Artists / Bands, Dance / Electro, Interviews, Releases — October 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Interview: Choi Sai Ho (HK)


Most things fade in time, and musical instruments are certainly no exception. It is for this reason that Violinists are often reminded of their place in the music industry – either as assets to the preservation of classical symphonies, or as a knee-slapping addition to the average barnyard folk band. Generally speaking, solo Violinists are somewhat limited. It takes a brave artist, then, to consciously take an instrument as hallowed and ancient as the Violin, and to twist the boundaries of it’s pigeonholed sound by playing with technology; rebirthing a multitude of genres in the process of creating one. Hong Kong born solo musician Choi Sai Ho, who is appearing in the SEA Absolute Indie Compilation, has become a mastery of modernizing the uniquely classical, enthralling fans and pushing musical margins as he expands his catalogue across the Asia Pacific region.

What was the reason for branching away from traditional forms of classical violin? Do you feel you are able to express yourself more fully by incorporating electronic instruments and modern musical influences?
To me, violin is just a tool to express music – like an artist and a paintbrush. The purpose of electronic music is to invent new, alternative sounds. It widens the choice for musicians and composers when making music or sound-art. Computers (and audio software) are a very good platform nowadays for electronic musicians to perform and construct their music. Playing and appreciating the sound of traditional instruments is no longer the only option for performers; nor is it the only option for audiences. I’m not only creating music, I’m also an audio-visual artist; I make videos for my music, and present my music with visuals during live performances. This is so I can express my ideas not only to ears, but to eyes as well.

What do you think when people compare you to fellow violin enthusiast/composer Steve Reich? Is this what you were going for?
(Laughs) I didn’t think much of that comparison, really! Most of my works, my performances, are more than just violin composition; my works closely reflect the key elements of my favorite music genres. Personally, I don’t make any comparisons with other famous composers or musicians. I do like Steve Reich, but I am also influenced heavily by Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, John Cage, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Venetian snares, Amon Tobin, Danny Elfman, Brian Eno, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, DJ Shadow, Nine Inch Nails, Massive Attack, Radiohead, Daft Punk, Depeche Mode, and many more. They all influence me a lot in terms of making music. Each musician should be unique on some level. Of course, I don’t mind these comparisons – I cannot stop what the public (if I’m that famous!) think about my music, and I certainly like that I am so easily compared to these others!

When do you feel the most inspired; the most creative?
I like being conscious. I mean…when you just wake up, when your brain and your mind are in a fresh status, and you start thinking things. I like this condition. I don’t like is being too tired, too sleepy or too dizzy and you still have to work. That’s always a really a bad situation!

What have been your best and worst performing experiences?
Both are too many to tell. Simply, it’s hard to control for some factors during a live show; often, the success of a show comes down to the people you’re working with! People have said some disrespectful stuff to musicians involved in shows, and this affects the mood. On the other hand though, the best performing experience may be that you’re lucky to work with some genuinely nice people. The audience might like your performance very much, and it shows in the applause.

Do you feel at home in the Hong Kong music scene? Where would be your ultimate place to perform?
I like Hong Kong, and it is definitely my home. I definitely don’t feel unwelcome in the Hong Kong musical scene. The music that I play mostly is instrumental, and that alone gives me a good platform to perform overseas, because my music is not limited by language of the lyrics. I hope, one day in the future, I can perform in places like USA, or European countries, on some bigger public channels where people can truly listen to my music, or watch my performance. It takes time and it’s not an easy step to achieve. So, for the moment…I will continue my hard work! (Laughs)

What do you feel you can bring to the SEA Absolute Indie Compilation that other bands from the region cannot?
The obvious difference is that I’m the only one-man-band…right!?

For more information on Choi Sai Ho, visit his Youtube channel and his Facebook page.
His very new video has been released a few days ago!

By Stephanie Winkler