“Jockey Club Human Libraries Hub” (Human Libraries Hub) is a research project operated by universities and community partners, which aims to explore methods supporting the education sector and the public to deeper understand various kinds of real-life stories, and to promote social connectedness and inclusiveness. The project includes a variety of activities, such as reading web-based materials, attending workshops and submitting reviews. The project has been approved by the Human Subjects Ethics Sub-committee of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Reference Number: HSEARS20180302004). Basic data policies are as follows: a) The personal information collected from you will be kept confidential and used for the purposes of verifying your identity, processing your request, answering your inquiry, promoting activities organized by and/or related to the project, administration and academic research; b) The project will not disclose any of your personal information to the other party. We will also take reasonable steps to protect your personal information from loss, misuse, unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. Anyone who violate the privacy policies will be subject to disciplinary or legal actions; c) The data collected from research activities will be destroyed within 3 years after the completion of the research. If you have any questions about the research study, please contact the project’s principal investigator Dr Chitat Chan (tel: 34003682; email: email@example.com). You can also write to Miss Cherrie Mok, the secretary of the Human Subjects Ethics Committee of the PolyU. Please read carefully this consent statement prior to providing any information and using the project website:
You are at least 16 years of age.
You agree to participate in the project and you understand that you may be invited to attend events, such as reading web-based materials, attending workshops and submitting reviews, and sharing stories .
You may be invited to fill out online questionnaires.
Prior to using the project website and related services, you will be required to submit your personal information, including but not limited to your name, a unique login ID and password, telephone number(s), gender, occupation, education level and e-mail address.
You are obligated to take all necessary steps to safeguard your own username and passwords from being made available to unauthorized parties.
You understand that your participation in the project is voluntary. If you decide to participate in the project, you may withdraw at any time. If you decide not to participate in the project or if you withdraw from participating at any time, you will not be penalized.
Under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance of Hong Kong, you are entitled to request access to your personal information collected by us and request the correction or deletion of your personal information from our database by making a written request over email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The indie bands scenes have always been ‘a general’s success built upon ten thousands rotting bones’*. If you have no one to pull a few strings for you, or you lack some funds, your road to success may probably be a thorny one. As the founding member of Zpecial, Hong Chung has experienced the most and he can always relate.
‘The biggest blow to a band is the withdrawal of members, because all projects in progress or in preparation have to pause immediately.’ Hong Chung says that in the past nine years, members have changed several times. Most of the time it was because they have different future plans. However, the most important element of a band is the people. There are only four people in the band and each person has his duties; nothing can be done if any one of them leaves.
* Translator’s note: C.K. Ho, Tang Poems in Original Rhyme, 2015, p235
Fighting over creative works
In 2017, because of the withdrawal of drummer, the plan to release a record was forced to be shelved indefinitely. Wai Yin joined the band in half a year later. However, people are the key elements of a band. It takes time to get people together and make things work. ‘Initially, We kept arguing because of the different perspectives we have on music,’ says Hong Chung, and the four members burst into laughter.
‘We have different styles and perspectives indeed. At that time, we often fought genuinely with one another because of our creative ideas’, the bassist Tatming says. After countless fights that did not end on good terms, they finally found a solution. ‘Later, when we encounter a situation like this, we try all the different proposals and then vote for a decision.’
Most people equate rock music with idlers and players. However, considering the conversation between these young men in front of me, I found that the four were more mature than most people have presumed. It is indisputable that the income of the band is limited. None of the four young men was born with a silver spoon. When I ask how they balance their interests and livelihood, they all answer earnestly, ‘only spend money when it is necessary.’
Working on their own side hustles
The income of making music is limited. For the sake of livelihood, all of them have side hustles. Hong Chung works as a marketing specialist in a fashion company, Wai Yin works as a fitness coach, Tatming works as a concert sound system specialist, and Mike works on research projects at a university. ‘The band is our main job, and works other than music are the side hustles. The band is our primary concern.’ Hong Chung says that the flexibility of taking time off and working hours are the prerequisites of deciding what side hustle to do. He says jokingly that he asked the company for a half-day off because of this interview, and he might get fired when he was back to office!
I ask the four, ‘how far can you go’ for music? The drummer Wai Yin, who joined only at the end of last year, says. ‘I came from the music department of the same school as Hong Chung. After graduation, I found it difficult to find a job in the music industry. For the sake of my family and for livelihood, I have done almost everything in the past two years, even manual works.’ When Hong Chung invited him to join, Wai Yin struggled over and over whether he should give up his stable job with an ideal income and pursue his favourite, music.
Fortunately, the four Zpecial members who are passionate about music have the incommensurable understandings and support from their family. After careful consideration, Wai Yin made up his mind and quit his job, devoting himself to music.
Hong Chung says, ‘After Wai Yin came and joined us, there was once we finished a performance in the Mainland, he told me that no matter we (Zpecial) succeeded or failed, as long as we could go through such a colourful journey, life was worthwhile.’
Zpecial started as an amateur band. They released their first album ‘The Impulse To Travel’ in November. The song ‘Journey to the Unknown’ in this album won the ‘VIP Hit Song Award’. VIP Music Charts Awards Ceremony is a grand event of Chinese music in which talents from Hong Kong, the Mainland, Macau, Malaysia, the United States and Canada gather and celebrate. This group of young men, with their enthusiasm and a will to never give up, work hard on the difficult music journey. Their story is certainly one of the best portrayals of the new generation of Hongkongers.
For the road ahead, they are full of confidence. Regarding their early promise of ‘going global’, they chose the Mainland as the first stop. They also plan to participate in music festivals in Taiwan and Japan. ‘As long as we work hard, we believe people will notice.’ Hong Chung says in a firm tone. The results of sweat and hard work always make one remember. In the foreseeable future, the four young men will surely embrace a fruitful harvest.
Written by: Kim Shi Fung
Original story in Chinese, English translation by: Daniel Leung & Sharon Huang