Magic in the Music
This month we chat to Maria Flores, singer-songwriter, dancer and all round captivating performer! You’ll find her belting out classic jazz tunes in her beautiful voice all over town; when I met her at Le Boudoir one Wednesday night, I just had to find out more about her and what it takes to be a musician in Hong Kong.
We chat to Maria about her favourite spots in the city, what it’s like working and performing with family, and her advice for other aspiring musicians.
Tell us about your background and where you’re from.
I was born and raised here by my wonderful parents and amazing grandmother who came from the Philippines. My father worked as a musician and at the time, he formed a band where he met my mother – their lead vocalist. With that, I was raised with appreciation for music early on. And here I am!
Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I’ve lived in Sai Ying Pun for most of my life, and now at Tung Chung with my wonderful husband. Personally, home is where my heart is – which is wherever my loved ones are. Being raised in a musical environment has given me my sense of creativity and as long as I have that, I’m always at home.
How do you describe your personal style? How does it evolve and change?
Subtle but loud in a sense. My default is being comfortable, but always with a touch of things I’m inspired by daily. My style is a statement that I can rock it out – whenever, wherever I am. Definitely ever evolving!
Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
I like H&M, Cotton On, Bershka. But mostly thrift shops! There are loads of them all over – Wan Chai, Mong Kok, Jordan. I don’t have a specific place to shop, but if you’re patient enough and frugal like me, you never know what you may find for a wicked price!
Read more: Sassy’s Guide to Vintage Stores in Hong Kong
What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
Argan oil, Shea Butter and Rosewater – the more organic the better. I’m into DIYs when it comes to beauty products. Never-ending moisturisers! I like to maintain my hair every few months at a place called Blue Salon in Wan Chai. Super awesome and patient staff. Raymond is my go-to hairstylist.
What are your favourite restaurants and bars in Hong Kong?
I live for Thai food! I live for food in general (haha!), but there’s a place in Wan Chai at the entrance of the Wet Market that serves entirely authentic Thai food. The name of the restaurant is in Thai, so unfortunately I can’t name the place but you’ll easily find it near Hang Seng Bank.
Another great resto-bar that I enjoy going to with the gang is a place called El Fishawy on Third Street in Sai Ying Pun. It’s a cosy and exotic place that serves Middle Eastern food. The best place to just kick back after a long day.
Describe your perfect weekend in Hong Kong.
A good comedy movie, some good Rosé. Anything I can do that allows me to just sit and eat some bomb-diggity food with my husband is a perfect weekend for me in Hong Kong!
Tell us about your career and your passion for music. How did you end up where you are now?
My love for music has always been ingrained in me and has lead me to where I am now. Being a dance teacher by day and a vocalist by night, I realise that music has pretty much given me the opportunities I’ve had and has opened doors for me to enable my passion. I’m thankful for all these experiences that has allowed me to work on my music, and I simply hope to pursue it further and to gain more knowledge in the field that will nourish my passion.
You often perform with your father. What’s it like working with family and how do make the family dynamic work in a professional way?
It’s a generally pleasing and easy-going dynamic that we have because much of what I know now about music has come from my father. Watching him perform and interact with his audience, I learnt to pick up his work ethic which plays a huge role in the way that I perform and pretty much am. Working with my father doesn’t feel like work, as a family it’s just how we naturally come together.
What do you think of the live music scene in Hong Kong? What do you love and what do you wish would change?
At a young age I was mainly exposed to the good old standards, blues, jazz and rock & roll. So watching the live music scene evolve, it’s still very rich but has a modern touch of the digital age. Musicians now have a variety of ways to output their craft, and I’m constantly surprised by how creative everyone is striving to be! I only hope that more aspiring musicians would still acknowledge the origins of how music came about and the major role it plays in this age. Let’s learn to appreciate the different ways it has been fused with each artists’ taste. In that sense, we all love one thing – music.
Which 5 female singers or performers do you most admire and why?
Natalie Cole, Etta James, Tina Turner, Adele and Alicia Keys. I feel that they all share one thing in common that I constantly strive to express as a performer, and that’s soul. I genuinely admire performers who give their all, who aren’t just vocally outstanding, but who expresses themselves soulfully.
What’s your favourite song to perform and why?
That’s a tough one! There are so many songs out there that I love, but if there’s one song that I’m always drawn to, it’s “When I Fall In Love” by Natalie Cole. That song is absolutely timeless to me. The beauty it in being simple but deep.
Apart from singing, are there any other areas of creativity or hobbies that you enjoy?
I love to dance, I love writing my own music. I enjoy learning about Cinematography and Photography – really anything that has to do with art – I love to learn about!
What are you hopes and dreams for the future and where do you see yourself in five years time?
I just hope to be happy, doing what I love which is performing and hopefully enabling future generations to discover their art, encouraging them to pursue what they love by doing what I love despite whatever obstacles come my way.
Any advice for aspiring singers/performers in Hong Kong?
Ever-evolve. Understand that practice doesn’t necessarily mean becoming perfect, but it helps to become better than yesterday. Understand that it’s a journey with ups and downs and with that, strive to challenge yourself to push beyond your comfort zone to try new things and new styles. Let yourself make mistakes – it’s the only way to understand what works for you and what doesn’t. Last but not least, just enjoy it!
Thanks to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleProctorPhotography.
Thanks to the venue, Le Boudoir, for having us!