Alex Lam, the renowned singer-songwriter and yoga master, is one of those rare artists who can truly inject fun and creativity into every ounce of his work. The word “commercial” doesn’t seem to exist in his vocabulary. We sit down with our first-ever cover star to talk happiness, his latest projects, and where he got his distinctive California vibe.
Thank you for being ECHELON’s first-ever cover star! This is our fourth issue, as well as our Fun Issue. So first up, what’s the definition of fun to you?
I always ask myself: When was the last time I was happy? Am I happy? What is happiness? A lot of times, when I’m asked this question, it equates to: Am I having fun? Usually when I find myself having fun, it means I’m really happy. Often, when I can answer yes to those questions is when I have some free time by myself to do yoga. I look at myself in the mirror while stretching out my body and having lots of fun.
Besides yoga, music is also something I really enjoy doing. When I’m creating music and getting to play music live, I get a really big high. And in those moments on stage, even though they happen really fast, I’m having enormous amounts of fun. I feel like I’m in a special zone. Sometimes when I perform music on stage, I even surprise myself. “Hey, how did I do that? I haven’t really practised that!” Or sometimes when I’ve practised something for a long time and I can finally put it to use, that makes me really happy, too.
Also, I’m trying to take the focus away from myself at times. Giving other people happiness can also make you happy. I realise I can be too self-centred sometimes, and I’m trying to learn how to provide fun and happiness for other people.
Last year was a tough time for many artists. How do you feel about this most unusual time? Do you think it has brought a negative or a positive change?
For me, it’s very important to remind ourselves to be positive. If you look back in history, humankind has been through a lot of difficult periods, and often you hear a lot of inspirational stories where people went through struggles, had breakthroughs, and came out stronger. So for me, it’s very important to stay positive – you’ll find momentum, even though it’s tough. You’ll find a path, even though it seems like there’s none.
What impact has that mentality had on you?
The direct impact is that it makes me a lot more hands-on and more active in learning a lot of new things. I used to put things aside or rely on other people to do, for example, video editing and sound mixing for music production. I’m lucky to have producers and friends who can do that, but now I’m trying to take on these jobs myself this year. I’m still very amateur, but I’m improving. I’m enjoying the process of learning and it’s kind of given me a thirst to learn more, because I feel like we shouldn’t have any excuses – we should be able to take up new challenges and tasks. With so many lockdowns and restrictions between people seeing each other, we have to be independent and rely on ourselves more.
How do you incorporate fun and positivity into your creations?
I think a kind of fun and positivity is letting go of yourself and getting your brain out of the way. We can always plan and prepare as much as possible, but a lot of the greatest moments of fun and creativity happen in the moment, on the spot, when you’re actually doing them. I don’t have a philosophy; I just dive right into the deep end! Get your hands dirty and try to find yourself when you’re failing. Often, it’s when you’re struggling that you discover lots of surprises.
Have you picked up or restarted any hobbies?
Yes – skateboarding is definitely at the top of the list! A few months ago, I picked up my teenage hobby again and I’ve discovered that I approach it differently now. When I was young, I had a no-fear and more energetic approach. Now that I’m older, though, I have to use my mind a little bit more – and I do have to say that nowadays I’m more resourceful. Back then, if there was a trick I wanted to learn, I’d just have to figure it out by myself or ask a friend who could do it. But now there are so many YouTube tutorials available!
What do you normally do to motivate yourself and the people around you?
I try to set a good example for others in terms of health, diet, and work. I always try to finish a project, video, or song to the best of my ability. Also, keeping myself healthy, even with a busy lifestyle – keeping my yoga practise and my gym up, and trying to look sharp. Hopefully through the high level I try to keep myself at, I can inspire and motivate other people, too. You can’t really change anyone, but you can inspire them through your own hard work.
Can you share any of your upcoming plans for this year? Any new challenges or goals you’ve set for yourself?
We’re creating an event that incorporates elements such as fashion, music, performance, and videography and are going to escort a group of hand-selected VIP guests to experience an immersive performance centred on a friend’s denim brand; it’s going to take place at another friend’s venue. We’re trying to create an incredibly unique, never-been-done-before experience. I’ve definitely never been to an event in Hong Kong like what we’ll be doing. I’ve been to events abroad that are similar – for example, Sleep No More, where you’re immersed in an environment with a story attached. It’s a big challenge and we’re really putting our entire heart into this project. It’s an experience and we don’t know whether we can do it yet, but we’re definitely very confident.
What tips do you have for our readers in order to have fun and enjoy life?
I’d say good health is essential. That’s the main key to opening the door of fun. When your body is functioning well, you have the capacity to do much more, and that opens the doors to other fun and creative things. I can speak from experience, because I remember when I was young and I started doing yoga, I really took control of my health – and it provided me a stronger foundation to explore other things like music.
JARVIS WAN & JASON TO @BLACK CAT IMAGE
VIVIEN WONG & RICKY LO
HIN WAN @IIALCHEMY