Angela Chan is a multi-instrumentalist based in Leeds, United Kingdom! Angela has toured internationally with various bands, and one of her bands, Cosmos, just released their debut album “Dream Harder!” Her musical prowess has spanned from classical to circus rave bands to theatre, film, and art installations! In addition, one of her bands, Lanterns on the Lake, has been shortlisted for a Mercury Prize! Keep reading to find out what makes Angela an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Angela Chan
Heritage: Malaysian Chinese
Hometown: Born in Manchester, UK, raised in Morecambe
Current City: Leeds, UK
No session work or touring for me this year so more time to be creative. We’ve just finished a new Lanterns on the Lake EP called The Realist. That will be out just before Christmas. Hello Cosmos, another band I’m in, released our debut album ‘Dream Harder’ at the end of November. I'm also working on a solo album. May as well make the most out of staying in!
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
I hate choosing favourites! I’ve gotten so much from each project I’ve been involved in. If I had to name a few... The Long Walk - an emotional community arts project led by More Music that went from Morecambe to Hong Kong (and other places in between), playing in circus rave band Slamboree at the wildest festivals in Europe, working with Interplay Theatre making music for their multi-sensory productions, performing under the Lovell Telescope with Lanterns on the Lake backed by the Royal Northern Sinfonia, playing at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Fest with Placebo…..
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I am a high school dropout with two degrees.
I am dangerously addicted to savoury crispy foods.
I sleep talk, apparently.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
Again, it’s a 'favourite' question so I’m struggling. I think I have been blessed with many special moments and I've yet to decide the ultimate favourites. I generally find myself laughing in disbelief on the inside about how I’ve ended up in certain situations.
Finding out we [Lanterns on the Lake] had been shortlisted for a Mercury Prize during lockdown this year was quite surreal, especially as we were miles apart and unable to celebrate together.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Have faith in yourself and try not to compare yourself to others too much.
Take chances to connect with others, you never know where things lead.
Don’t let anyone bully you into things you don’t want to do!
How did you get your start?
I feel like it's one of those ‘one thing led to another’ stories, but I’m not really sure where it started. Before moving to Leeds, I played in orchestras, chamber ensembles, dabbled in open mics, I even sang in a reggae ska band for a short while! At uni, I carried on doing similar things but I was also intrigued about playing viola in a band. I answered a Gumtree ad which led me to join Tomorrow We Sail. Through them I learned how to play on amplified stages and crafting sounds (they don't teach you about pick ups, PAs and pedals when you study classical music). After I started playing and recording with them, I was asked to play and tour with other bands too. I’m never happy just doing one thing though so I started exploring recording and production which then led me to do some cool stuff with theatres, film and art installations.
Who do you admire?
There’s so much division right now, a lot of loud angry voices. I admire people who are able to offer kindness and compassion, people who are able to elevate others and help communities to be better.
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I didn't really know what I wanted to be growing up. At various points, I wanted to be a tap dancer, lawyer, athlete, translator.... When I left school I worked in banking and insurance. It was ok, but not for me. My other passion is food. I’ve dabbled in various projects along the way. Like I say, I’m not good at sticking to just one thing.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
When I was working at the bank, I carried on having lessons, played music with friends, played in a local orchestra, and after a couple of years I realised that music as a hobby wasn’t enough for me so I made a plan to get the money and qualifications I needed to go to university. I took the plunge and haven’t looked back since.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between shows to pay the bills?
Aside from hospitality jobs? I’ve been a 'play assistant'. The organisation I worked for intercepted waste destined for landfill and repurposed them for arts and crafts projects. We'd take these materials into schools and encourage kids to let their imaginations run wild out on the playground. They’d re-create games, invent new ones, build structures, all sorts. I basically got paid to play. That was pretty fun. Last year, out of curiosity, I signed up to count votes for the UK General Election. I saw a surprising number of dicks drawn on ballot papers. That was enlightening.
Do you have any other “special skills?”
Did I mention I love food and cooking? Is that a special skill? I’ve been getting really into making chilli oils over lockdown. Also been trying to re-create all the amazing food I grew up with. My mum’s family are Malaysian Hakka Chinese. They really know how to put on a feast. I want to be able to carry that on.
Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?
Please check out my bands! We're on the usual streaming sites: Tomorrow We Sail, Hello Cosmos, Lanterns on the Lake.
Not so much a side project but I’m trying to do more as a producer. The pandemic has made me realise how little I do outside of bands. Hit me up if you have an interesting idea!
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Financial stability is a big one. I’ve dealt with this by aggressively budgeting when it's needed.
Another thing is direction. There’s not really a manual for classical violists turned….I don’t know what I am.
Challenges, yes, but also part of the excitement so hard to complain really.
Where did you study at?
Undergrad - University of Leeds (Music),
Masters - Leeds Beckett University (Music Production)
Just need a PhD from another Leeds institution and I will have a hat trick.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
At the moment, try to stay positive and look to the future, be proactive.
Last year I played my first ever solo show as Ameiyi, something I have never done before because I am absolutely terrified of playing by myself. I’m now slowly working up to a solo album and hoping to release it next year. That'll be a massive tick on the list of goals!
What do you love most about what you do?
I love most things about my job! I get to combine so many loves into one. Playing music with people and getting to meet all sorts of characters, travelling and seeing new places. I love that music has so many pathways and constantly evolving on so many different levels. It's never dull and nor are the people behind it.
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
Learning what a pick up was and that they exist for string instruments. Thanks Semay.
To find out more about Angela, please visit her at:
IG/Twitter/FB: @achanmusic and @amei_yi
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