A lawyer who rediscovered her love of music upon landing in Hong Kong, Lucille Kante talks about giving up the law to fully immerse herself in the world of music and Rage by Awen.
Yes. Yes, we can definitely say that the music and culture scene in Hong Kong is getting more diverse. From jazz bars to indie music venues, music is fast becoming more accessible across the city. And events company Rage by Awen plans on taking things up a notch further. Having launched the first in a series of tributes to Nina Simone a few months ago, we sat down with Lucille Kante, stage name: Awen, to talk about her plans to bring a greater selection of music events to The 852.
Rage by Awen: An interview with Lucille Kante
Hi, Lucille. Thanks so much for sitting down with us here at Lilya today. Start off by telling us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in Hong Kong.
Sure. So, I’m half French and half Senegalese. I grew up in France, partly in Paris but mainly in the south of France, and I did study classical music for 12 years, playing the clarinet and doing a little bit of singing when I was younger. I studied law in Paris, and when I went to university I stopped the music. Six years ago, I moved to Shanghai and I’ve been in Hong Kong for about four and a half years, and Hong Kong is where I found music again.
I started performing here in a band, and I was in The Fiasco at Carbone for around 14 months. The hobby became a part-time job and the part-time job has become a full-time job: Rage by Awen.
What’s Rage by Awen all about then?
The Hong Kong scene is quite unique as there’s not much help from the government, as far as I can see. Creativity here has difficulty growing. But there are a lot of talented people here, and lots of people who are eager to create new things. So, I think I felt the need to create my own company because I want to organise events that I want to attend myself. Also, in Hong Kong it’s basically always the same thing. People always go to the same venues, see the same people etc. I wanted to create something different, and I wanted to collaborate with a range of people, so it was just easier to start my own company.
So, it started with the idea of creating new kinds of events, and collaborating with people. We did the first big event for Art Basel, for LACMA. And it was an amazing thing, but as much as I enjoy organising events and the creativity that comes from the story-telling behind them, I realised that I want to perform more. So, now all these events we’re organising, I’m trying to perform in them too.
Rage by Awen is all about music, on 26 September, we’re having the second Nina Simone Tribute. It’s a series of events in conjunction with Salon 10, and at the end of the performance, the guests will decide who we will pay tribute to in the next one, so I’m quite excited about that.
I do a lot of deep house gigs too, where I collaborate with DJs. For example, we have a gig coming up at Woobar at the end of September with a group of female performers, a harp player who plays a lot on techno, and I will be singing some of my own songs, so that’s another one I’m really looking forward to.
Tell me about the music you write and where you find your influences.
My own music is very eclectic. If I had to choose, I would say there would be some deep house on the one side, but also some folk, as I love folk music. I know it’s funny because they are quite the opposites, but for me music is like travel, you move from one place to another and that’s what I want to convey through my music. Even with my lyrics, I will always try and talk about stories that I know, or my story and put out stories of love and compassion. When it comes to influences, I love Motown music, and performers like Ray Charles, Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder.
What was it like moving from the world of law into the music industry?
It’s funny actually. My first big contract actually came from the Law Society, organising a big charity ball for 450 people, I’m performing as well, so the law really has helped me with my passion. Initially moving from working as a lawyer to being in this creative field was difficult, like a full split without the warm-up (laughs), but being in Hong Kong helped a lot.
Is there any venue in Hong Kong where you’d like to perform in the future?
There is one venue where I’d really, really love to perform one day, and I’m hoping that that’s going to happen! It’s Cassio. It’s my favourite club, and when I’m in Hong Kong I’m there at least once a week. I really like what the owner of the club has done with it, so if one day I have the chance to perform there, I will be very happy.
What are your hopes for the future with Rage by Awen?
First, I hope I can provide new events to Hong Kong on a regular basis. Then, I hope that I can create a brand here that basically I can export everywhere. I’m hoping to take the brand to Berlin, London and hopefully one day Mykonos, so my goal is to take the success from Hong Kong abroad, maybe to Burning Man one day? Who knows. But for now, it’s one step at a time.
Photography location: Lilya