An Interview with Composer Elliot Leung

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To call Elliot Leung an overnight sensation would be incorrect, as it would be ignoring several years of praised work in video game, advertisement and documentary music. And yet there is indeed something meteoric about his arrival in the A-List of Chinese film composers: his thrilling score for Dante Lam’s spectacularly successful Operation Red Sea – now second only to Wolf Warrior II on the list of highest-grossing movies in China and still the fifth highest-grossing film worldwide for 2018 – marks the beginning of a promising big screen career, with no less than four high-profile films already on his dance card. A busy schedule in spite of which he graciously agreed to answer our questions.

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An Interview with Composer Dave Klotz

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Gemini-nominated composer Dave Klotz is one of the prized “guests from the West” in the Hong Kong film industry. Much like Xavier Jamaux, he’s an international composer whose talents Johnnie To and his Milkyway Image partners have called upon repeatedly, often alongside Guy Zerafa (before his untimely death). Among other achievements, it could be said their score to Exiled is an integral part of that film’s artistic success, and one of the most memorable of its decade in Hong Kong. A performer, an arranger and a music producer in addition to being a composer (for film but also for TV and for dance choreography), Klotz also struck up a lasting professional relationship with the great Ringo Lam, right up to his latest film, Sky on Fire, now out in China and the US. He graciously agreed to answer our questions.

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An Interview with Composer Wong Kin Wai

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Breaking into the film music business in China and Hong Kong isn’t easy. The A-list of Chinese film composers is a short and exclusive one that gets most of the high-profile assignments, with the rest often going to seasoned foreign composers. And yet in just a few years, Wong Kin Wai has managed to go from composing TV jingles to creating his own company, Fun Track Music ltd, and scoring one the biggest Chinese films of the 2016 summer: Benny Chan’s Call of Heroes. No wonder, he’s a versatile and ambitious new musical voice, one that will most probably be heard more and more in the coming years in the fast-expanding Chinese film industry.

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An Interview with Composer Chan Kwong Wing

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In the twenty-two years since the beginning of his film music career, Chan Kwong Wing (also known as Comfort Chan) has scored more than seventy films and won three Hong Kong Film Awards, not to mention fourteen additional nominations. A true mainstay of the Hong Kong film industry, he’s also been shepherding aspiring and fledgling composers through his music studio Click Music Ltd, as well as being the record producer of Ekin Cheng, Pakho Chau and Fiona Fung, to name but a few. Simply put, if you love Hong Kong and Chinese cinema, whether or not you know his name, you know his music.

Where to begin when sampling the superb creativity and versatility of one of the most prolific and talented composers in film music? The iconic, mournful elegy to Anthony Wong’s character in Infernal Affairs? The thumping, single-minded call to duty and danger of Infernal Affairs 2? The insidious whirls that accompany Andy Lau’s psychological downfall in Infernal Affairs 3? For indeed, the Infernal Affairs trilogycould be considered Chan Kwong Wing’s masterpiece. Equally iconic is “Store The Sun“, the brutal yet ethereal piece that accompanies Donnie Yen and Wu Jing’s duel to the death in SPL, or the edgy electro and middle-eastern tones of the Flashpoint soundtrack. Some of his best work also includes Confession of Pain with its quietly heart-wrenching piano theme, the irrepressible bombast of Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, the tragic sprawl of A Man Called Hero, the tense, anguished strings of Overheard, the grand melodrama of its sequel, or another one of his masterworks, the quirky and brooding Wu Xia (co-composed with Peter Kam and Chatchai Pongrapaphan). And that’s only scratching the surface.

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An Interview with Composer Xavier Jamaux

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A seminal figure of ‘French house’ music, Xavier Jamaux has been building an excitingly eclectic, quietly international and refreshingly unplanned career for twenty years. And he speaks of this career with a sparkle in his eye and unassuming enthusiasm more befitting a passionate music student than an artist of his stature. One of the strings to his bow is film music: in France, but more notably – at least for us – in Hong Kong, where he’s been a prized collaborator of Johnnie To’s production company Milkyway Image for almost a decade, also working with Soi Cheang and Wai Ka Fai in the process. From 2007’s Mad Detective to this year’s Three, his eight Hong Kong scores have brought an unmistakable yet versatile French touch to the poetic gunplay, psychological webs and/or romantic ballets of Milkyway Image’s films. Having just released an addictive compilation of his film music works – aptly titled Music for Films – the man who is also known as Bangbang graciously agreed to meet Asian Film Strike for an overview of his Hong Kong career.

