together. It was Beck's first visit to Hong Kong, but there seemed to be no time for sightseeing, although a quick trip to the Peak could not be ruled out. Beck describes his music as totally ''non-serious'' yet ''provocative''. ''The album helps me to reflect the Californian atmosphere. And it seems that I am making fun of the songs in the album.''