IN CONVERSATION WITH MERRY LAMB LAMB
Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari
Discover the creative universe of Merry Lamb Lamb, an electronic music virtuoso whose utopian soundscapes and one-man band approach bring a unique dimension to the music scene. Merry’s debut album, 'Genesis,' released in 2022, showcased an introspective exploration of '80s pop, throbbing house beats, and delicately distorted piano keys. Now, with 'Exodus,' released in November, she takes a bolder, club-oriented approach. In this exclusive interview, Merry shares insights into her creative process, influences, and the intersection of her passion for music, fashion, and visual art.
Hello, Merry Lamb Lamb. Could you please introduce yourself and describe your musical style in a few words?
My name is Merry Lamb Lamb, and my English name is Merry. I go by the name Merry Lamb Lamb because I wanted to have a stage name that feels almost anime-like and kind of like an out-of-this-world creature. Merry is my birth name that my mom gave me because she wants me to be happy every day. Ironically, I’m a pretty pessimistic person who cries a lot. (laughs)
Lamb Lamb is a nickname from my high school friends. They named me that because they always saw me as a lamb—harmless, soft, and happy.
My music has a utopian quality, and I’m drawn to the imaginative aspect of electronic music. Being a one-man band, I enjoy constructing everything myself, utilizing the endless possibilities and controllability that electronic music offers. As a computer enthusiast and anime lover, studying animation and visual arts in college naturally shaped my creative journey.
Where does your passion for music come from and how did you switch from a very visual educational background to the music?
My passion for music stems from a love for singing. In my youth, I often sang during showers, while drawing alone, and during walks in the park. Moving from Hong Kong to Toronto at 14 left me lacking confidence, blaming my parents. Singing became a therapeutic outlet, and I expressed my loneliness through cover songs in university with an acoustic guitar.
Fate intervened as I did a lot of recording, leading my current partner to discover me on Facebook. Despite my initial shyness and self-doubt, he encouraged me to pursue music and even suggested producing my own. With minimal musical knowledge, I embraced the challenge, receiving synthesizers from him. Learning from scratch through YouTube tutorials on Ableton, the experience was magical, boosting my self-confidence and providing a therapeutic outlet.
It’s beautiful to see how, as a shy teenager forced to move around by your parents, music became a means to express yourself and and how it helped channel your energy and emotions.
Reflecting on my past, I realize I couldn’t have navigated it alone. Having Merry Lamb Lamb now feels like finding my place, akin to the characters I admired on TV, especially in J-pop. The desire to be like those confident figures led me to create an anime-like, out-of-this-world persona.
In my music, I aim for relatability, as I lacked role models growing up. I want to be someone others can relate to, especially if they’re shy or lack self-trust. My goal is to show that everyone is special. I want to be the person you can turn to in joy or sadness, offering music to dance to, sharing laughter, and feeling empowered.
Can you explain a little bit about your creative process when it comes to crafting your music?
Yeah, my creative process varies. I used to do a lot of writing in notebooks, but lately, I’ve shifted from Spotify to recording sounds on my iPhone. Being in London for just three months, everything is new, and I find inspiration in the city’s sounds. For the EP Exodus, I recorded sounds from crowded places in Hong Kong, adding texture with the iPhone’s non-professional mic. I captured an ambulance’s intense and stressful sound, incorporating it into the song ‘Tranquility’ for added intensity and anger.
The process changes; sometimes, I’m inspired by visuals from my partner, who’s my art director. He captures moments, like me riding a scooter at night, creating the song ‘Romantic.’ It reflects the lonely yet romantic process of exploring a new place. I enjoy how different mediums influence my writing.
You transition between English, Cantonese, and Mandarin in your music. How do these languages help you convey different facets of your personality and artistic expression?
I find it advantageous to know three languages simultaneously. Every person is a complex creature. The English side of me is calm and reveals a melancholic aspect, seen in songs like ‘Empathy,’ which has a soothing effect.
