Hong Kong doesn’t have the best track record for fostering indie music and rookie musicians. It may be a difficult place for bands to find recording studios and performance space, but in spite of that, there is still a wealth of phenomenal local musicians and groups that call this city their home, keeping the budding live music scene alive. We hope the Hong Kong bands highlighted in this round-up can help you discover some new music and expand your library. Have a listen; there’s something for everyone, from shoegaze to math rock.
Local shoegaze quintet Thud has opened for their idol Yuck, played to the Clockenflap crowds, and have recently returned from a summer tour in the UK. Founded by brothers Wang and Wai in 2012 in the classrooms of the Hong Kong Design Institute, and managed by Jane Blondel of local indie label Songs For Children, Thud’s lineup currently consists of Andy and Sky on guitars, Wang and Wai on bass and drums, and Kim on vocals and synth. Their dreamy, melancholic new wave sound is best showcased on their 2015 EP Floret, featuring a remix by Yuck frontman Max Bloom. We think they’ve got nowhere to go but up, and their arrival to widespread fame will be sounded by a loud, well, thud.
Listen to their latest single, Ado, here.
Critically acclaimed and criminally underrated, math rock quartet Prune Deer has a dedicated fanbase in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Prune Deer’s frontman and vocalist parted ways with the band shortly after their formation in 2013, but they’ve only gone from strength to strength, creating music that they say “doesn’t need words”. Blending complex beats, ever-changing rhythms, and atmospheric melodies, guitarists S.F. Tang and Nature Hin, bassist Jerry Sham, and drummer Kwan Shing have two beautiful albums, as well as numerous tours under their belts. Most of their songs are instrumental; however, there are a select number of collaborations with vocalists from Hong Kong and Japan that only elevate their intriguing compositions.
Listen to their latest single, By Air, here.
Up-and-coming indie beach rock project Mr Koo is a breath of fresh air in the live music scene. Lead vocalist and guitarist Ollie Rodgers named Mr Koo for his mother’s maiden name, following the confusion of performing under his own name. After studying and working stateside for a few years, Ollie has returned to Hong Kong and recruited Andrew on bass and keyboard, TC on rhythm guitar and bass, and Fernando on drums to create brand new tunes. Ollie remains the chief songwriter, though, keeping the catalogue up-to-date with catchy melodies and summery vibes. They’ve been showcasing their dynamic energy in the local scene, playing sets at Peel Fresco, Terrible Baby, and The Wanch, and we can’t wait to hear more catchy tunes from them soon.
Listen to their debut single, Big Wave Bay, here.
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Brothers Trippy Kish and Peefs Daze founded Paisley Daze right here in the 852, but split their time between Hong Kong, London, and the rest of the world. Inspired by a wide range of musicians, from The Stone Roses to Skepta, Paisley Daze not only makes new-age rock and roll, but dabble in R&B, soul, hip-hop, and pop as well. The boys are no strangers to the stage, with an extensive list of past performances both here and in London, and their sets are guaranteed to bring the ruckus. They also frequently collaborate with other members of Hong Kong Rock n’ Roll, an arts and entertainment collective focused on bringing higher exposure to local talent as well as other artists from the Asian diaspora.
Listen to their latest singles, Ready to Run and Flo, here.
Indie electronica outfit NI.NE.MO claims they are “your girlfriend’s favourite band”, but we reckon they could be everyone’s favourite band. NI.NE.MO has been a stalwart of the local music scene for years, playing Clockenflap in its early editions, witnessing the chaotic struggles of Hidden Agenda, and opening for big names like Toro y Moi and Tame Impala. Frontman and vocalist Tedman, bassist Andy, guitar and keyboardist Josh, and drummer Fat Lung have quieted down in recent years, playing a gig here and there, and only releasing one (fantastic) song last year. That doesn’t mean they’re idle though, as every song they create and every music video they shoot is reflective of how much thought and care they have put into their work.
Listen to their latest single, Doubt, here.
