We chat to singer-songwriter Celine Ng about the inspiration behind her music, her biggest achievements and more…
Charismatic, determined and down-to-earth, Celine is a HK-based singer-songwriter who releases pop music with R&B undertones and electronic inflections. Producing under the name WANYI, her debut singles “Meet Me Tonight”, “All In” and “Our Escape” have received more than 250,000 streams on Spotify. Celine shares her most meaningful moments (it’s incredibly humbling!), her 2020 goals and how she manages work-life-balance as she pursues what she’s most passionate about: creating and sharing music.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Celine and my artist name, WANYI, comes from my given name in Mandarin, 宛儀. I’m Singaporean, but I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I went to Chinese International School and then to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts on a scholarship, where I studied songwriting and performance. I graduated from Berklee in 3 years, and in 2018 I moved to Taipei to explore the music scene there (at that time I was also traveling to Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu), but I moved back to Hong Kong in 2019 as my family is based here. Since then, I have been working between Hong Kong and London, as most of my team is in the UK.
Can you tell us a little more about your music? What encouraged you to become a singer-songwriter?
I like my lyrics to feel very personal, almost like they’re diary entries. As a singer-songwriter, I write all of my own music. I would describe my sound as pop, with hints of R&B and electronic inflections. I love using analog sounds inspired by the 80s and 90s in my music.
My latest single ‘Our Escape’ was just released on 14 August. I adore this song and I’m really happy that I can finally share it with everyone. To me, ‘Our Escape’ feels like summer. It’s that romantic getaway scene in a movie. You’re with your favourite person, blue skies overhead, wind blowing in your hair. It’s really uplifting and reminds me of big open spaces.
Music has always been a huge part of my life. Songwriting is a lot like journaling, and I really enjoy the entire creative process – coming up with ideas and working with them, eventually making something substantial (that you can sing to!) from nothing. Finishing a song feels so amazing and it is such a unique experience to hear someone else sing or play your music back to you.
There’s so much that comes with writing songs and sharing music. Can you share your most meaningful milestone?
My dad told me that he heard my songs playing at the gym. At first I didn’t believe him so he sent me a video as proof… That was pretty surreal!
What about your biggest milestone outside of WANYI?
In my personal life – I think becoming an aunt.
What do you do in your downtime?
I practice yoga regularly, around 3-4 times a week. I love the meditative quality and spiritual aspects of yoga, but I also love that I feel stronger and more in tune with my body afterwards. It’s great to feel that I’ve already accomplished something that day, and have my next practice as something to look forward to.
What are three things you do to maintain work-life balance in your day-to-day?
- I make sure I do some sort of physical exercise every day, whether it’s weights at the gym or some kind of cardio, even if it’s just a walk after a meal. Finding sports to enjoy really helps – aside from practicing yoga, I recently picked up tennis again. I have also been doing some hikes around Hong Kong.
- Though I can’t drink too much (I’m a lightweight and get very red, very quickly), I enjoy the occasional glass of wine. I’m a fan of Burgundies and German Rieslings.
- I spend a lot of time with family. I’m very lucky to have people I care about who care about me. It’s incredibly supportive.
What makes Hong Kong feel like home for you? Being born and raised here, what do you think makes someone a Hongkonger?
Hong Kong feels like home to me because I grew up here and my family is here. It’s familiar. I also love the fact that Hong Kong is so international. I think a Hongkonger is anyone who loves the city and calls it home.
What are 5 goals you have for this year?
- Finish my EP.
- Gain more listeners.
- Play more live shows.
- Hit my Apple Watch move goals more consistently.
- Start sleeping earlier.
What are your favourite (fiction/non-fiction) books to read?
Probably A Song of Ice and Fire and the Harry Potter series. I love fantasy and dystopian literature. I can’t wait for George R. R. Martin to release the final two books so we can all know the real ending to Game of Thrones.
If you had one piece of advice to give to aspiring musicians out there, what would it be?
Work hard, be patient, and get serious about honing your craft. To be a musician in this digital age means you have to have a versatile skill set, and be able to adapt.