South By Southeast: Hong Kong’s Ethnic Minorities’ got Talent

At 7:30 p.m., February 18, doors of the music room at Eaton HK opened up to South By Southeast, a music show hosted by NarratuvesByUs, featuring original R&B, hip hop, and DJ music by South and Southeast Asian artists in Hong Kong.

The repertoire mainly consisted of contemporary R&B, a music style which is popular among teenagers and young adults. Its origin could be traced back to America in the 70s and 80s, with typical features including a distinctive record production style, drum machine-backed rhythms, pitch-corrected vocals, and a smooth, lush style of vocal arrangements. Due to its American origin, it can be uncommon for musicians in other countries, especially South and Southeast Asian ones, to perform and adapt the style to their own music.

South By Southeast gave South and Southeast Asian artists in Hong Kong a chance to break the stereotype, opening Hong Kong’s eyes and ears to a new take on the genre.

Aisha Ansari, a university student who attended the event, felt as if it was only right to have events like this in Hong Kong.

Whenever you imagine Hip Hop or R&B, you typically imagine Western people performing. So events like this is a good opportunity to show that we [South and Southeast Asians] have our own talent”, said Ansari.

Although the music were primarily focused on contemporary R&B, the performers had their own spin to make each one unique.

The show kicked off with R&B singing with live acoustic guitars.

Artist Akxs x Magx’s performance. (Photo credit: Brian Cheng)

It was then followed by some R&B singing that showcased singers singing in both English and Hindi.

Following up were some hype, but also deep hip-hop and rap songs as the artists told their stories of how each song came about.

Artist Suskihanna. (Photo credit: Brian Cheng)

Suskihanna, who started writing rap songs at the age of 12, has been getting her inspiration from her own life experiences, mainly about sadness and anger. On stage, Suskihanna shared her rage on the poor representation of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong on stage.

Just because you put on a kurtha—traditional South Asian clothing, does not mean you understand us”, said Suskihanna.

She also pointed to the issue regarding the ‘brownface’ incident, where a local Hong Kong actor portrayed a Filipina domestic worker, by putting on brown coloring on her skin to resemble that of a Filipino.

Adam Sinclair, a Western Hong Kong artist who goes by Addy X, came to the event as a member of audience and danced the night away until the very last beat.

Addy X dancing on the dance floor. (Photo credit: Brian Cheng)

Addy X enjoyed the atmosphere of the event even before any of the performances started. And as a Westerner, he sees the talent and spirit of the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.

I’ve been attending a lot of events for ethnic minorities and I think the scene is really nice. It’s strong and I think it’s going to grow. It’s like a family, everyone is looking out for each other”, said Addy X.

The show ended with an amazing DJ set, who made live rap and techno music with only a loop station and his own beatboxing skills. It was also the artist’s first time performing in front of a live audience, marking his debut appearance a success, as the crowd cheered for an encore by the end of his set.

Artist DJ Gara beatboxing and rapping on a loop machine. (Photo credit: Brian Cheng)

Mariz Tebi, one of the girls from the performing group $istas, was really glad that the event was organized as it not only gave her a chance to showcase her talent, but also brought a lot of people from different communities together.

I love the vision of the event, and I’m really happy the event was organised because honestly seeing everyone so united and really just enjoying was so fun to see”, said Mariz Tebi.

Mariz Tebi (most left member) with her girl group, $istas. (Photo credit: Brian Cheng)

Tebi also added if she was someone who came to watch, she would definitely want to come again.

Hong Kong has held music events featuring artists from South and Southeast Asian countries before. The city’s annual music and arts festival, Clockenflap, introduced the Filipino band, IV of Spades, in 2018. This year, they are going to welcome another Filipino band, Ben & Ben.

As Hong Kong strives to become an acclaimed international city, it is important that events like these get organized and well-promoted, in order to show that each and every community in Hong Kong has its own unique voice to be heard.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: