Still / Loud is a new and independent online magazine about music, photography, and culture in Hong Kong. We hope to be a space for young creatives and a shelter for overlooked stories. This is a short mutual interview between the two founders about the inspiration and hopes for Still / Loud.
Wilfred Chan: Okay, so why music and photography?
Karen Cheung: I think it ties back to something we discussed pretty early on when we first started discussing this over Skype meetings. We talked about a vanishing Hong Kong — and with all the changes that are happening to the city, these two art forms become a sort of reference point. Photography is a way of documenting memories, and music is a reflection of a society and what point it’s at.
W: Right. It’s like writing about these two mediums as an investigation into our place and time.
K: So I think when we first started talking we both had this same thought in mind, which was we both wanted to write about art, culture, and social issues, but we didn’t want to do lifestyle shit at all. And in Hong Kong there really isn’t a space for pieces which isn’t tied to either lifestyle or some other kind of baggage.
W: Why is the music scene important to you?
K: So I didn’t start loving local bands at first, I started loving indie bands overseas, I was already really attracted to the idea of people quietly making great shit nobody knows about. That to me is magical.
I never leave the house without music. I remember last year when I was recovering from depression I spent so much time going to shows and each time would just be this magical three hours when nothing was shitty even though everything was shitty. That experience of being in gigs and losing myself has been a better high than anything else. That’s what I want to write about – and I want to write about people who make this possible for kids in Hong Kong.
I know for a fact there are bands that no one knows about and that music writers at existing English publications are not covering. I want a platform for these artists, these creative individuals whose ideologies are so sharp and so distinct, and say to readers, hey, this is a side of Hong Kong you haven’t seen before. This is what we’re doing about art, and it’s not just the surface shit that you see.
After several years of covering the music scene here and the art scene in general, I think I have an opinion on it or at least I have something to say about it. And I want to say these things and I want people who don’t agree with me to tell me why, and I want people who do agree with me to tell me why they had a similar experience.
What makes photography the starting point for you?
W: Other than writing, photography has been my primary medium for investigating my relationship to Hong Kong. Photography is inherently amazing at describing space and so I carry a camera with me every single day — I have one with me right now. It’s my way of understanding how I’m reacting, emotionally and physically, to what’s happening around me.
People’s weird obsessions come out in their photography. If you shoot long enough and with enough intensity, your strangeness will surface. To tie it back to Still / Loud, that’s the kind of work I find exciting. When I see that same process happening among young artists and writers, I feel like they’re going on similar journeys as me. Even if the results look really different, you know? I love seeing it all, it makes me feel less alone.
So I want to bring everyone together into a space. That’s why I wanted to make something as opposed just write, say, freelance articles — I think there’s something special about creating something with people who are very aligned in terms of consciousness and interests and where we’re at in life.
K: It’s kind of funny. For a very long time I thought I was alone. I thought I was always this weird person who was going to these things, I always sat alone, I went to theater alone. Throughout these years it turns out I’ve found people and I didn’t realize it, and they were searching for a creative outlet.
W: At the same time it’s getting harder to find one. Yeah, look at this graveyard of publications in Hong Kong — all these disappearing spaces. Look at how hard it is to write about Hong Kong in a way that’s not boring, and in English. So I love that we’re calling this Still / Loud — on one hand, it’s a reference to photography and music, and on the other hand, it means we’re still writing, we’re still trying, we’re still here, we’re still loud.
Have an idea? Want to get involved? [email protected]