Meeting Sonia Ka Ian Lao at a coffee shop in Macau might seem just a regular day for anyone. The proud of mother of two gorgeous daughters lovingly showed us the photographs on her phone as we met her for the first time before her Hush! Music Festival performance. In between duties as a wife, mother and maintaining a full-time job, the busy wonder woman pursues her passion for music.
While Sonia is the main singer of the band Evade, she is also an Indie musician who plays electronica, ambient and dream pop. She composes and writes songs and was awarded for soundtrack work on a film. Proudly calling Macau her home, the down-to-earth artist has released her second album this year.
Tell us about your artistic journey.
I studied Chinese literature in a Taiwan university although I had interest in music at an early age. My interest was more with singing when I was five or six years old. I always listened to the radio and we had a cassette then and I loved hearing Hong Kong pop singers.
What’s a poignant moment in your musical growth?
When my second daughter was born, I felt an intense emotion and I wanted to do some songs. My music was somehow inspired by that moment in life. I guess boredom mixed with passion and I wanted to write and there was a drive to create music so I learned software to make music by myself. Youtube was very significant in my learning experience. I think it’s amazing and it makes learning accessible for everyone. It’s user-friendly as well. That’s how I eventually created and was able to release my first solo album. I am proud that I tried and learned by myself and experimented. The album was very good and well received and the audience had great feedback so it was really heartwarming.
Do you have any memorable performances?
I got invited to Shanghai to perform and collaborate on a project with musicians from Europe. I worked with artists from Denmark and this project they had Chinese musicians and other European artists. I definitely learned many things and the whole experience was meaningful to me.
Who are your musical influences?
Musicians such as Bjork, Grimes, Niza, Autumn’s Grey Solace, Cocteau Twins, Late Night Alumni, Margo Guryan, Radiohead, Blur and 90’s HK Pop Songs.
How is it being a female artist in Macau?
I have young listeners but I think they are a diverse group of listeners as well. The music appreciation of my genre has a wide reach even if there are not many platforms to perform as a musician. We have LMA in Macau but showcasing music, that’s the challenge as a musician.
My music is not mainstream and not the main culture so it can be tough sometimes. Maybe that is why I have a full-time job and making music is only a hobby. But, please don’t get me wrong. I am very very happy doing it. I believe music is one of the most important things in life. It’s a way to express yourself, your mind and emotions.
What advice would you give to budding musicians in Macau?
If my daughter wants to play music, then I would say, “I think if you like something and you want to do it, you must go and follow your dream”. Macau might be a very small place but if you like to perform, you will find your own way and path.
The watercolor painting of the album cover is by Genevieve Elliot from Paris. The design work of the album is by Jason Vong from Macau. Follow Sonia’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/soniakaianlao and listen to her on Soundcloud soundcloud.com/soniakaianlao