HK Entertainment News Roundup
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Getting Close to Candy Lo, Pre-Production
-- an article by Kubert Leung

When I saw Issue 536 of "Movie Magazine", I was so peeved. As a music critic, Mr. Chan of the same magazine actually failed to point out accurately the producer of this album ("Get Closer"), going as far as to suggest the heavy involvement of Anthony Wong. This was far from the truth as Wong was only involved in the background vocals on a single track.

As the standards of "music critics" these days further deteriorate, as music criticism is being degraded to an exercise of the "stars" rating system, are music fans becoming less & less discerning? Are they becoming more prone to sitting back and watching such abuse?

The overtaking of the music industry by the success of online music piracy means that we, as musicians and music-lovers, should take a tougher stance against such misleading actions by the media and the press. I can't help but think that it would be much better if us musicians could directly communicate with our listeners through our music, and not through the monster machine of the press. As the producer of "Get Closer", I feel compelled to explain and defend Candy Lo and the concept of the album, and to clarify further its symbolisms and representations.

Don't Have To Be Too Perfect Candy had started her musical career as the leading vocalist of an indie band, and "Don't Have To Be Too Perfect" (her first EP) managed to introduce her rather successfully to the public. We owe this success to Keith Chan and Wyman, for their joint collaboration led to the emergenece of "Trash", long considered a classic. However, what the first EP did was to present a Candy that was borne out of the minds of both Keith and Wyman. In other words, that wasn't the real Candy. The production of this first EP was considered mainstream by the standards of the scene at that time. It was a regret that, thus, with the experiences Candy had had doing music up till then, she did not have the chance to fully express who she was as a person through this first EP.

The success of this first EP, however, consolidated further Candy's confidence in her decision on a solo career after quitting "Black & Blue". On the other hand, without the support of her bandmates and combined with the unfamiliarity of her new working environment, Candy succumbed to her insecurities and often found solace by locking herself up. This was the reason why many out there thought of Candy as being too "proud".

Candy had been learning the nitty-gritties of album production ever since her last record. She wanted to be herself in the next album, and to finally allow her talent in music to shine through. Candy thus singlehandedly came up with the concept of the next album and was the sole decision-maker in choosing the production crew. She also wrote 5 of the tracks.

"Miao..." is the call of cat. Candy wanted to project her love of the animal onto the album and to become one with it. It was the first time that Candy, usually unadept at expressing herself through language, would try to speak to the public through her own words. Lyricists like Lin Xi, Zhou Hui Yang managed to capture the spirit of the cat and transposed them to issues like the complicated relationships between people. Candy also recruited musicians like Carl Wong, Edmund Leung, Ah V of Minimal and Keith Chan to add further value and surprises to the music on this next album.

However, this album turned out to be neglected by the Hong Kong public. The so-called music lovers of Hong Kong failed to grasp the concept of the album; more importantly they did not manage to listen with their hearts to the rich music contained within it. It was thus a pity that the public could not appreciate such quality music that spoke of, instead of an island, a world. As a consequence, we heard little of Candy's new songs on the radio, and album sales were more than disappointing.

Getting Closer to Candy Lo.. Pre-production
We were about to work on the next album. There was a problem: We had to follow up to "Miao"'s sense of individuality, and yet we had establish a connection with the mainstream public. We had to produce something that still had Candy's essence in it, but also something that could hit a nerve with mainstream listeners. We wanted to use this next album to erase, once & for all, the image of an "alternative" Candy Lo.

We had to come up with a concept. For many nights, along with her manager, Candy and I camped in her apartment for some very tedious brainstorming sessions. The experience from the last album told us that the mainstream public simply thought that Candy was too "cool". There was too great a distance between her and the mainstream music lovers.

How could we let them learn about Candy all over again? How do you get to know a person? Our concept, thus, was to encapsulate the 5 senses. One had to hear, touch, smell, see, taste Candy. And thus the concept of the next album.

