per se is a music duo comprised of music talents: Stephen Mok and Sandy Ip. The name means intrinsic or in itself, which reflects the duo’s music being just music without the limitations and burdens of genre or style.
Throughout the years, per se has performed at music festivals such as Clockenflap (HK) and Strawberry Music Festival (SH) and have been nominated for Best Overseas Artist by GMA (TW) and CASH Best Arrangement and Best Group Performance (HK).
Live Nation chatted with the duo to find out a bit more about their music! Get to know per se ahead of their ‘am i still…LIVE?’ virtual performance.
Thanks for taking the interview. Can you introduce yourself? E.g. where are you from, music background, etc.
Hi! We’re per se (Stephen & Sandy) from Hong Kong. We’re a poetic pop duo and sing mainly in Cantonese and English. Growing up we were both classically trained in music but also played in a punk rock band together.
Our music style “poetic pop” is mainly a songwriting philosophy more than a genre. We like to decide on concepts for our songs and albums beforehand and then write suitable music to match the topic. The genre would then become whatever it needed to be.
We are interested in how you all got together and formed the duo. Please tell us more!
Around 11 years ago we used to both play in a 4-piece punk rock band, but it came to a point where we were not writing material that felt new and inspiring. So on and off we had this duo as a side project where we would just write music not limited to any genre and experimented with instruments we were unfamiliar with. Just the nature of not being limited to using our usual instruments surprisingly became freeing and after a while we decided that we wanted to develop this project into something more serious. This project became per se and since then we’re been writing concept albums revolving around topics we wanted to explore.
Is there any special meaning of the name per se?
The word per se in Latin means intrinsic which was the attitude we had when we first started writing music for this duo. Nothing limited to genre, instruments or expectation. Every time we write music it’s like writing on a fresh and blank piece of paper. We set a concept to follow but never know what the song will end up being like.
Who/ what inspired you to start a career in music?
Sandy: I worked in an office job unrelated to music for two years and for two years straight Stephen would bug me every day asking me to become a professional musician so eventually I gave it a try.
Stephen: Since a kid I always wanted to work in the music industry. Throughout my university years I wanted to become a music producer and after graduating I was a music engineer at different studios for a few years. As much as I enjoyed it - I eventually wanted to be the one creating the music instead of assisting.
How would you describe your music to someone who's never seen you play before?
We would describe our music as an audible image, music that invokes imagery and scenarios in one’s mind (hopefully). We’re fans of movie soundtracks and like with soundtracks we want the music to help the listener sink into the environment.
What is your most favorite track released so far and why?
Sandy: “天空塌下前” relates to myself as someone who forgets easily. It’s like a comforting and hopeful song for me when I have fear of losing all my memories in the future.
Stephen: “Circles” because it is a song about how we are all trapped within the construct of time and how each decision we make impacts our future. As pessimistic as that sounds it’s been a good reminder for me on how I should spend my time on things I enjoy doing and find meaningful.
And what’s your favorite song to perform live?
Sandy: “Missing Grass” is a fun-to-play piano piece overall. Every time I play it, my mind wanders into another dimension, which is hard to describe it in words.
Stephen: “親愛的幽靈” because it was one of our first upbeat songs ever written and every time we play it live I feel the energy we give out reflecting from the audience.
If you could collaborate with three artists in your upcoming project, who would they be and why?
Serrini, Panther Chan and Sweet John. These 3 units simply because their music styles are all very unique and it’s always exciting to see what they try to do next. One of these collabs are actually already on the way!
Which three albums have had the greatest influence on your life?
Sandy: “Goodbye Lullaby” by Avril Lavigne. Avril has a powerful and very articulate voice. Her works always inspire me and the album made me realize how great music can travel through time despite the trend.
Stephen: “#4” by 凛として時雨. I remember listening to this album back in 2006 and was in shock because it was nothing like anything I have ever listened to before. Literally music from Mars. Definitely only listen to this if you’re open minded.
Mutually it would be “New Again” by Taking Back Sunday simply because it’s one of the first albums we talked about together and both got hooked on it when it first came out. The album helped us understand each other’s music tastes more in a sense.
We are very excited about your virtual performance! What can we expect?
We are also extremely excited about our virtual performance. It has been too long! We’ve prepared an intimate and tight set which includes some of our favorite songs as well as our latest. We hope that you’ll feel right at home. See you there!
Watch per se's performance on Live From Home:
Friday, September 11, 9pm local time
• Live Nation Asia (YouTube) - https://www.youtube.com/c/LiveNationAsiaOfficial
• Live Nation China -https://www.livenation.cn/livefromhome
• Live Nation Hong Kong -https://www.livenation.hk/livefromhome
• Live Nation Taiwan -https://www.livenation.com.tw/livefromhome
• Live Nation Malaysia -https://www.livenation.my/livefromhome
• Live Nation Singapore -https://www.livenation.sg/livefromhome
• One Production Singapore - https://www.facebook.com/OneProductionSingapore
• PR Worldwide - https://www.facebook.com/PRWorldwide