Music is a universal language that helps connect people, and music producer Eric Lau makes all the right connections. Eric, who works with Hip-Hop and the art of sampling, has been a fast-rising star worldwide. From working with well-known figures in the Hip-Hop industry like Questlove, Erykah Badu and Lupe Fiasco, Eric’s music consistently emerges with innovative styles of production.
Case in point, his two studio albums entitled New Territories and One of Many features an array of tracks with energy that Eric wants people to feel – joyful, connected and unaware of time, as he demonstrates impressive mixing techniques. Music is his expression of emotion. Throughout his journey around the world, Eric returns to Hong Kong – particularly Sai Kung- to reconnect with his roots and family.
Hi Eric, first off, how is everything? Tell us what you’ve been up to lately on your side of the world…
Everything is great, thanks. Been in London doing different DJ gigs, some mixing work and just did a track with Dj Jazzy Jeff and De La Soul.
Tell us a little bit about your journey with music. Growing up, was there a song or artist that got you hooked?
My journey with music has been the best thing that has happened in my life. It has allowed me to know who I am and has given me the opportunity to give joy to people. Growing up I would say Curtis Mayfield’s music had a huge impact on me. He could do it all: he sang, wrote, played, produced music with substance.
How was the music scene for you when you were starting out? Describe your hustle when you were on the come-up.
The music scene in London when I started out was at the end of the physical format era. Record stores were gradually disappearing with the birth of the digital platforms. Coming up I did a couple of internships at a record label and record store. I also went to many music events to establish good relationships with people in the community. During this time, I would make demo CD’s and give them to the relevant artists, DJ’s, A&R’s, managers, labels etc. I feel I eventually became a music producer when I started releasing songs with different artists rather than just making beats.
With the internet exchanging music quite easily, is it hard to stay original? Is there such a thing anymore?
For me, I do not find it hard to stay original. If you are truly expressing yourself then you are being original. There can only be one you.
Although asking about inspiration feels a bit cliché, I feel it’s still necessary to ask any artist. What keeps you creating?
Creation is the ultimate expression of love and I feel that’s our fundamental purpose as human beings. I want to leave as much music as I can for people in the future. Ideas are everywhere, no need to hunt as it’s all around us.
How does it feel to connect with Hong Kong again? Is there anything you discovered in this city that made you look at your art a little differently?
It always feels great to connect with Hong Kong, I feel a sense of belonging and of course it’s always great to be around family. Music production is still in it’s infancy for Hong Kong people so I discovered that it’s even more important for me to be an ambassador for the art.
As you were spending a few weeks here, were there any artists you feel like you got to connect well with or anyone that you feel like you shared the same music philosophy?
I’ve had a chance to get to know the underground music community in Hong Kong and I feel that they all want to spread good music. It’s reassuring that there are music lovers (local and international) in Hong Kong and that it is growing day by day.
When you collaborate with other artists, what type of quality or vibe are you searching for to create a good partnership?
I look for people who know how to surrender to the music and who will do whatever it takes to make sure that the song is the best it can be. I feel that the ability to communicate and to process feedback is critical in a good partnership.
While you produce the music, how do you find the words to match it perfectly?
The music will reveal what words will fit. I can’t say I have ever read anything that has made me say that I want to use them within a song. But yes, I do songwriting occasionally and will be doing more in the near future.
What still excites you about your work and what are you not fazed by anymore?
Every new creation excites me because I love the feeling of connecting with the source. I’m not fazed by being myself in any environment anymore.
We feel like music plays such a big role when it comes to our daily life/key memories. We’re going to ask you to soundtrack a few scenes for us and give us at least one song for these situations:
a) Waking-up: Creator Has a Master Plan (Peace) by Leon Thomas
b) Breaking-up: Optimystical by The Ensemble Al-Salaam
c) Making-up: The Makings Of You (Live) by Curtis Mayfield
What are three things you wish somebody told you when you started your career?
– Find elders in your field and learn from them.
– Never let anyone’s opinion sway you from your gut instinct.
– Understand the difference between art and business.
Looking at the next generation, can you name us a few acts you discovered that we should look out for?
Gwen Bunn, Tennyson, Masego are some new young artists that are highly gifted.
What should we look out for this 2016?
A few remixes, an instrumental album and the launch of my own label called Mastertone.
Words by Surya Urs
Photos by Home Kong