Rising Popularity
Before anyone else got to know Candy, I had to do it. The first time I heard the demo of this song, I was stunned. I was surprised to hear such a flawless and moving demo from Candy. Candy was humming the notes of the song with a very basic, simple melody and some acoustic guitar accompaniment. She was emotional. There I was thinking: then what does she want me for? But then of course I was needed. I could give the song a new twist in my own way, certainly. ;)

Feel The World
This is one of the very rare cheerful songs Candy has ever written. The arrangement by Adrian Chan fitted perfectly with Lin Jia Min's lyrics. William Tang's outstanding harmonica performance is also worth a mention. Chen Shan Ni, Anthony Wong and Ah V dropped by for a visit on the night of the recording of this song and did the background chorus for us. It was racuous fun. After that we went out for supper, laughing the night away and feeling the huge world out there.

Edmond Leung and Candy's powerful and majesstic arrangement sits well with Lin Xi's undeniably good lyrics. Candy, who wrote the song, divided it into 4 segments, deliberately failing to mark out a "chorus". Every part of the song is equally important to her. This was a little hard for many mainstream listeners to fall in love with as it was something different and alien, although the song has its place in the cannon of the art rock in the '70s.

One Millimetre / I Miss Him So Much
The demo was deemed so simple. To be honest we thought this wouldn't work, but Adrian Chan's arrangement saved it and transformed it into a really touching number. The cantonese lyrics by Zhou Yao Hui were so vividly well-written Candy nearly broke down in the studio when recording the song.

Kiss Of The Butterfly
This is one of my favourite compositions by Candy. For this personal reason, I forcefully claimed the song for my own and penned lyrics for it. On the day of the recording, Candy had had to rush to a TV studio for a show. Upon her return she happily announced that she'd received a diamond for a present. She believed it must be the good luck brought about by my lyrics.

Long Night.. My Love Goodnight
We'd wanted to do a cover version right from the start. With this excuse we went to the karaoke on the company's funds. Candy was in such an unusually good mood that night she sang so many songs. When she came to Sally Yip's Long Night.. we knew we had found the song to cover.

Listening To The Song of The Rain
Another Candy composition. The original demo from Candy was actually much more cheerful, but we felt it was more versatile than what it seemed. The end result was a very delicate, unique number filled with unnameable loneliness.

Silk Road
The composer of this song is Daisy Chui, who was then still in school. I loved the song alot. Candy, too, fell for it after she heard it. It sounded too classical and we thought it would be jarring if we added it into the album, for it would seem out of place. After some thought we decided to make it sound even more classical and to add in some electric sounds. The synthesis proved to be successful.

You Are Too Good
Chen Shan Ni wrote the music and the lyrics for the song, combined with the fabulous arrangement by Ah V. Unfortunately the melody of the song was slower than usual, making it harder to be accepted by most listeners.

I Love The Kitchen
Candy could not really accept the song at first, like many more listeners out there. But we felt that we shouldnt have to take music so seriously. It was an important song for Candy as it was the one time she had to overcome her own musical stands and prohibitions. If she could release herself from such stubborn musical preferences, it would also mean a more mature musical career for her.

La La La
There are 2 versions, with the cantonese one included in Candys album. We spent most of the time taiwan eating instead of recording, actually.

Trash (chinese ver.)
People often compare this to Trash. We hate that, but its unavoidable. I personally prefer this chinese version.

After the album was released, many simply focused on Candys sexy image without considering the link between this new Candy and the concept of the album and what we had to say with our music. I had always thought that art was better left unexplained, in order for there to be a bigger space for interpretation, but no one ever told me that the lack of explanation meant that people wouldnt bother to go to the extend of thinking through what your art means. Do people really take the release of albums as a sort of homework or routine exercise by the preening recording industry? Does that mean Candys hard work in the studio would all go to waste? Ive never met another singer like Candy who would get her manager to push away everything on the schedule just to work on every single bit of the album production. Every single bit of it. She would stubbornly insist on the tone and quality of every background instrument, she would painstakingly pick up the guitar and start playing for the sake of demonstration, to express what she truly means. Sometimes I am thinking, perhaps Candy is too good for Hong Kong. Does Hong Kong deserve her?

written by Kubert Leung

article translated by Shane

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