Sitting in her room in Beijing surrounded by music equipment, Merry Lamb Lamb is wearing a white top decorated in red polka dots while rocking her signature above-the-brow bangs. She’s currently quarantining in China’s capital city, having arrived two weeks early, before she begins filming for a new music show.
At the moment she’s tight-lipped on giving any details about the project, but with her past work on reality programs in the mainland, it's sure to be nothing less than thrilling. “My craziest experience was being on a variety show for electronic music two years ago,” she says about the Tencent-backed 2019 show Rave Now, which was filmed in Shanghai. “You had 24 hours to write a song. There was so much pressure to finish and then perform it.”
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong-based artist released her latest track “Insomnia”, which was produced in Mandarin. True to her unique sound, the upbeat yet melancholy song was inspired by the many sleepless nights Merry had thinking about the future while adjusting to the new norm: a world plagued by the coronavirus pandemic.
The singer-songwriter admits that she has always liked the contrast between a dance-beat tune and rueful lyrics. This concept is not limited to the music released by the artist – the bubblegum-pop music video that was released together with “Insomnia” finds the musician wearing see-through light-pink frames, lying on the floor while surrounded by bright and colourful nostalgic memorabilia from the early 2000s.
The multilingual songstress produces music in Cantonese, Mandarin and English, for the reason that each language portrays a different side of herself. “English is more direct; it’s something I use in day-to-day life, while Cantonese shows a more poetic side of myself. Cantonese is a very hard language to learn, and with the way you write lyrics, its sounds and syllables are really difficult. Mandarin is a mixture of the two – it’s poetic and direct.”
Growing up in Hong Kong and later studying in Toronto during her university days, the fine arts major soon discovered that the gallery world wasn’t for her, comparing it to a supermarket-like environment. “It's more for famous painters, but they don’t invest in people who are amazing,” she says. “My dream just kinda crashed. It was a reality check.”
With the encouragement of her friends, Merry changed her medium from visual to audio for her graduation project and quickly learned how to create music on her MacBook laptop by watching YouTube video tutorials. This pivotal moment in her life led to the creation of her very first song “Pity Party”, which paints the story of feeling alone at a party. It ultimately kickstarted her music career.
Now, almost six years later, the electronic musician has continued to write, compose and produce music using her computer. She credits a lot of her success to the internet, being able to connect with her fans and meeting different people through social media. “I’m really surprised that people accept my music, because I am so different from those in the Cantonese music scene and the electronic scene. I feel acceptance.”
Considering it to be one of her biggest accomplishments to date, Merry believes that the music industry has helped her find friends and a like-minded community. “Instagram connects me with a lot of different people, like the Japanese band Chai. They’ve actually listened to my music which is so bizarre and amazing,” she exclaims with excitement. “I’ve talked with them on Instagram. I was so starstruck. The internet is so powerful.”
According to Merry Lamb Lamb’s Spotify analytics, a big portion of her fanbase comes from the United States, something that surprised even the artist herself, given that many of her songs are performed in Cantonese. While steadily garnering a following from all around the world, the quirky and eccentric artist has definitely not gone unnoticed in her native city.
Brands including New Balance, Doc Martens and Gucci have collaborated with the songstress – who once considered a career in fashion – on campaigns in Hong Kong. “It was an amazing experience to collaborate with Gucci,” she recalls. “I was on a tram on a really cold winter night. I was wearing a mini-skirt and posing, and everyone on the streets was waving at me.”
Looking ahead, the musician is optimistic about the future, “I want to tell everyone to watch out. I am releasing my album this year and I want to come back and host a concert. I haven’t hosted my own concert before. I am really excited!”
Cover Credit: Courtesy of Merry Lamb Lamb
Writer | Kristy Or
A fan of indie films and alternative music, Kristy is a writer and producer from Sydney. Tea and coffee are a vital part of her diet.