Hong Kong musician Eman Lam talks love and why she doesn’t celebrate Christmas
The singer-songwriter will perform three shows as part of the Udderbelly Festival
Singer-songwriter Eman Lam Yee-man, one half of former indie music duo at17, talks to us ahead of her concerts at the Udderbelly Festival about singing with a message and the worst Christmas gifts she has received.
What was your most memorable Christmas?
I don’t usually celebrate Christmas, but the one time I did try, it didn’t turn out well. I was travelling in Europe with friends and we cooked a festive meal in this house with a fireplace and all [the Christmas stuff]. But we got into a heated debate over some social issues we had. That experience taught me a lesson: instead of celebrating specific festivals and occasions with certain expectations, treat every day like it’s special.
How are you spending Christmas this year?
I’m very glad that I’ll be performing three concerts with a four-piece band [at the Udderbelly Festival]. Two of the musicians, I’m not too familiar with, but I grew up with the other two, whom I met back in my at17 days. We used to spend all our time together. They are a reminder of the unconditional love that comes with a strong friendship. We have meaningful discussions and we have fun. I’m grateful they’re spending their Christmas with me.
Why the decision to use “love” as the theme for this concert?
I try to give my audience positive energy in each concert. My last one, at Shouson Theatre, was about self-love and this time I wanted to broaden the theme and explore interpersonal love. Love and relationships is actually one of the topics I write about most in my newspaper column. To make one work, we must learn to forgive and accept another person’s shortcomings. Nobody is perfect. It’s only through learning to accept a person as they are, will you become a better person as well.
How will you spread the message in your shows?
I’ll be singing a lot of my own songs, which I didn’t do in my previous shows. I think my songs fit the theme this time. I’ll be sharing different stories and observations, weaving them in between songs that express the same sentiments. If you give a song context, the way you perceive it will be totally different.
Did you always want to become a singer?
When I was young, my dream was to become a voice-over artist. I’m very impressed by the variety of sounds and voices the artists can create in the cartoon shows I watched. That dream came true after I did the Cantonese dubbing for [Pixar’s animated movie] Inside Out as Joy. She is a very complex, high-energy character, just like me, and requires a lot of power in the voice. And now that my childhood dream has been fulfilled, I’ve moved on to carry out my mission as an adult to create shows that can better the world.
What’s the quirkiest Christmas gift you’ve given or received?
I’m good friends with [Commercial Radio DJ] Yue Dik-wai and one year he threw a Christmas party in which we did a gift exchange using the worst garbage we could find at home. So people brought really, well, useless stuff to the party – expired sweets, half-used conditioner and so on. It was hilarious.
What are some other projects that are you working on right now or for next year?
I’ve invited [lyricist] Chow Yiu-fai to pen all the lyrics for my next album and I’m so excited about it because his musical style – funk and soul – is my favourite. I’ll be writing a lot of the music as well and working closely with producer Fergus Chow, who has also produced for [fellow singers Kary] Ng Yu-fei and Fiona [Sit Hoi-kei]. The album will touch on what’s happening in our society. We expect it to come out in May.
Eman Lam Yee-man, December 25-26, 10.30pm, December 27, 3.30pm, Udderbelly Festival, Central Harbourfront Event Space, Central, HK$400, HK$488 HK Ticketing