Hanging Up the Moon | hangingupthemoon.comA recent trip to Nottingham gave me the opportunity to interact with other fellow artists, who shared openly with me about how their fears, anxiety and phobias have motivated them to create depressing, solemn works that only serve to remind themselves of their emotional coma. Yet when I listened to Sean Lam’s album Hanging Up The Moon, there’s barely a nuance of self-depreciation.
“When I wrote them, I was going through an uncertain time and in a way, they were written to cheer myself on in life,” said Lam, the founder and creative director of Plate Interactive. “In the process of making this album, I found it easier to cope with feelings of loss, stress and anxiety. I think that's what it does for me. Not so much a learning process but rather, an outlet, or escapism if you'd like. It's always been the case.”
Hanging Up The Moon is a ‘self-titled’ 11 track album that’s recorded entirely at home by Lam in 2011 and mastered by Victor Low, who was formerly from The Observatory and Lam’s band Concave Scream. Concave Scream was formed in the early 90s and in the course of more than a decade, the band has released five full length albums, the latest of which was an instrumental piece titled “Soundtrack For A Book” released in 2009.
Lam decided to create Hanging Up The Moon as he was facing difficulties in committing to the band’s schedule, yet the need to ease the creative itch for song writing has prompted him to create a minimal, folk based genre that’s manageable within his resources.
“I'm always conscious of the band's style and approach to music making,” he explained. “So for this solo project, since it is a rather lo-fi and homemade affair, I wasn't too hard on myself when it came to getting things perfect during recording. I felt that allowing some rough edges to be present gave it a more authentic and personal feel.”
Composed mostly with just a guitar and ukulele, one can catch the occasional sliding across the ridges of the strings amidst the crooning. Sometimes the songs sound like advices you hear from a wise friend reminding you of the lightness in life. And there are others that make you feel that you reading someone’s old diary.
Listen beyond the optimism of his song writing and you can’t help but imagine what kind of misery he could be going through when he penned those lyrics. It’s as though you are walking through layers of light that teases you with a hint of the shadow, with lyrics such as in your sadness you wonder//where did you go wrong//only to discover//that you knew it all along.
(Music is) an extension of our emotions and at times a subliminal mode of communication.
While his song K was written in mind of his daughter, Lam’s inspiration fleets from time to time depending on what he’s going through in the present moment. Citing old records as his current muse for their depth and honesty, he’s drawn to the Beach Boys’s harmonies and described them as “amazing”. As a veteran in the local music scene who have experienced periods where performers were paid “free beer”, he observed that local musicians are getting more adventurous and initiative in seeking opportunities to perform overseas.
“There's more professionalism in this industry now than before. Musicians are less likely to deal with grouchy sound men these days,” he said. “I also feel that the audience have grown. People, especially the younger generation are now more receptive towards music made by their kinsmen. I hope I'm right when I'm saying this, but I think for them, there's a new found sense of pride in identifying with local music and musicians.”
However, he lamented that the lack of support from the mainstream media is “a shame”, and suggested passing a law that will require local radio stations to play a minimal percentage of locally produced music every day. “I believe to date, there are enough locally made music to fit all genres of music on the various local stations. One just has to do the homework. Still, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the individual. Truth is, if the conviction is there, somehow or other, with or without support, these people will still create.”