Ken and His Music Factory 音樂工廠長
說到「工廠」一詞，你會聯想到什麼？《摩登時代》裡那個工作到幾乎要瘋掉的差利，還是流水式、毫無感情的量產品？嗯，似乎都不是什麼正面的東西嘛……但如果把這詞語解讀成一個讓職人埋頭苦幹的地方，整個畫面就變了調了，對不？棋人音樂工業Chessman Music Industry就是一個這樣的地方，這次Chessman Post就請來她的音樂監製蘇耀光，談談這家做音樂的工廠。
When the word “factory” hits you, what would you think of? The tortured Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times”, or some mass produced products with senseless, standardised procedures? Sounds like the associations are quite unfavourable, huh…what if we take this term as a place where craftsmen work hard? The whole picture becomes different! Chessman Music Industry (CMI), despite her name, is a place like this. For this issue, Chessman Post had a conversation with CMI’s music executive producer Ken So about this factory of music.
Ken is a singer-songwriter from Macau. He joined Chessman in 2004 as a contact singer. At a certain original singing competition Ken met Jones and Siu Fay, who were the judges back then. Jones and Siu Fay talked Ken to join Chessman after the competition. Since then Ken was transformed from a performer to a crew member at the backstage when he became the head of Chessman Music Department. Ken had to take care of all the music production procedures, from singing, composing, songwriting, arrangement to supervision, mixing and post-production, etc.
This Music Department of Chessman was the previous life of CMI. “Back in 2009, it was only me. Then in 2011 when Puo Pon (Ken’s fellow music executive producer at CMI) returned from Australia, the department experienced a fast growth: from 1 to 2 people! Haha!” laughed Ken. He told us that after going through the projects in 2012 and 2013, Puo and he both agreed that they had to be left alone to produce good music, thus they separated the whole department from Chessman and started CMI in 2014.
From a department to an independent company, it is sensible to say that Ken had to face issues and problems which were much different from the previous ones. As Ken indicated, after CMI was formed, the biggest differences he had experienced so far were his expanded horizon and his way of working. “Before the only thing I had to care about was making music, but now I have to run a company, I have to face things like administrative, finance, manpower, negotiation with others, etc...I have to deal with problems all by myself. Well, of course it also means I can have more control, which is more fun!”
Being the man in charge provides Ken with more access to the variables that can affect music making, including himself as a musician. Ken confessed that after establishing CMI he had to cut down his personal creations, however he had learned more about himself. “To a certain extend I am not an extreme artist; I understand to have successful development I can’t just think of myself, that’s why now I tend to find and discover more talents, bring them in and help our mates to become great.”
Let’s not forget Ken’s rich portfolio, including the song “Things I can’t say” of Rico Long. Ken named this song as the most impressive production - not only this was theme for Rico’s live concert, but it also won the Golden Song at Macau Music Awards...plus, it caught ears of Paco (yes, Paco Wong from Hong Kong the legendary manager) who later bought the song for Siu Fay. That was also the story of Sin Fay’s famous song “Father”.
“It is my most popular song ever written...initially it was intended for Rico’s first live concert with the same title, and I could not write a note for weeks. The song was forced with an hour before the deadline and it became the most known songs of mine. This is art, sometimes the best work is powered by deadline! (LOL)”
Fighting with deadlines is a task of every creative, but not many of them can cross the border and shift between the positions of a performer and a crew member. So which position is your favourite? Ken have us an interesting answer.
“It’s quite hard to say which position is my favorite, like having Chinese cuisine and Western ones - at different situation you’ll have different choices. Of course opportunities to perform on stage are rare and I will treasure them.”
Looking forward, Ken did not hide his ambition. He and his mates have great expectation of CMI. “We will have a complex of CMI in three years. It will be a station where you’ll find studios, lecture rooms for pop music, post-production facilities for film soundtracks, and a museum dedicated for Macau music history. CMI will root deep in Macau and go global.”
How about as a musician? Ken understood audiences nowadays can never be easily satisfied by music and music only, multi-media creative productions are necessary. In recent years Ken had participated in several musical productions and he grew fondness for this form of art.
“I always want to produce a musical of my own. Of course I will need mates who have the same thought to make it...I’ve been picturing my own musical, and it has to be about human emotion, inevitably; it would be a story about reality and dream. We all lead busy lives and interpersonal relationship is getting weaker and weaker...When the male lead wakes up, he finds himself in this strange world where his wife, friends and families are all stranger to him. Every time he falls into sleep he will wake up in a new place and he has to learn about people around him from zero…”
Such fantasy reflects a question Ken wanted us to think about: what is the most important thing in our lives? Music, like every form or art, discusses things about life. With the help of his comrade, surely we can expect something big from Ken and his music factory.