Chung Cher, Actress And Lyricist
Chung Cher is a free spirit. “I can give you some very pretentious answers”, she says during her interview. But she doesn’t. Perhaps her frankness is the rising actress’ best weapon in her quest into the film industry.
The 27-year-old, who only made her big screen debut last year, has appeared in several local films and was nominated for Best New Performer and Best Supporting Actress at the 40th Hong Kong Film Awards for her role in the 2021 film Time (殺出個黃昏). She has made a name for herself as actress Suet-Ying Chung and is starring in three movies set to release this month.
Like the other creatives we interviewed, Chung has multiple identities. She is both actress Suet-Ying Chung and lyricist Chung Cher. When asked how to address her, she immediately replies, “A person who works in film.” What about lyric writing? “Lyric writing is my life.” At the end of the day, film is what she wants to pursue most. “Even when people stop casting me for films one day, I can still prepare the refreshments on set.”
Then what does being a muse mean to Chung? She first tells the story of the nine muses of ancient Greek mythology and shares that she thinks a muse represents beauty. She recalls, “Since I was young, I’ve always troubled by why I was interested in everything and easily envied certain traits in certain people.” She continues, “Since interpreting the meaning of a muse this way, it has changed the confusion I have always felt. To me, everyone can find something beautiful in a muse.”
For her muse, she chose Japanese actress Fumi Nikaido. Although Chung grew up surrounded by movies, she recalls exploring different interests as a student. She shares, “I was very indecisive about what I wanted to do, but luckily I found a young girl my age in a different part of the world who was very determined, bold and loved films in her own way.” Looking at Nikaido, she found her determination to become an actress.
Working in film is Chung’s dream, and she cherishes every role she’s offered. “It takes years for a director to develop a script and prepare a production, so when a director thinks of me and invites me to play a role, I feel very lucky.” She admits that she has never thought of becoming “someone else’s Fumi Nikaido”. Nevertheless, she finds it interesting when people discuss her work. She explains, “Because oftentimes creation does not necessarily stem from something meaningful, it might just be for fun.”
In a time when everybody believes in the law of attraction, Chung firmly believes in “the law of non-attraction”. “Things have a way of developing. What is meant to happen will happen. If you create something with the thought that it must be successful, or if you must become someone’s muse, then there is no fun.” In the future, Chung wants to let nature take its course and hopes to stay friends with cinema. She ends her interview with the lyrics of “閃念” by the musical duo per se: “Is living another day a gift? You and I believe in this step of change.”
Ka Lai, Singer-Songwriter
The name Ka Lai might be unfamiliar to you, but she has already made her mark in the underground music scene. From composing, lyric writing, and rap writing to music video production, Ka Lai takes a hands-on approach in all aspects of her work. With her mesmerising deep tone and charismatic personality, she has become one of the most noteworthy new-gen female vocalists in Hong Kong today.
Kai Lai has loved singing since she was a child. After experiencing a low point in her life two years ago, she accidentally wrote a breakup love song called “End of the Story”, which garnered praise online. This encouraged her to continue creating music and marked the start of her journey to becoming a singer-songwriter.
The theme of this issue is “muse”, a word that Ka Lai defines as inspiration, the starting point for all things. A few years ago, she was searching for her own musical style and was troubled by her deeper voice. Taiwanese singer 9m88 became Ka Lai’s muse, and she was inspired by 9m88’s work. “9m88 helped me explore ways to utilise my low voice and make good use of it across different music genres to create a unique style that belongs to Ka Lai.”
Ka Lai puts her thoughts and feeling into her songs and writes “a diary” through music. From “Firefly” to “This Is Our Time”, she sees every song as a record of her growth because she believes “your music must heal you first before it can heal others” While she admits her lyrics are not profound, her words describe her feelings in such a raw and authentic manner and touched the hearts of fans and listeners alike. Unknowingly, she became other people’s muse. She recalls, “During an Instagram live broadcast, a viewer commented that the songs I had written inspired him to paint because he could relate to the story.” Positive and constructive feedback from her audience motivates Ka Lai to keep on creating. She says, “If I can could the world, the first thing I would do is elimnate the hatred people carry with them for no reason.”
Ka Lai leaves a deep impression on her audience with her powerful and infectious live performances. She laughs, “Sometimes, I fall in love with the version of myself on stage!” As for her future plans? The 24-year-old says she’s not in a hurry to become famous. Instead, she only hopes that she will never forget why she started and hold on to her passion for music until she grows old.
Heidi Haha, Multimedia Artist
Like the rest of the new generation, Heidi Haha is an active member of the digital world. She’s a multimedia artist, an animator, a jewellery designer and a soloist. On the day of her interview, she excitedly reveals that she is adding a new identity to her list: DJ.
Curious, a little crazy and a little romantic is how Heidi Haha describes herself. Unlike her social media persona, Heidi is a bit shy in person. She laughs, “I’m quite introverted, so I have a lot of internet friends!” On the internet, Heidi discovered those on the same frequency as her and opened new doors for herself. Her online animated works received recognition, and she was invited to produce the animation for the music video of Filipino-British rock singer-songwriter BeaBadoobee’s “Talk”.
“Animation brings imagination to life and makes dreams come true.” When Heidi was first introduced to animation, she was attracted by its infinite creative possibilities. She says, “You can really create anything you want!” Never confined to a box, Heidi has extended her creativity to her jewellery project, “Re-attach”. As someone who has never received formal training in accessory design, she sees 3D animation as a form of creation. Using software, Heidi Haha builds her world on her dainty rings.
A virtual character resembling Heidi appears from time to time on her social media — Heidi introduces this avatar as her alter ego, Iffy. Like many artists, Heidi’s work is emotionally driven, and she recalls creating Iffy to express her emotions. “I initially used Iffy to express some very painful thoughts. To my surprise, I received responses from strangers worldwide, saying that my work inspired and resonated with them.” It was at that moment that she realised she wanted to call herself a “multimedia artist”, one that allowed different people to understand and experience her artwork in its various forms from their perspectives.
On her creative journey, Heidi has come across many muses that inspired her. If she had to choose one, she would pick Icelandic singer-songwriter, Björk because Heidi experiences something new every time she listens to Björk’s music. “I admire how she creates a new way to look at this world and insists on doing so in her way. Even at the age of 56, she still has a youthful mentality.” In Heidi’s words, “A muse is the embodiment of a spirit that resonates with people.” And like the eccentric Björk, Heidi Haha will continue to resonate with others in her own way through animation, music, jewellery and future VR projects.
Dorothy Lau, Art Director, Stylist, Singer-Songwriter, Director And Fine Art Artist
The word multihyphenate perfectly describes the talented Dorothy Lau, an art director, stylist, singer-songwriter and director in her own right. Since returning to Hong Kong from Australia, the 25-year-old has worked on several local music videos and has made a name for herself in the industry, where people call her “Sister Dor” (Dor 姐). This year, she added soloist to her list of identities.
Dorothy’s career is all about finding inspiration. For her, inspiration is everywhere. It comes from repressed emotions within her, or it can be moments and memories from her daily life, which she collects and accumulates, allowing inspiration to come to her over time. When we asked her to describe her idea of a muse, she says, “A muse should be an existence that exudes charm from within.” It just so happens that Dorothy has the same trait.
Passionate about art and having studied abroad at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology for her MA in Fine Art, her studies have undoubtedly inspired her creative path. During the interview, she recalls seeing an exhibition by contemporary artist Cindy Sherman in Brisbane a few years ago. Instantly drawn to Sherman’s work, Dorothy had found her muse. She shares, “I admire the way Sherman uses herself as a medium to portray shape different identities through performance.” Cindy Sherman was the one who inspired her to pursue performing arts.
Having made a name for herself as an art director and a stylist, Dorothy has received a lot of positive feedback on her work. However, she’s never thought of herself as someone’s muse but hopes to use her expressive work to influence others. “I hope that as my work matures, I can inspire more people,” she says.
Dorothy had been passionate about music long before she pursued a career behind the scenes. Creating music was the real reason she came back to Hong Kong. “I thought it was time.” After gaining experience behind the scenes, she decided to step into the spotlight and become a singer-songwriter. For her, this just means “getting back into business.”
After bringing us two singles, “綠野仙蹤” and “(dis) honesty.”, this year, Dorothy revealed that she is currently working on her third single. In the future, she will still be working as an art director, stylist and artist at the same time. She shares, “Having multiple identities is integral to who I am, and I’m proud of it. I think my creations are fluid and interchangeable, and I believe that art direction, styling and musical creation and inspiration can all be mutually inspiring and influential.” Because to Dorothy, they all allow artistic expression — just in different ways.
Translated by Kaitlyn Lai
CreditPhotography: Jac Chung