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Home > Culture > Music > Tuning In: Kerryta on branching out from Dusty Bottle and her love for Mariah Carey
Tuning In: Kerryta on branching out from Dusty Bottle and her love for Mariah Carey

You may know Kerryta from her days as the lead vocalist for Hong Kong band Dusty Bottle, or recognise her from her latest single, “Time to Let Go”, with fellow Tuning In alum, Luna Is A Bep. In this latest edition, the rising star sits down with Lifestyle Asia to talk about taking on a solo career, her admiration for Mariah Carey and trying out new sounds beyond Cantopop.

For Kerryta Chau, who goes by her first name professionally, a career in music has been in the works since she was first discovered for her singing talents as a teenager. Throughout high school and then university, the Hong Kong artist participated in various singing competitions, and eventually became a freelance singer after graduation.

One day, during one of her side gigs in a café, she was noticed by a local band called Dusty Bottle, who invited her to jam with them. Eventually, she became a permanent member of the group, and together they began to explore sounds outside of Cantopop, like funky and electronic music.

Today, Kerryta is back to her roots as a solo artist with Universal Music Hong Kong. Under new management, she continues to explore her own possibilities beyond Cantopop, neo-soul and R&B, and oh — she’s just released a new song with Luna Is A Bep, “Time to Let Go”, so go stream it here now!

Tuning In: Kerryta

kerryta

When and how did your interest in music begin?

Since I was around six, I’ve been drawn to different types of music like jazz arrangements. When I listened to songs, I didn’t really understand the lyrics, but I loved the feeling that the rhythm and melody brought me and I felt a connection to the music I listened to.

When did you realise you were musical? Can you pinpoint a moment when you realised you were good?

I discovered I could sing during secondary school when I joined a singing competition — I chose to perform “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Blue and Elton John — and received praise from the principal. Afterwards, I started to explore my potential for music and took on the violin and guitar.

In university, I continued to join singing competitions. I didn’t win, but I learned a lot in the process. After graduation, I began performing at cafés as a side job, and consequentially met a lot of musician friends in the industry.

How have different cultural influences in your life shaped you as a musician?

As I mentioned, I listened to a lot of genres from a young age, including R&B, jazz and visual rock. I would say Mariah Carey and her album E=MC² were my earliest and biggest influences to date. Everything about her, from her music arrangements to singing style to live performances inspires me as an artist.

When I joined Dusty Bottle, we did a lot of funky and electronic music. We constantly tried out different styles and explored how to merge them with Cantopop. Working with the band made me confident and set the foundation for my solo career. Right now I’m concentrating on telling stories through my songs with sensational lyrics.

What’s the first song you each ever learned by heart?

“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. I used to have no confidence during secondary school — when I was 11 or 12, I went through a growth spurt so I constantly felt too fat, and too tall. Beautiful gave me strength. I even performed it for a competition, that’s how much the song meant to me.

What song, album or performance had a really important, lasting impact on you, both personally and as an artist?

It’s a tie between Mariah Carey’s E=MC² and Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE. I’ve already explained why I love the first; as for the latter, it’s just such a phenomenal album and allows me to jump into a different creative zone.

Who’s your favourite musician/artist and why?

Aside from Mariah Carey, I would say Beyoncé. I loved her as a fan, but now as an artist myself, I love her even more. She’s my role model because she sets high standards for herself and her performances. And she does all her music production personally or at least is there to guide her staff through it.

What does music, or being a musician, mean to you?

Music is like oxygen. I can’t live without it. Even if I wasn’t an artist, I need music in my life because it defines me.

kerryta

What’s your creative process?

Subconsciously, a lot of my own songs are influenced by the artists I listen to. But sometimes I’ll get a sudden spark of inspiration, say, when I’m showering. Then I’ll switch on the sound recording app on my phone and hum a little tune. After that, I’ll put the song together little by little, kinda like maths.

Do you have any pre- and post-show rituals?

Pre-show, I’m usually too nervous to talk to anyone. I just want to concentrate on myself and warm up my voice.

Post-show, I usually gather with my bandmates to discuss what we did right and what we could improve on next time.

What are your personal most-played tracks on Spotify?

I’ve been listening to Devin Morrison’s album Bussin’ a lot lately. The whole album is filled with 90s R&B vibes, my go-to when I’m alone, drinking coffee and reading. Other than Bussin’, here are my favourite songs right now:

What’s the toughest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Going solo. When I first branched out on my own, I wasn’t used to performing without my band members. With Dusty Bottle, our energies bounced off each other, but now I have to create my own energy, if you get what I mean. There’s less interaction and it’s something I had to get used to.

On the contrary, joining Dusty Bottle midway through their journey was also a challenge. The members already knew each other and had an established relationship. I felt like an interfering outsider in the beginning.

What’s next? What are you working on?

I’m still exploring my own possibilities. So while neo-soul and R&B will always come first for me, I’m open to new ideas. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with mixing Cantonese with different music genres like reggae and EDM. In the end, music is limitless and I’d love to see more diversity in the Hong Kong music scene.


(Lead and featured photos courtesy of Kerryta from her new song “Time to Let Go”)

Tuning In: Kerryta on branching out from Dusty Bottle and her love for Mariah Carey

Charmaine Ng

Editor

Charmaine enjoys eating steamed broccoli and knocking back cups of spearmint tea, all in the name of health. Covering art, beauty and music :)

 

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