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Interview with Composer Ken Chan Kar Yip
Presentation 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : Jean-Louis Ogé
Date : 11/4/2006
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
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Comfort Chan Kwong Wing
Ken Chan Kar Yip
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Page 2 : Creative process from Six String Guys to SPL

Canada-born Hong Kong-based Ken Chan Kar Yip, 37, has been a full-time musician since 2000 when he decided to join the studio founded by his fellow composer Chan Kwong Wing (Infernal Affairs). Song writer and composer for commercials, TV series, pop music and feature films (SPL, Six Strong Guys, Enter The Phoenix, etc.), Chan talks with Jean-Louis on his debut, his creativity and music in HK films.

introduction to Ken Chan

HKCinemagic : What is your background, your musical formation?
Ken Chan : I have been playing in bands since high school – mostly jazz piano in “Big Band” arrangements (“Duke Ellington, Count Basie, etc.”). I've also played in a jazz fusion band and a few rock bands in Vancouver and then with the band “Tangent” in Hong Kong, which won the 1997 Carlsberg Music Festival. I had just moved from Vancouver to Hong Kong then. Actually, I've never had any formal music instruction except a recording engineer course in Vancouver !
HKCinemagic : You worked several times with the composer Chan Kwok-wing, what are your relationships and connections with him?
K C : I had met Chan Kwong Wing though a mutual friend many years ago. He was going to open a studio and was willing to sign me on as a songwriter and arranger at a time when I was already considering leaving my current employer. As things worked out, I switched from a career in real estate to being a full-time musician in 2000 and joined his studio.
HKCinemagic : Which film genres are the most inspiring for you?
K C : I originally wanted to say suspense thrillers, and sci-fi, but that's more of a reflection of what type of movies I like. But I think that composing music that makes you want to cry – now that is a challenge. It means you have helped convey an emotion, and moved someone to the point of tears. I think that is quite an accomplishment. I found that the score for “Love Actually” was very inspiring for me, especially near the end. Triumphant, sad, happy, you're feeling all those emotions all at once. You're crying with a smile on your face. That is something special.
HKCinemagic : What instruments, techniques, softwares do you use to make music?
K C : I have used Apple's Logic for nearly 15 years! And I would say 50% of the music I produce uses software synthesis and sampling programs. With computers becoming more powerful, it has become easier to get the results you want without a huge investment in resources.
HKCinemagic : What are you favorite music composers? Who has influenced you?
K C : I once heard the story about John Williams – how he went up to another composer and said “you want to listen to my new theme for Jaws?”. He then went to the piano and started pounding out those famous semitones in the bass – faster and louder. Brilliant!

I grew up with his themes – Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones….it's a different level altogether. I have to say that I really thought the score for Crash by Mark Isham was fantastic. For me, it always brought everything together and kept all those emotions wound up but never got in the way. I think that if he had done the music differently, it would have drastically affected the film as a whole. I think I mentioned it earlier; it takes much more effort to make a score like that – there is no leeway for error, if you understand what I mean. It was like the score was inhaling and exhaling in time with you. I liked it a lot.

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