As consulted with the Commercial Radio of Hong Kong (香港商業電臺 881903.com), the Cantonese to English transcription of the interview does not breach copyright law.
Interviewer: Jessica Tse (謝茜嘉)
Interviewee: Andy Lau (劉德華)
Interviewer: As we observe the music industry, and we are often interviewing singers. For the music producers or music labels, they are often lamenting that it is tough to run the business nowadays. My response to them was that other than music industry, every industry has their difficulties too. Since we like to talk about the past… they were saying how the music industry was like in its glorious past. For you, the previous Four Heavenly Kings (四大天王) days, the time when you were releasing many songs – do you have some advice for everybody? My point of view is that every era has its own challenges. Recalling the past, has Andy Lau encountered some tough time?
Interviewee: Tough time appears in every era. Take my era for example. Since March 21 (year unsure), we were stipulated to release all our own songs. In earlier years people were doing cover songs, so creating own songs was kind of tough. My songs are mostly self-composed. But when the industry requires all ten songs to be newly written songs, we felt the pressure.
Interviewer: So it became a strenuous task.
Interviewee: Yup. In the past I thought that singing was all about you standing right there and sing – just as what Michael Kwan (關正傑) did. But later on we were required to do the visual part…
Interviewer: Need to dance… Just as your song Clandestine Joy (獨自去偷歡).
Interviewee: Yup, you would need to dance.
Interviewer: So this was your second challenge.
Interviewee: Yup. Because I felt embarrassed when it comes to dancing.
Interviewer: How did you overcome it?
Interviewee: I practised dancing more frequently. That time I was eager to attend Jade Solid Gold (勁歌金曲) programme. When you perform there you need a lot of courage. Not only your fans were attending and watching that live programme, fans of other artists were there too. So when you were dancing you had to act stylish. And you had to look into their eyes. Out of the three sessions, only one was allocated to you. When you were singing, fans of other artists would show you a ‘humph’ face. And you had to suppress…
Interviewer: So you have to please them and face up to their long faces…
Interviewee: Yup. I had always wanted to act stylish in front of them so that I could win some new fans from other camps.
Interviewer: This is funny. What tactic did you use? Was appearing at Jade Solid Gold a sort of pressure?
Interviewer: Greater than you were acting in a movie?
Interviewee: Much greater than that. I remember on one occasion I sang The Days We Spent Together (一起走過的日子). It was very messy, because the live venue was so happening and the audiences were louder than the music. The song starts with piano, and it was easy that you slipped it. Those were the parts I had to pay attention to. When the recording was released, everybody was saying that I sang the song wrongly.
Interviewer: Did you take it to your heart?
Interviewee: I felt unhappy about it. Not that I felt unhappy when people said that I sang it wrongly. My point of view is that in those years, artists were unhappy if they made minor mistakes in their performance. Many artists had this attitude back then.
Interviewer: That was a sort of self-requirement.
Interviewer: So we have come to learn about this challenge back then. We have some difficulties in this era, and back then we had other difficulties as well. Since we are always talking about the old days… back to the Four Heavenly Kings years, was the stiff competition a tough part as well?
Interviewee: I don’t think so. My point is that when other artists were there, it made your existence even more valuable.
Interviewer: A healthy interaction…
Interviewee: If you are the lone singer in the music industry, it is normal that the atmosphere becomes lukewarm. Take Jacky Cheung for example. His fans would say he is a good vocalist, and other handsome artists are not as good.
Interviewer: You always heard of this comment?
Interviewee: That means the fans would stick to Jacky Cheung even more. And my fans would say not only I am handsome, I am also a good singer. It is not all about Jacky Cheung (when it comes to singing). And the fans supported us even more. This was the situation back then. If you are the lone runner in a race, you might not be able to run that fast and far.
Interviewer: How do you perceive music now?
Interviewee: I still wish that we shouldn’t forget that we have our own music. Music – other than melody – the contents are important as well. The words written in our music – they have very lengthy influence. I wish that every artist would put in more effort in writing the words (lyrics). It should be visionary.
Interviewer: Do you mean lyrics?
Interviewer: Through the lyrics we are showing our vision, and something about our Cantonese pop music industry, something about our city (Hong Kong).
Interviewee: That’s right.
Interviewer: Because the contents have lengthy influence. They even serve as a record.
Interviewee: That’s right. Why does everybody feel like music in the past was (better)… In the past the songs presented some words (lyrics) which are in sync with the songs. Not that I have a topic and I wanna tell you through my music; the music prompts me to write that type of lyrics.
Interviewer: So the resonance matters.
Interviewer: Which is why throughout these years Andy Lau insists to write lyrics. Talking with the younger musicians, we heard that they have no money to produce music. It is tough, because of the market. Do you have a word or two for them?
Interviewee: I think that it is tough for you to work on music for a living. But when it comes to releasing your songs, there are too many platforms out there. And music production is cheaper than the past.
Interviewer: Cheaper than the past… music production is.
Interviewer: Is it become easier? Or the equipment…
Interviewee: Equipment. For now, you might go to a studio for mastering. As for other parts, as long as you have a computer and a booth at home, you can do your own recording.
Interviewer: So the cost is lower.
Interviewee: It’s lower.
Interviewer: Should be easier then.
Interviewee: But if you are to sell your albums, if you wanna sell certain copies or units, the conventional market might not be able to provide you that income. This part is tough. Music can only be taken as our hobby.
Interviewer: But how about those who are still working on music? Take it as a hobby?
Interviewee: I think it (the music income) will return gradually. Meanwhile…
Interviewer: You are confident?
Interviewee: I am confident.