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An Interview with Composer Leon Ko

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Leon Ko Sai Tseung’s lineage seemed to predestine him to writing music for stage and film: the son of legendary Hong Kong actress Lucilla You Min – who won ‘Best Leading Actress’ at the first ever Golden Horse Awards – and the grandson of Cantonese Opera artist (and occasional silent film actor) Bak Yuk Tong, his career as a composer of Cantonese musicals has been rich in awards and popular acclaim, with all of his four creations, The Good Person of SzechwanThe Legend of the White SnakeField of Dreams and The Passage Beyond, having won best score at the Hong Kong Drama Awards. This, in addition to being a driving force in the recent revival of Cantonese Opera and an occasional musical director for Jacky Cheung’s  world tours. Ko’s works have travelled as far out of Hong Kong as London’s London’s Stratford East Theatre and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

That’s not even mentioning his career in film scoring, which is the topic of the following interview, and equally successful as his other musical ventures. After only eight film scores – for major directors like Peter Chan, Derek Yee or Dante Lam – Leon Ko is already a Golden Horse Award winner and a two-time Hong Kong Film Award winner, with four additional nominations. You can sample his work for film and stage at his website. You might be struck by Leon Ko’s versatility: there’s a world of difference between the atonal thrills of That Demon Within and the epic whimsy of Monster Hunt, or between the lyrical anguish of Dearest and the old-school playfulness of The Great Magician. Now as busy and in-demand as ever, he nevertheless graciously agreed to answer my questions.

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An Interview with Composer Anthony Chue

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A three-time Golden Horse Film Awards nominee, composer Anthony Chue has worked with some of the biggest names in the Hong Kong film industry, including Derek Yee, Wilson Yip, Law Chi Leung, Ivy Ho, Herman Yau, Jeff Lau, Benny Chan, Patrick Leung and Ann Hui. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, he’s also made a name for himself as one of the most sought-after arrangers and keyboardists in Cantopop, becoming a regular collaborator of Aaron Kwok, Vivian Chow, Sammi Cheng and Jacky Cheung among others with whom he’s been touring the world for over a decade.

You can sample his work for films, Cantopop and concert halls on his website, and here are a few questions he graciously agreed to answer.

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An Interview with Composer Henry Lai

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In the twenty year since his film music debut in 1994, Henry Lai Wan Man has secured a firm spot on the short A-list of Chinese film composers, next to fixtures like Chan Kwong Wing or Peter Kam. A four-time Hong Kong Film Awards nominee, his talents have been sought by some of the most high-profile directors in China and Hong Kong, including Dante Lam, Daniel Lee, Mabel Cheung, Alex Law, Gordon Chan, Felix Chong and Alan Mak. And rightly so : his scores show a great versatility, an ability to adapt to different genres and to integrate illustrious musical influences (Ennio Morricone, John Barry, Hans Zimmer…) while never forsaking his own style.

For a primer of Henry Lai’s talents you can listen to his rousing, heroic theme for 14 Blades, the wistful and folkloric “Paddy Field Song” from The Lost Bladesmanthe heartbreaking lament for Nick Cheung’s character in The Beast Stalker, the driving investigation theme from The Four, the triumphant Russian-flavoured training music in Star Runner, the tense, pulsating action music from The Sniper, the touching, delicate score for Echoes of the Rainbow, the Morricone-inspired music in A Fighter’s Blues, the ominous main titles cue from Fire of Conscience, the gripping percussive music (one of Lai’s specialties) of White Vengeance, or the gloriously epic main theme of Three Kingdoms : Resurrection of the Dragon.

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