Classical Piano, Digital Animation, and Societal Purpose | E-da-nee NG
Malaysian-born, classically trained multimedia artist Edane Ng is a one-of-a-kind pianist. Her ability to use the most traditional musical instrument to convey messages about social issues and inequality makes her a unique voice in the classical music environment.
Edane’s interest in digital animation further expanded the reach of her creativity, with a medium that creates a perfect juxtaposition of atmospheres with the evocative piano compositions she performs in the UK and Malaysia.
Considered by many as one of the most promising stars among the new generation of classical pianists, Edane won the Asia Music Competition and the 6th Asian Youth Music Competition in Malaysia, as well as many other international awards in Asia and the UK.
With MIF Sounds, Edane will bring to life one of her most ambitious projects to date: combining classical music and digital animation into one immersive, coherent experience.
You've said you're trying to combine digital animation with classical music – quite a unique proposition. Where did that idea come from, and what's your vision?
During the pandemic, I went back home to Malaysia. I worked full-time outside of music in the digital team at a business radio station, covering business news and current affairs. I had to learn different skill sets, such as marketing and journalism, as I wasn't sure if I would return and survive in the UK as a classical musician. Because of that, I didn't have much time and was too exhausted to socialise. Digital animation became my "buddy" and a comforting outlet for me to communicate with myself and society through rough times.
During many rough times, I often asked myself: why is classical music less appreciated? How can I introduce classical music in an engaging and meaningful way to the audience? Why are there not many employable opportunities for classical musicians besides education?
My vision became clear when I returned to the UK. I want to build a creative platform that uses classical music and digital animation to highlight controversial societal concerns such as child abuse, bribery, and racism.
How does digital animation influence your sound? How does your sound influence the animated projects you create?
I used to perceive animation and classical music as art forms that one uses to express themselves, but now I see both of them as powerful voices that can leave an influential impact on society.
How does it feel to be included in the second round of MIF Sounds artists? What do you hope to achieve with their support?
MIF Sounds has helped me gain huge confidence and courage in my vision of bringing a societal purpose to classical music.
Furthermore, its funding has allowed me to pursue my side passion, digital animation, which I hope to combine with classical music. As a classical pianist, I’m beyond grateful that my unconventional ideas are encouraged and appreciated by MIF Sounds, and I’m looking forward to sharing the beauty of classical music with a younger audience.
How did you find your sound? What was that journey like?
I don’t only like classical music, I adore all music genres – funk, jazz, rock, folk, pop, and also really enjoy the sounds of nature. Since I was young, I just kept on experimenting with any sounds I liked on the piano and combined them with classical music. I didn't think the journey was difficult as I just really enjoy creating the sounds that I like!
How do you hope for people to perceive classical music? What does it represent for you?
Just like pop and jazz, classical music can just be another music genre that you’ll enjoy listening to. It might take a bit of time to find what you enjoy in the huge pool of classical music, but it doesn't require the audience to be "classy", "insightful", or “educated”.
To me, classical music is a mentor! It puts me back on track when I lose touch with my inner self.
What is one moment in your journey so far that you’re the proudest of? On the flip side, what’s been the biggest barrier as an emerging creative?
Just last week, I received an email about how my animation video about child abuse (it was a draft) moved their hearts and made them want to support me further in making the animation/classical music project happen. The email was very sincerely written, and I had a good cry while reading it on the 263 sapphire bus!
My biggest barrier is funding and personality. I’m really shy in person – putting myself out there (that’s why I have a stage name) and asking for money are two things that I struggled (and am still struggling) with most.
Besides music, are there other sounds that inspire you?
I absolutely enjoy listening to debates. I enjoy listening to the interesting perspectives on controversial topics such as socialism/capitalism, religious freedom, marriage equality, and philosophy. I’m always intrigued by the voices of eloquent and quick-witted debaters. They always remind me to see things from a new perspective and are a great inspiration for my creative work. I recommend anyone to watch the debate by Oxford Union: “Mehdi Hassan: Islam is a peaceful religion” on YouTube.
How do you personally discover new music or artists? Are there any local artists, events, or trends that you want to share with everyone?
Jacob Collier, System of a Down, Yuja Wang, Joao Donato, Krystian Zimmerman. As for classical musicians: my favourites are Johannes Brahms (especially 3 Intermezzi, Op.117) and George Crumb. As for animation or drawing artists, Afterskool and School of Life are my favourites on YouTube. I also highly recommend attending Manchester Collective’s events as their concerts are one-of-a-kind experiences!
What excites you the most about The Factory opening in Manchester?
The amount of creativity, diversity, and support Manchester International Festival have for emerging artists is incredible.
I’m looking forward to not only the music events, but the community that MIF is going to build among art lovers in the Factory. It is indeed going to be one of the most vibrant creative venues in 2023.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to the next generation of emerging artists?
Accept your absolute weirdness! I always don’t feel like I belong anywhere I studied (in primary, secondary, or college). Do not give up on what truly burns inside you. You’ll probably feel very lonely at the beginning of your journey but know that many of us are also feeling this way. Keep your head up and let the fire continue to burn.
Tell us a little about what you've got in store.
I've been preparing for my final piano solo recital at the Royal Northern College of Music. It'll consist of some folk, introspective and exciting music (Bartok, Brahms and Albeniz and Prokofiev). I'll also be competing in the RNCM Innovator Award with my animation project "Healing Our Child Within", centring around child abuse. Then, I’ll be off to Helsinki, Finland for a creative and diversity course. I'm also preparing for a line-up for animation projects in late 2022!
Rising Sounds: in a collaborative series between Sound of Life and Manchester International Festival, we’re visiting MIF Sounds: an incubation programme for some of the UK’s most promising emerging creatives. Join us as we explore the unbound creativity of Manchester – sometimes hidden, sometimes on the fringes – from corners brought to the light by MIF Sounds.
Cover Credits: Manchester International Festival & wacomka/Shutterstock
Writer | Marco Sebastiano Alessi
Marco is an Italian music producer, composer and writer. He’s the founder of Naviar Records, a music community and record label exploring the connection between experimental electronic music and traditional Japanese poetry.