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Musicians in the House: Catching Up with PROJECT AFTER 6 Family Members

Sometimes, life gets so busy that we forget to make time for what we love – not the participants of PROJECT AFTER 6 (PA6), though. Launched in 2014, this community engagement programme created by Swire Properties offers talented office professionals a stage to shine. Ahead of the 2020 programme, we sit down with three members from PA6 Family to talk about their musical journeys, inspiration and dreams.

William Elvin Manzano, copywriter and singer-songwriter | Participant of PROJECT AFTER 6: THE PITCH (2019)

“I used to write musicals and perform as an independent rock artist in the Philippines. I started my writing career when I moved to Hong Kong in 2013, but I still played with a band from time to time. By 2017, however, I felt like it wasn’t working for me anymore; I got tired – not of music – but I thought I should focus on work. So, I stopped performing altogether…That was, until 2019. One day, my colleague and I saw a PA6 poster in the elevator in Oxford House (where our office is). She encouraged me to give it a go, and I did. It was a happy accident – I hadn’t thought about music for two years and suddenly, there it was again.
The experience was such a blast: the lunchtime gig at ArtisTree was my first public performance in a long while and I was so surprised when my whole team at work came down to support me! I also got to meet many local musicians, which was nice for me because as a Filipino in Hong Kong, I wasn’t really connected to the local community. PA6 reminded me of how much I love music and it’s something that I couldn’t dismiss even if I’m working for money. I’ve released two albums since, with the latest one, called Faces/Phases, just launched in May. I’m still in touch with many of my PA6 friends, and some of us are planning to do a show together to share our original songs, so stay tuned!”

Charlie Chan, singer-songwriter | Participant of PROJECT AFTER 6: BUSKING (2018) and PROJECT AFTER 6: THE PITCH (2019)

“My journey began six years ago when I started jamming with some friends in university. Upon graduation, I decided to become a freelance pop and R&B musician. Along the way I’ve taken part in many competitions and programmes, but PA6 was something else. I first signed up for the programme in 2018, and I discovered that unlike most competitions which are simply one-off events, PA6 was a collaborative journey where you got to meet, learn from and perform with different musicians. I enjoyed this process a lot, which was why I returned for the programme last year.
PA6 has opened up a lot of opportunities for me as a singer-songwriter. For example, after my performance at Tong Chong Street Market, I received an invitation from the Hong Kong Arts Centre to do a show singing my original songs. Another time, a college student approached me after a gig at Taikoo Place and asked me to be a judge for their singing contest. Currently, I’m a vocalist of a band called Kowloon K, and we’re creating an original album. These have all been incredible experiences that enabled me to become a more confident and established musician. My biggest dream? Well, I’d like to be able to support myself fully through music – for me, nothing is more important than pursuing our dreams while we’re still young, so even though it means now I have to take on part-time jobs to support myself, it’s all worth it when I get to share my music with others.”

Longman Luk, flight attendant and erhuist of Longman, Wes & Jaa | Participant of PROJECT AFTER 6: BUSKING (2018) and PROJECT AFTER 6: THE PITCH (2019)

“Music connects people across time and space – and our trio Longman, Wes & Jaa is a great example. Music is what brings us three seemingly unrelated people together: I’m an erhuist and flight attendant; Jaa is an art admin manager by day and a double bassist by night; and Wes is a guitarist and works in a record company. Jaa and I played in a string ensemble together in university, and it wasn’t until 2018 that we joined PA6 and met Wes, who was in another band called Chonotenki. After spending some time together chatting about our music ideas and albums, we decided to sign up together as a trio in 2019.
Our music is an experiment of unusual instrument combinations performed in a live-looping fashion. We tend to be flexible and often spontaneous. For example, Jaa would begin by creating a meditative atmosphere, then Wes and I would respond freely. During the development, we may throw in a vocal line here, try out a weird idea there. We want to show that there are many possibilities – just because I play the erhu, it doesn’t mean I can only play traditional Chinese music. I think PA6 has provided us with a rare platform to experiment with this kind of non-mainstream music, and it’s been such a rewarding journey. Since then, the three of us have still been creating new pieces in our studio and will share them on our social medial channels. I can’t say for the other two, but ultimately I’d like to become a full-time musician. But until then, we will go on and dig deeper into our own way of making music.”

Do you also have a musical talent? PROJECT AFTER 6: THE PITCH 2020 recruitment is starting in mid July. Shortlisted participants will also automatically become members of PA6 FAMILY which will offer exclusive workshops and performance opportunities. Stay tuned on PA6's website here.
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