Let Me Tell You Something: Angela Wai Nok Hui in conversation

1st March 2022


Percussionist, multidisciplinary artist, and sound designer Angela Wai Nok Hui has had a big year. For the past 12+ months, she has focused her artistic efforts on Let Me Tell You Something, a project which comprises the release of her debut album, a set of short films, and a live show which she has performed in both Hong Kong and the UK.

Described as ‘a musical journal’, Let Me Tell You Something is an intimate and personal exploration of pertinent, universal themes such as identity, resistance, and memory, and of Angela Wai Nok’s experience as a woman from Hong Kong living far from the social and political turmoil the country has experienced in recent years.

We caught up with Angela Wai Nok in December 2021, a month after her album launch show at IKLECTIK in London, and chatted about her reflection on the project, her experience of experimenting with different artforms, and about what ‘home’ means for her.

Angela Wai Nok started her musical journey as a percussionist. This was the reason that she made the move from Hong Kong to England at the age of 13, to study at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and then at the Royal College of Music in London. She has always been curious to play and explore unconventional ways of making sound, which is perhaps what drew her to becoming a percussionist in the first place “because of her naturally hyper character”, she explains. Let Me Tell You Something is a further extension of this, as well as having more time to experiment and explore with creation during lockdown. The whole project has led Angela to the realisation that “there are so many different ways we can explore ourselves.”

“It was really me trying to figure out who I am and trying to figure out all the different media I could use to open different doors for myself to express my crazy head,” she laughs. “The whole project is me asking a question to myself. The title makes it sound like I'm telling you something I already know, but it’s more like a question to ask about all the themes I want to explore…and I don't think I will ever have the answer.”

She relates this all-encompassing creative project to her experiences of being a freelance musician. “I am the performer, I am posting all my Instagram stories, I'm doing the marketing as well, and keeping track of ticketing, and organising the transportation, I'm the driver, and I'm the gearloader, and I need to keep track of the cassette and how that's going...basically everything.”

The Let Me Tell You Something album is only part of the project, and is a collection of commissions by composers and close friends of Angela Wai Nok’s: Timothy Cape, Gregory Emfietzis, Lucy Landymore, Angus Lee, and Jasmin Kent Rodgman. Each piece explores the album’s themes in a distinct way, but they are similar in character and soundworld – quiet, minimalist, dark and at times playful. Angela Wai Nok performs all the tracks of the album, experimenting with a variety of media including toy instruments and tape machines. 

For Angela Wai Nok, the decision to make an album was a way of capturing herself at this moment in time. “The main factor in me deciding to make an album was because I wanted to document myself. I wanted to document the feelings and the emotions and my thought-bubbles during these two years, especially at this time, being a Hong-Konger, being an overseas Hong Kong woman is not easy. I want to document the Angela in this period.”

The live show element of Let Me Tell You Something is equally integral to the project, and in between lockdowns Angela Wai Nok gave performances in both London and Hong Kong. “The original stage plan for the show was to have two sets, representing Hong Kong and London, and then this toy glockenspiel in the middle, linking both places. My friend described the glock as being like a window. A peaking hole for me to look back at past trauma in Hong Kong, two or three years ago, as well as a link to sounds from my childhood.”

The live show also comprises screenings of the original films Angela Wai Nok made as part of the project with filmmaker and photographer Ilme Vysniauskaite - her first foray into filmmaking. “I asked Ilme to shoot some photos for me, and then of course we would talk about themes we'd like to explore in the photoshoot,” she explains. “That was when all of the social movements in Hong Kong were exploding. I wasn't thinking of the resistance theme before going to Ilme, it just kind of happened. And that's why a lot of the photoshoot (and filming) we did has my face censored. You can never see my whole face, there's always something covering my face, and always with a fist as well. When the pandemic hit we didn't have much to do and we thought 'oh, we should try something together'.”

Angela Wai Nok has been generous enough to share with us three of the five short films that comprise Let Me Tell You Something, and to share some context about what they mean to her. Click here to watch the films and to read her reflections.

The fifth film, titled Something You Already Know, only appears in the live show, and sums up how in some ways, Angela Wai Nok has found a ‘home’ in the Let Me Tell You Something project. “This film acts as a reminder for myself to keep going,” she explains, “it’s a pat on my shoulder saying what I am doing is correct. It’s a reminder that I should believe in what I'm doing, and it’s a reminder to my friends and family in Hong Kong that we should keep going. It’s going to be hard, but we should just keep going in the same direction.

“These films and this project as a whole is a collection of letters to my future self, reflecting on my past self. I'll probably feel different in a few years time, looking back… I'll let you know.”


Let Me Tell You Something is out now on the nonclassical label – click here to listen and buy.

Watch the short films

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