Interview with Hanging Up The Moon
Interview with Hanging Up The Moon Songwriter, Sean Lam
By: Edwin Fong
Initially starting out as a solo project in 2011 by Sean Lam (age 41), ex-frontman of Concave Screams, one of Singapore’s pioneer indie bands, Hanging Up The Moon is now a five-man group. The band consists of good friends and fellow music veterans: Dean Aziz (Concave Scream), Leslie Low (The Observatory), Viktor Low (Affixen) and Alexius Cai (Piblokto). Together, they make tranquil and slightly downcast folk indie music. As of now, they have released a total of three albums with “Immaterial” being their latest.
The band’s songwriter and starter Sean Lam doesn't make music full time. He works full time at Plate Interactive, a boutique interactive agency that handles web design needs. It has mostly been a balancing act for him, being responsible for his family and handling his day job which takes up most of his time. “I was only able to record my songs in the dead of night,” said the busy songwriter, thus the name Hanging Up The Moon.
Sean gets his music inspirations from “everything that happens around him”. He uses music to cope with his feelings. He said: “Almost all my songs are based on life experiences, both good and bad.” Although he does admit that he tends to dwell on the negatives but once in awhile he is inspired by “nice thoughts”.
Their latest album title, Immaterial, describes the underlying sentiment that binds the songs together into one album. One that reads “nothing matters anymore.” “The title also conjures up images of beauty, the kind of residual beauty that is only observable when everything else has diminished. Hence the taxidermy themed album artwork,” he said.
Over the years as the band got bigger, it has managed to stay close to its roots. He explains that the band has “managed to retain a certain quiet quality to most of the songs. It may not stay this way forever though.”
As a child, Sean attended classical piano lessons but never made it past his grade four. When asked why, he said he found the lessons too regimental and technical. “So much so that it killed the joy of music making,” he added.
Only in his late teens did he come back to find the joy of music. He eventually picked up the guitar and has been playing by ear ever since. He can’t read notations and does admittedly feel inadequate at times when working with schooled musicians but less so these days.
He has learned that you don’t need to be technically proficient to write songs and that is evident in his music. However, music school is still on his to-do list. “It’s probably something I’d pick up in my retirement years,” he said.
Explaining his challenges so far, he mentions his recent album launch at the Substation on 29 and 30 May this year as a “logistical nightmare.” A 14-piece band was up at the show, complete with a strings and percussion sections. A persistent flu also plagued them during practice sessions, going round each band member.
“Most of us recovered in time for the performance but during the last show on the 30th, Alexius was feverish and fighting a full blown case whilst on stage,” he exclaimed. Sean is still amazed at how he managed to retain his composure the whole time.
“There is a higher acceptance of music made locally than ever before post 1960s,” he said. Sean mentions how the local music scene has been doing better and many local musicians as of late have made inroads in our popular mainstream culture and that is something worth celebrating. “It is also heartening to see musicians from other genres continue to push their musical boundaries and garner success in peripheries,” he added.
Staying in the music scene can be a challenge here in Singapore but Sean stays confident and is sure that his passion will pull him through. “Keep it real and enjoy it for what it is. If the music’s in you, it will stay with you and you will somehow find a way to keep going,” he said.
In the next few years, he just sees himself doing the same thing calmly as time passes by. “Stuck on this island paying my taxes and watching my kid grow up.. but hopefully still producing albums bi-annually,” he concluded.
Hanging Up In the Moon’s latest album, Immaterial, is now available and can be purchased at: