Your most recent EP, Influence, was written during COVID-19. What emotions were you feeling during this time and how has the pandemic shaped this series of work?
I haven’t seen my parents for months as they’re isolated, and I have family in Hong Kong that I can’t see. I also have family in San Francisco who are not only affected by COVID but by the forest fires. Like everybody else, the fact of not being able to see your loved ones and have physical contact with them has created real emotional issues for people. I think this has affected my music in a very strong way.
I did a few live streams for people and one day an audience member fed back that after hearing one of my pieces, an improvisation based on a short story about love, it was the first time she’d cried since her mother passed a few weeks back, and that it had triggered the release of frozen emotions when I started playing the piece. So whether I touch one person in the room or millions, that rewarding feeling is the same, and it is what keeps me motivated to write more mindful music each day, something I tapped even deeper into during COVID.
It’s been a very therapeutic time for me to sit and write non stop. I think of my music as a virtual hug for some people.
Influence was a salute to some iconic figures that inspired you, particularly women. Do you have any other inspirations behind your music that you can share with us?
I’m very stimulated by visual imagery: a beautiful red dress you saw on a little girl in the street; cinema; poetry; adventures; canyoning in the mountains; a day out at sea; white water rafting; beautiful long journeys. I think that so much of our daily life inspires us; a conversation with a friend, a quote or mantra you once heard that you resonated with, so anything that has been stored in my memory bank really, is always a good source of inspiration, as well as personal experiences and the re-telling of those narratives through music ie themes of love, sadness, tension, relief, romance, humour and so on.
You have been posting 30-second clips of new music to Instagram and have received a number of responses there. Did you use any of this feedback to inform Influence?
I try and keep my mind clear because often things can cloud your focus but I’m always interested to see how people respond. What is clear is that more people are now wanting to find deeper or calming emotions in what they expose their ears to.
The song Asia Blue is directly inspired by yourself and your cross cultural upbringing, being Chinese and British. Did you find that your mixed heritage enabled you to more freely explore different genres across both Eastern and Western fronts?
I suppose elements of that must be true. The truth is I feel comfortable in both cultures, maybe because music is such a universal language. I take different things from both of those cultures. And feel privileged to be able to move so freely between the two.
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(Part 2/10) “Asia Blue” From my new EP “#Influence” ~ I find my inspiration in so many different genres. Here I was channelling some kind of #piano #blues, so different from my own Chinese heritage …. & yet not… ? #Music, the Only #universal language. Today, we need it more than ever ? Link in bio Director? @_davidblack Creative direction @candice_lawler
Your work draws reference from a number of genres, including electronic. As a classically trained musician, does it feel unnatural to look across less traditional genres to inform your work? How do you find synergy between such seemingly opposing musical styles?
I don’t think I differentiate in that way. Growing up in a house with one parent playing classical music and the other one playing contemporary pop and rock, I just absorbed all this music. It was only when I arrived at a more formal place like the Royal College of Music in London that these differences were specifically pointed out (but by then, It was already too late – I had already absorbed all my influences! And continued to be open to many different genres). I grew up listening to a wide range of stuff from pop, rock, rap, grunge, heavy metal, and jazz – to me it’s all music. There are some basic truths and rules about music that apply to all genres. If you’re prepared to be open in your attitude, it’s all food for the soul!
Your work spans across a wide variety of mediums, from music and design to dance, fashion and architecture. How have you found your experience in other art forms, such as dance or fashion, to influence your music?
It’s not so much a question of influencing my music, it’s more the fact that I need to bring my music and adapt to the discipline i’m working with. Obviously within that process, certain new ideas make themselves known, and will be absorbed into my thinking for future projects. For example, working with dancers is quite specific, how the body moves, tempo, mood, but if you’re writing for film, you’re bringing a very strong psychological element to a drama. With fashion, it’s really about creating an ambient mood for the designer.
What brings you confidence on stage? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Before I come on stage, I always remind myself of why I’m there. Playing Music is the best way for me to communicate with people. As I grow, I realise more and more how my music can affect listeners in a positive and healing way. Being a musician keeps me alive. At the same time, I recognise that it’s also a duty to contribute back to the community. These values are important to me, that’s why I’m confident on stage. I see the performer and audience as one, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have this mutual energy exchange, also to those who helped me get there, I never like to let people down.
What is the biggest misconception about piano playing that you would like to debunk?
The image of a classical pianist locked up in a room for 10 hours a day – the cliche of ‘how do you get to Carnegie hall – answer; ‘practise a lot’ – of course you have to practise (and I feel I’ve done that bit!) but now, I just like to sit and play my own music, not necessarily other people’s.
What is your favourite song to perform and why?
It depends what day of the week it is, theres so much good material out there! This summer, I met a few rock stars in Italy, where I do most of my summer recordings, and I really got into doing cover versions of some rock songs, which then led me to jazz ballads and songs from the great musicals. But my own solo piano versions of course, it’s been really fun. I like to switch gears a lot when it comes to genres, I love it, after all, it’s all music! If you hear my improvisations, often you might hear influences from Bach, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Nina Simone, Philip Glass, Beethoven, all in one piece.
You have previously mentioned that you are launching a hand serum, Performance by Rosey Chan. Can you share any details about this?
Well, the process has been long we but we are finally getting there. The COVID crisis has in some ways clarified our goal, to make a safe, healthy hand serum to replenish the skin. I have partnered with an innovative Swiss laboratory, using only the best quality, sustainable elements (I’m a health freak and I’m passionate about the environment). I’m using my own hands as a template and I would never put them at risk by using unhealthy chemicals or additives – my hands are my livelihood and the idea for the serum came about because I could not find a product that satisfied my needs. Necessity is the mother of invention! I’m excited and proud to reveal that I plan to launch in Hong Kong!
CreditLead image: Plan C