Brian Hioe spoke to Hong Kong producer Joi Lau by e-mail about their new release on FuFu Records, “Gaia in Trouble.” The following article originally appeared on Electric Soul, a Hong Kong-based electronic music magazine and ticketing platform, on May 20th.
Brian Hioe: Could you first introduce yourself for readers that might not know you?
Joi Lau: Hello everyone, I am Joi Lau, a dance lover who enjoyed dancing a lot and started going to disco in the mid-80s. After completing my studies, I became a comic book artist and got a chance to publish a solo Cantonese album in the 90s. I was appreciated by an independent record company and was signed as a singer. The company brought in several production units from the music industry, including many talented and popular bands, musicians, and lyricists to create this solo album for me, a newcomer to the music industry. With the full support of the company, I was so grateful that we had accomplished a very good result with the album, having a total of 25,000 copies sold (The Golden Disc).
Personally, electronic dance music has always been one of my favorite genres and I wanted to add this element into my second album, but due to differences with the trend of the Hong Kong music industry, the company thought that it was not suitable and rejected it for the time being. As I am an introverted and very straightforward person, communicating with people was not an easy task for me, which made me feel very uncomfortable with the drastic changes that the music industry has brought into the lifestyle I was used to. I then decided to fade from the music industry two years after.
In 2021, I collaborated with an independent label, Klasse Wrecks. Then, I released my first solo dance album in 30 years, named “3 UR Mind”. Very fortunately, the album received numerous appreciations and grabbed the attention of FuFu Records, who later invited me to participate in one of their music projects ”Double Happiness” and released a single named ”Tony Montana”.
BH: Can you talk a bit about the production process for the EP? What did that entail?
JL: Through the collaboration with FuFu Records, I had learned about the environmental and philanthropic philosophy behind their music, which granted me the opportunity to do something for the society and the Earth, hence the idea of producing this concept album “Gaia In Trouble”.
Our “Mother Earth” has been suffering from serious destruction by its people, and it has reached an alarming stage. Therefore, as a member of the Earth, I hope to remind everyone again of the importance of caring for our Earth through my music.
BH: The EP’s tracks draw on varied instrumentation. What were you hoping to accomplish through their inclusion?
JL: In the process of creating the music, I did not deliberately try to create the music in a certain feeling or style, but rather, like my previous pieces, I would sit in front of the computer and casually look for an extraordinary sample in the music database, then start from there to slowly finish the pieces.
Frankly speaking, a lot of references and samples were used in the process, therefore they did not take too much time to complete. I once finished a piece in only 20 minutes. This was the fastest piece that I have ever produced. It was very fortunate that the music I have created was widely appreciated by lots of people including my friends. One of the reasons is that I am very picky with music, and my ears are very sensitive to music and sound effects! Haha)
BH: Some songs in the album are not typical dancey electronic music productions, such as The Hottest Day, could you describe this a bit?
JL: I moved from the city to the urban area many years ago, as it is more spacious for my dogs to move around, and I bring them out for a walk every day. On a Sunday afternoon during the summer two years ago, I took them out for a walk as usual and when I went outside to the vicinity, I found that all the flowers and trees around were withered because the weather had been too hot for several months in a row.
We then kept walking and not far away, I saw a nestling lying on the ground. Sadly, it had probably died of heat or dehydration from the blazing sunlight. I could not hold my tears the moment I found out it was dead! I immediately dug a small hole and carefully buried this little life in the earth.
I still couldn’t calm my emotions after I got home, so I went to the computer to compose this piece with the emotion that was going through my mind. I then shared it with a friend who was having a live streaming program that night, and he had broadcasted my piece live. The next morning, when I was preparing to leave for work, I was surprised by the weather outside. It was raining heavily, and I believe it was the first rain in months.
Life is wonderful and precious. I hope to encourage more people to love themselves, to respect others, and their life. Most importantly, our earth deserves more love and care than it is now.
BH: There’s an ecological theme to the titles of the tracks on the EP. Would you say that this is an undercurrent to the EP?
JL: I think that everyone living on this planet has the responsibility to take care of it, quoting from the movie Spider-Man. “With great power, comes great responsibility!” would be my answer to this question!
BH: What other projects are you working on currently? Is there anything you would like to say in closing to readers?
JL: In the past two years, before the release of ”3 UR Mind”, the number of my pieces has increased significantly, from 140 to over 600 currently. I have already proposed the idea of collaborating with the previous collaborators (including FuFu Records and Klasse Wrecks) again. Furthermore, after the completion of the “Gaia In Trouble” from FuFu Records, I will be releasing a new album of my solo piece “Without my voice” later this year. The songs for the new albums have been selected. I hope to bring another surprise to all of you!