On days when you don’t feel your best, and just want to be by yourself with the curtains closed, Olivier Cong’s music is the perfect accompaniment. Pared-down arrangements, with honest, no-frills execution – Cong makes you want to cry and smile at the same time.
“To be honest, I’m actually a pretty optimistic person. People tell me that my music is sad, but I think many great songwriters who wrote the saddest songs must have felt other emotions while writing these songs – not just sadness – which is why they touch you so deeply. I want to impart a light source through my music. My songs might sound melancholic at first, but there are many layers hidden beneath that reveal themselves when you listen to them more and more. I want to capture the progression of life. Not everything is sunshine and butterflies, but that’s the way life is,” explains Cong in an interview with MEeeep More.
With an academic background in psychology, Cong composed his first songs while studying in the UK, and went on to perform in local pubs to hone his craft. Currently based in Hong Kong, Cong has released several albums: Through The Window I See No Star (Live at St. Andrew’s Church), Magic Kingdom, City of Strange (music for dance), A Ghost and His Paintings, and A Thousand Words.
OLIVIER CONG PRESENTS: I AM AFRAID OF...
This October, Cong is back with I Am Afraid Of..., the final part of his acclaimed dream trilogy series that began with Milou’s Dream and The Interpretation of Milou’s Dream, both cross-media performances. A concert, theatre performance and art installation all at once, I Am Afraid Of... blurs the lines of music appreciation with a multi-sensory experience.
In this immersive dreamscape, the human senses become connected. Hear Cong and his band perform favourite hits and new tracks from his upcoming studio album, watch imagery by director Linus Chan that corresponds to the music, smell emotion-evoking aromas specially-curated by Scentory and Wenxiangji, and experience an interactive live-stream session as you enter Cong’s realm of introspection.
Attendees are encouraged to arrive early and explore the venue before the concert starts – an interactive session presented by sound innovators and official sponsor KEF will take you on a experiential journey through music and visuals. Choose your favourite song from the “Journey into the Dream” playlist, and watch as the movie visuals change according to the music, played from KEF’s award-winning LS50 Wireless II speakers.
SOUND OF LIFE EXCLUSIVE: INTERVIEW WITH OLIVIER CONG
Q: What is the inspiration behind “I Am Afraid Of...”?
A: During the pandemic, we experienced many things for the first time. Lockdowns, isolation, loneliness... these became our everyday routines. But when you’re alone, you tend to overthink things. One night, while lying in bed, I started having a lot of paranoid thoughts. When it starts to go a little out of control, I always tell myself I should go to sleep and think about it tomorrow. Fear lives within us, but why does it appear only at certain times? Through “I Am Afraid Of...” I’d like to share that these feelings should be acknowledged and dealt with. Fear is something that must be accepted, in order for us to grow and get to know ourselves better.
Q: Tell us more about your relationship with KEF.
A: I’m deeply honoured to be one of the few Hong Kong musicians to be sponsored by KEF. I’ve always felt that KEF tells an incredibly unique story: originally, the co-founder Raymond Cooke was a design engineer at BBC. He was able to improve sound quality by making his own modifications, and that was how KEF was born. It’s really inspirational; like when you do something out of pure passion. When you do it long enough and well enough, people will naturally appreciate your craft.
Q: What was your first impression of KEF?
A: They have really unique, memorable designs. Unlike the technical equipment I use at work, I think KEF’s advantage lies in their lifestyle-oriented products, which bridge the gap between people who appreciate good sound quality and people who pay attention to aesthetics. The process of creation is a long one, and I’m glad that KEF allows more music lovers to find happiness when listening to their favourite tunes.
Q: What’s the concept behind your collaboration with KEF for “Journey into the Dream”?
A: I wanted to show the connection between KEF and my music. So we combined KEF’s stellar sound quality with elegant theatrical aspects using lighting, visuals and music. It’s not an “art installation” per se, but it’s designed to give you an experience that allows you to enjoy sound in an interactive and immersive environment, kind of like in a museum. I won’t say more – you’ll have to come and experience it for yourself!
Q: Your songs give listeners an imagery that goes beyond just melodies and lyrics. What do you do when you’re not making music?
A: I mainly read or watch movies. Recently I’ve been into topics like multimedia, and how it can improve a performance. Movies and literature are an important part of my life, but it all boils down to how you present the knowledge you’ve accumulated. Literature inspires me when I create, and helps me express what I want to convey. Like for my upcoming concert – I spent a lot of time on observing and researching theatrical performances. I don’t want to come across as pretentious, but I really love poetry and novels. (Laughs)
Q: How would you describe your music in three words?
A: It would be: contradiction, space, nothingness. I try to bring out a sense of complexity in my work.
Q: How do you get into that ideal headspace when you’re writing music?
A: I start off with some random chords on the keyboard with nothing in mind. It’s kind of like doodling – you just do it when you’re relaxed and let the feeling take over. Gradually, I build layers on top, from memories, ideas and inspirations.
GET IN THE MOOD
Listen to Olivier Cong’s “I Am Afraid Of...” curated playlist for a pre-concert experience.
Olivier Cong presents “I Am Afraid Of...”, a multi-sensory and moving image experience
From 19th to 21st October, feast your senses in an immersive concert by Olivier Cong, happening at The Box, Freespace, West Kowloon Cultural District. Sponsored by KEF, “I am Afraid Of...” is a night of musical poetry, visual symbolism and unusual encounters.
Get your tickets here.
Cover Credit: Raven Lee
Writer| Michelle Tan
Lover of all things bizarre, Michelle has a soft spot for dinosaurs, animal videos and a strong G&T. Her lifelong dream is to become an urban hermit.