Fei Li, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi
Choi Sai Ho is an electronic musician and audio-visual artist from Hong Kong. He mixes different sounds from a wide range of sources ranging from eight-bit Gameboy music, violin to self-recorded samples. Not only does he create his own unique kind of music, he also uses special visual effects to make his music more vivid. In order to make his art representative of wh
ere he grows up, Hong Kong, he uses a lot of videos that depict Hong Kong like crowded roads and packed skyscrapers. All these make him a successful new media artist.
I choose Choi Sai Ho as my favourite new media artist because I was also born and brought up in Hong Kong. I saw his performance last year, I was so impressed by his passion on the stage and the various kinds of creative music he played especially the GameBoy toys that make the 8-bit sounds. It was fascinating to see how he could make music with something which is not music instrument.
This is a music video of his, enjoy.
Fei: How do you think of being considered as a new media artist?
Choi Sai Ho: I am a violinist myself, I mostly make a compilation of music and video. That is my signature and I did not realize that using different effects like 8-bit Gameboy music makes me a new media artist. Anyways, I like the idea of being a new media artist but I still perceive myself as a musician.
Fei: So you were a traditional violinist, how did you come up with mixing violin with electronic instruments and all those new kinds of music, such as the Gameboy music and radio samplings?
Choi Sai Ho: 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.
Fei: Being an independent new media artist in Hong Kong is not easy because the music scene of Hong Kong is mostly occupied by pop music, do you find it hard for people to appreciate your music?
Choi Sai Ho: That is true, but that is not a resistance. Most of my audiences are not Hong Kong people. This makes my works more unique to them because electronic music has its roots in Western society, and I try to mix it with my own cultural roots as an experiment. My songs can be seen as fitting soundtracks for fast industrial urbanites, while at other times they turn soft and lyrical, fit for a walk in Victoria Park.
Fei: Who had the influence on you for being a new media artist instead of just a violinist?
Choi Sai Ho: I am 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.
Fei: What inspires you to use those repetitive imageries of Hong Kong?
Choi Sai Ho: I have been living in Hong Kong for so many years, it is where I call home. Those imageries are representative of Hong Kong. Sometimes life becomes a routine and it repeats the same pattern again and again. This pretty much explains the reason behind.
Fei: What is your favourite sound effect?
Choi Sai Ho: I cannot decide because when different sounds come together as a whole, they make another sound effect. I cannot solely like a particular sound effect.
Fei: What is the difference between being a new media artist and a musician?
Choi Sai Ho: Both take talent. But being a new media artist one must pay so much attention to the surroundings because things change too fast.