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HomeLifestyleDropped by music label Universal, Hong Kong singer Jace Chan is making...

Dropped by music label Universal, Hong Kong singer Jace Chan is making it on her own and loving the freedom. ‘Welcome to my new world,’ she says

Having taken the ending of her Universal contract in her stride, Chan is charting her own path as an independent artist. After months spent waiting for her contract to expire, she has just released a five-song EP, Hatching.

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“When I was not able to perform or to do a lot to expand my network and try something new, I had to stay still at that one spot,” she says. “It [felt] like hatching.

“When hatching, it seems like there’s nothing much you can do. But there’s warmth, there’s progress – it’s just not easy to see. But you know what you’re doing.”

For the past 10 months, Chan has mostly been out of Hong Kong and focusing on herself. She spent a significant amount of time travelling – which included a long stint in Los Angeles in the US state of California – during which she did some much needed soul-searching.

“Now I’m 29, almost 30. This is the time for me to learn what I want and what I need. I wanted to really listen to myself. I don’t have to always be pleasing others,” she says.

The cover artwork for Chan’s new EP, “Hatching”. Photo: Instagram/@jacechw

The five songs on her new EP are notably different from the songs Chan was known for. While hits like “Quarantine” and “Long D” were soft and romantic in nature, her new songs, such as “Calm Down”, are a little funkier, with a hip hop bent.

“This sounds like you, finally,” Chan’s friends told her upon listening to the EP.

It helps that all five songs in Hatching were written by Chan – in the past, she mostly sang songs written by others. At first, she says, “I hated songwriting, because it’s just too direct. You can see what you write, and then you feel [that] it’s so cringey, and then you just want to stop.

“[But] I realised I shouldn’t judge myself that much … I just allowed myself to let it flow, and then I started to write more and more.

“When you don’t have any framework for yourself and you don’t have any limitations for yourself, everything becomes so easy.”

“Earthly Fairy”, a song on “Hatching”, was inspired by the nature that Chan surrounded herself with in California and Mexico. Photo: Instagram/@jacechw
Chan’s new songs have a variety of musical influences, including hip hop, R&B, jazz and pop. “Calm Down” borrows from the boom bap style made popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is centred on the idea that everyone should be focused on their own practice and path.

“There’s no point judging others, or complaining about how you didn’t get the right recognition,” the singer says. “All you have to do is just be focused and craft your own kung fu.”

On “Calm Down” she sings in Cantonese, English and Mandarin. “When you write a diary, or you speak to yourself … it’s just easier for me to write very fast in Chinglish than complete formal Chinese,” Chan says. “I find it easier for me to express my feelings and record my feelings with maybe English or sometimes Mandarin.

“[And] because it’s Oriental with a hip hop influence, it feels like me – Hong Kong people. It’s a combination of Oriental and Western,” she says.

Since her split from Universal Music, Chan has decided to chart her own path by becoming an independent artist. Photo: courtesy of Jace Chan

Meanwhile, “Bye Bye”, the first song on the EP, takes listeners back to Chan’s mindset at the beginning of 2023. “Bye bye / I’m sorry / I had to leave and build myself a better life,” she sings.

“It’s a very fragile and direct piece of work,” she says. “It captures a very genuine me when I was just completely lost, but that song helped me get through it.”

“Back in the day, I was so used to valuing myself [by] how people see me or with what I achieved in [my] career,” she adds. “I [didn’t] know how to see myself. I had nothing to validate me. But that’s also the time that I started to explore what truly validated me.”

Chan performing at her “Unbordered” concert. Photo: courtesy of Jace Chan

Another track, “Earthly Fairy”, was inspired by the nature that Chan surrounded herself with in California and Mexico. The song’s lyrics – much like the rest of the EP – represent another chapter in her journey; in this case, letting go and learning to live in the moment.

“I remember going to a cenote [a natural sinkhole] in Mexico and enjoying the nature. All that gave me so much inspiration [for] how simple life could be,” she says. “I remember I was looking up at the sky, seeing the palm trees and just enjoying the breeze, and then I wrote the whole verse right away on the street.”

Hatching’s other two songs, “Lo Siento and “Sigue Haciendo” (featuring Hong Kong actress and lyricist Chung Suet-ying), have Spanish lyrics. Having made a number of Mexican friends during her travels, Chan was inspired to start learning the language with the help of the app Duolingo.

“Spanish was always in my head, and I found it easier to sing in Spanish than Cantonese sometimes, because of the intonation.”

Chan’s new EP features hip hop, R&B, jazz and pop influences. Photo: Instagram/@jacechw

After returning to Hong Kong, Chan immediately began music production and produced the five songs within two months.

“The rush is not very much about me but more about how I want to respond to my supporters, because they have been waiting so long, for more than a year,” she says. “It’s been very hectic and very overwhelming. But I learned a lot through it. Sometimes you just have to stay [true] to your mission and go for it.

“This is the new me, so welcome to my new world.”

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