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interview

Kristina Lao

Singer-songwriter, actor and arts advocate

Kristina Lao is a multi-national interdisciplinary artist from Hong Kong. Acting credits include UK national tours, a Netflix series and award-winning short films.

Kristina Lao

Where are you based?

I’m currently based in Vancouver, Canada.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I have my own company, Kristina Lao Entertainment, where I  work as an actor (film, TV and commercials), a singer-songwriter (debut album coming out this year), and a consultant specialising in career pathways in Media & Entertainment. I’m also on the Board of Directors for Provincial Music Industry Association, Music BC, and a moderator and host for panels within the entertainment industry.

What are you listening to?

Right now I’m listening to Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 Collaborations (on repeat – it’s SO GOOD), Sia, and a ton of BC local music for a songwriting challenge that I produced over the last month. I also listen to releases from local labels like Snakes x Ladders and Monstercat. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Apple Music’s Pure Focus playlist… I tend to listen to either classical or binary beats/ focus music during work hours.

How do you discover new music?

Until recently, I would be out at local shows at least four or five times a month, so I discovered a lot of local music through events, and conversations held at those events. I’ve listened to a lot of local music through the advocacy work I do in the community. As a writer, I tend to listen to pop and commercial playlists on Apple Music and Spotify. Almost all my friends work in the industry, as engineers, producers, event promoters and label managers, so I get to hear a wide variety of music across different genres.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

Until last week, I still bought full albums to play on my phone (iTunes). I do listen to a lot of music on Youtube. I FINALLY got Apple Music a week ago, and it has been great for playlists and discovering new music from around the world. Typically, I run around a lot for auditions and recording sessions, so I like the convenience of all the music I want in one place. I do have a CD player in my car, though, so every now and then I’ll break out the CD case and listen to Paul Simon’s Graceland or The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. I think there’s still a lot to be said about listening to an album start to finish, and I do miss that about modern playlists and releases. I feel like albums are a whole conversation, but today’s mediums only give us one sentence.

To me, nothing beats hearing music live. I can’t wait to go and see a show again.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

I listen to most of my music through my laptop, simply for ease. I almost always have my Yamaha HPH-MT8s with me, because I record a lot, and they’re a great, comfortable set of headphones that aren’t too expensive. I have a Harman Kardon Onyx Studio Bluetooth speaker for home listening. I live in an apartment, so I can’t deck out my sound system the way I’d like to – my neighbours would be very unimpressed!

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I guess I do that by attending shows and meeting people who send me their new releases. I don’t go searching for it, per se.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I find that there are so many platforms and so much choice that it can be overwhelming at times. I do like the fact that there is so much available to us, though – perhaps I just have to figure out how to use the streaming platforms that I have in a more efficient way. I’m a lazy audience member, really – I like fewer clicks to get to a good playlist, rather than searching through lots of options before I find one I like.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I add them to my favourites list, or, if I really like a song, I’ll buy the album and keep it on iTunes and listen through. I feel like the platforms we use are tracking the songs we like the most all the time, so it’s easier than ever to have your favourite songs, artists and genres saved.

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I do! I normally text them a YouTube link (to me, that’s the easiest way to ensure they can open it). I use my social media channels to promote local music as well – I’m a big believer in supporting local artists and their work.

Anything you want to “promote”?

I think the Province of British Columbia has some of the most incredible talent, and a very unique sound. I’d highly recommend listening to channels like Monstercat Instinct and Snakes x Ladders. From a curation standpoint, I love Locals Lounge, who have a conversation with local artists and hear songs from them before they stream their shows live on various platforms.

I feel like albums are a whole conversation, but today’s mediums only give us one sentence.

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