Twisterella* has had a tumultuous decade carving out a name for themselves and their shoegaze and noise pop sound. Known for their atmospheric live gigs featuring DIY lights and visuals, Twisterella*’s meticulous work ethic and creativity bleeds into their debut album, Seasons over the Years, released this year despite challenges of restricted cash flow and limited experience recording in their own studio. After multiple line-up changes, the four-piece made up of vocalist Karen, bassist Sammer, guitarist Hanes, and drummer Joe haven’t settled into their journey of finding the true Twisterella* sound, and continue to make strides with their ambient and intense tunes.
Listen to their latest single, In Spring, here.
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Not a band, but Hong Kong native and indie pop princess Cheryl Chow, known professionally as Cehryl, is an independent creative powerhouse. Her education at the prestigious Berklee School of Music has allowed her to write, record, produce, mix, and engineer every piece of music she creates. Her breakout single, Side Effects, landed on the Spotify indie charts and put her in the spotlight. After years of Soundcloud loosies and magically-crafted EPs, Cehryl has finally dropped her 13-track debut album Slow Motion, an emotional display of her identity as an artist. It’s easy to get lost in her smooth voice and beautifully-hazy music, as one is wont to do with films like In The Mood For Love that have similarly inspired her songwriting process. We can’t wait to hear more from Cehryl.
Listen to their latest single, Heat Wave, here.
Energetic psychedelic dance rock and synth pop quartet Shumking Mansion is fresh off of a summer tour around Europe. The passionate members are all foreigners who have found a home in Hong Kong and work full-time day jobs: Indian purchasing manager and vocalist slash guitarist Zaid, French banker and keytar player Jem, Canadian teacher and drummer Kent, and Malaysian building services engineer and guitarist Shum. Shumking Mansion’s tunes are fun and upbeat and their love of what they do really shines through, with a cohesive EP reminiscent of a bygone era, aptly named Disco Dystopia, under their belt. The shows they play never fail to get the audience off their seats and onto the dance floor, a goal that the band keeps at the forefront of everything they do. Their imaginative personalities and taste in music shines through in their performance get-ups, apparently “critically acclaimed for its homage to an Ibiza tour group of drunkards”.
Listen to their latest single, Disco Deathstar 2000, here.
DAVID BORING are the self-proclaimed “acceptable face of modern morbidity”. Combining punk, industrial rock, and noise music, DB doesn’t set out to entertain, and instead calls their music and live shows a “complete self-indulgent celebration of new age sufferings”. Formed in 2013, DAVID BORING’s namesake is the unlikeable, detached protagonist of the American cult classic graphic novel of the same name. A fitting name, as this band doesn’t try to be liked, though they have garnered a loyal fanbase, as well as critic recognition for their gritty, bewildering sound, borderline political lyricism, and charmingly turbulent live performances. The band has a powerful frontwoman in the shape of vocalist Laujan, and guitarist Jason and drummer Stan also provide their vocals to the collective madness. Bassist Jonathan is a recent addition to the line-up. They’re looking for a new guitarist, as their day-one Dave (Ah Wa) has recently departed the band to pursue higher education, so if you’ve ever wanted to push the envelope, now’s your chance.
Listen to their latest single, Jane Pain, here.
PHOON is a four-man indie rock band named after Hong Kong’s summer typhoons and changes their sound as quickly as the wind blows (ha, get it?). It’s a delightful experience to listen to their music, as they keep their sound simple and clean, no matter the genre, with just four instruments: Forest on vocals, Sum on drums, Ting on bass, and Lamlut on the keyboard. The members started out as classmates, then jam partners, and have worked hard to now be a band that has opened for the likes of DIIV and Last Dinosaurs, and had several singles hit the Top 10 of local music charts. Their debut mini-album, released last year, was years in the making, though only consisting of six songs. This is because PHOON’s ideas and sounds are always evolving and they love to show their fans a different listening experience on every track they create. Their carefree attitudes towards music and innovative creative process combine to form lively shows that are always packed out with fans, and it’s not hard to see (hear?) PHOON’s appeal.
Listen to their latest single, You!, here.
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