Cantonese, being a challenging dialect, provides a direct and confident expression, not holding back on my emotions. Sometimes, I want to convey sadness, as many of my songs stem from life struggles. Mandarin adds a romantic and poetic sense with underlying meanings, which I love. Knowing three languages influences not only my expression but also how I think. It’s an advantage I cherish, allowing me to explore various perspectives.
Fashion plays an important role in your life and career. What draws you to this medium, and how do your style and fashion choices align with your music and artistic persona?
Fashion holds a significant place in my life and career, largely influenced by Japanese culture in music and fashion. My older cousin, who I admired, introduced me to Japanese fashion magazines like Cutie, Zipper, and Vivi. The vibrant colors and unique styles in these magazines captivated me, especially as Hong Kong tends to be more conservative in clothing choices.
This contrast inspired me to seek confidence and explore my fashion choices. I’ve found that fashion is an essential way for me to role-play, expressing different moods and emotions. Whether it’s black when I feel angry or vibrant colors when I’m happy, it gives me the courage to be true to myself.
Fashion, for me, is a fun and unexpected journey. Constantly exploring new possibilities and embracing the unexpected helps me express who I am and discover more about myself. It’s a creative aspect I truly love.
Could you tell us about your own fashion brand? What motivated you to launch it?
Recently, I launched a special collaboration, a capsule collection that’s a culmination of my love for grungy fashion and kawaii graphic anime tees. Growing up, I always aspired to have my own fashion brand, a space for DIY creativity and upcycling.
The collaboration came about during Chinese New Year, when I upcycled materials to infuse a new, merry approach. The concept was a ‘holy bunny’ with a grungy, feisty twist, symbolizing the imaginative cleaning team to send off old luck. It was an unexpected and fun project, and the creative freedom they gave me was an honor. This experience has fueled my desire to pursue my fashion brand, perhaps after the EP, exploring new collections and expanding my creative vision
Your previous album, “Genesis,” delves into themes of identity, dislocation, and belonging. This album holds a lovely significance for us because it was the name of our latest issue. Could you share the personal experiences or inspirations that influenced this work?
As a Christian, I drew inspiration from the poetic nature of the term, which signifies a fresh start, self-realization, and the ability to be reborn despite past struggles.
‘Genesis’ reflects my journey from feeling lost and bullied during my early years in Toronto to my music contest experience in Shanghai. The album explores phases where I sought affirmation and struggled with the authenticity of my passion for music. It’s an honest portrayal of self-discovery, acceptance of both the lovable and hateful sides, and a chance for rebirth.
Your new EP, ‘Exodus,’ was released on November 8th. How does it differ from ‘Genesis,’ and what were your main sources of inspiration?
‘Exodus,’ serves as a continuation of my journey from the previous album, “Genesis.” It mirrors Moses’ biblical journey, symbolizing my quest for an ultimate dream. Having moved from Hong Kong to Toronto, Beijing, Shanghai, and now London, the EP reflects the theme of trusting the process and facing uncertainties with courage.
The six songs chronicle a progression from searching for a sense of belonging, like in ‘Romantic’, to facing vulnerability and self-realization during COVID times.
Tracks like ‘Empathy’ and ‘Tranquility’ delve into hiding feelings and coping with the impact of the 2019 Hong Kong revolution. The intentional placement of ‘Forever’ offers hope and reflects the magical and uncertain phase of my current journey in London, trusting the process and the vision others have in me.
Do you feel home in London?
Yes, I do and I feel a connection to London. It strikes a perfect balance for me, considering my experiences in crowded Hong Kong and quieter Toronto. London, to me, is just right—not overly crowded, yet vibrant enough to explore and get to know the city.
What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects you’re working on, apart from your new album, that you can share with us?
I’m currently in a phase of exploration, drawing inspiration from the nature around my new home in Crystal Palace, London. This has sparked ideas for my next album, which might center around the theme of nature. Additionally, I’ve been working on new music and collaborating on exciting projects, including a surprise collaboration with Miso Extra and Imy, set to be released next year. I’m also diving into visual projects, particularly fashion reels, to capture the essence of London. It’s been a whirlwind three months, but I’m loving the journey and trusting the process.