Soulful sister: Mara Measor
Mara Measor adds a dash of Canto-pop to her urban folk sound, writes Rachel Mok
"If Jason Mraz and Regina Spektor raised a child in Chinatown, that would be Mara."
This description of 24-year-old singer-songwriter Mara Measor in her PR bio couldn't be more accurate. She delivers an urban folk sound with an acoustic guitar (and occasionally a piano or a ukulele), a warm voice and heartfelt lyrics.
But the up-and-coming Eurasian star isn't the product of a musical family. Instead, she is the youngest daughter of Hong Kong-based stock guru Tony Measor. As someone who "enjoyed school almost a bit too much", Measor's parents were confused when she chose the artistic path and enrolled in the prestigious performing arts school the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
When asked if there is a downside to being Tony Measor's daughter, she replies: "I suspect he's convinced the best music was written around Frank Sinatra's time, and my style is a little different."
Still, the Measor clan are a loving and content bunch, and the recent launch concert for Measor's debut album at Backstage in Central felt like a school reunion party more than anything. Measor looked as though she was enjoying every second, and during the encore she dedicated Stand By Me to her mother.
But it would be a shame if Measor's background - or looks - overshadowed her musical talent: her bilingual song I Want to Love You was named best performance of 2012 by RTHK's The Works, and she has also won praise from the Indie Music Reviewer website.
Measor is influenced by Bob Dylan, and is a big fan of soul music from the 1960s and '70s. "When I listen to soul music, I always kind of squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head, just to get closer to the sound. I hope that I can give that feeling to people as well," she says.
During the past two years in Hong Kong and New York, Measor has had more than 100 gigs in cafes, lounges, museums and sports grounds - as well as local festivals such as Clockenflap and the Street Concert series - but she prefers intimate settings. "I really enjoy cafes for my type of music, since my solo sound is softer and relatively mellow."
Next is an afternoon outdoor performance, part of the [email protected] Fiori programme. Held on Thursday lunch hours throughout October and November, other indie musicians playing include Jing Wong, Kevin Kaho Tsui and Pam Chung. Measor has a chance to show her Cantonese side to a local audience.
"As a performer, it's important to include your audience's point of view," she says.
Measor, who attended an all-girls school in Hong Kong until Form Five, is a fan of Canto-pop pioneers Beyond, and plans to cover the band's songs Vast Sky & Boundless Sea, and Liking You. "I love how while everyone in the mainstream in Hong Kong was only writing romantic ballads, they started taking on topics such as poverty, war and so on."
Measor has no idea what's next. "I'm not really the type to stay in one place," she says. "I would love it if my music enabled me to travel around the world, but who knows."
Mara Measor, [email protected] Fiori, October 17, 1pm, One Island East, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay, free. Inquiries: 2284 4877