Soho Rising: Dough-Boy
As part of our Soho Rising series, Soho House Head of Music, Dom Chung, spotlights members making waves in the music industry. Here, one of Hong Kong’s biggest hip-hop stars charts the course of his already acclaimed career
By Otamere Guobadia, with thanks to Gavin Yeung Images courtesy of Dough Boy Wednesday 30 September, 2020 Short read
Dough-Boy wasn’t always the shiny, centre-stage rap prodigy that he is now. Similarly, the Hong Kong hip-hop scene has radically transformed over his decade-long tenure, which saw his early music presence rooted largely in producing. ‘It wasn’t like a career – I was still in school. I was trying to make music for people, [hoping] some artists would pick up my beats,’ he explains. His now undeniable success almost stands as a proxy for just how far the scene itself has come. ‘When I first started out, people were actually selling CDs. It was still a thing to drop an album in CD format,’ he says. ‘And then the format changed, the sound changed, how people consumed the music changed... the attention span of everyone is changing. Back then, you had songs that were four minutes long [as the standard]. And nowadays it’s like two and a half minutes, because no one’s gonna give you that much time,’ he laughs.
Charting his course to the top of Hong Kong’s music scene hasn’t been an easy ride for Dough-Boy, nor has it necessarily been a linear one. Having won ‘Best Original Song’ at the Hong Kong Film Awards for a track he penned at the tender age of 24, he found himself almost frozen out of opportunity by many in the industry who thought they wouldn’t be able to afford such a young hotshot.
But perhaps the most delicate balancing act is the negotiation between artistic integrity – his internal drive and passion to pursue music – and satisfying a consumer base. ‘The other balance [to strike] is between what you want to do as an artist, what you want to express, and what your audience like,’ he muses. ‘You kind of have your target audience, but then you can’t really choose it. Once your product, or your art, or your music is out there, you can’t decide [who consumes it]. Sometimes, I’ll just do what I like, and other times it’s like, “Let’s see if I can cater to them” – it’s always a balance between these things,’ he explains.
‘So, I actually have this album pretty much done,’ he says when talk turns to the future. ‘Every song is a collab with someone else. I dropped two singles already; one is with my friend Barry [Chen] from Taiwan, [and the other] is a collab with my friend Lil Yachty from Atlanta. The album is full of these songs. I’m just gonna drop it sometime soon, I guess.’
‘For my next project, I still want to keep doing these collabs, or even step back from being the rapper,’ he says. ‘I might just do the producer role, make the songs and then everyone else sings on [them].’ It’s also clear that he’s exploring creative endeavours outside of music: ‘Me and my friend who directs all my music videos have been writing this script for a TV series.’ They’d thought about diving straight into a feature film, but decided short TV episodes might be an easier transition from their music video projects. ‘We’re not able to handle a movie [yet],’ he says. Although one has little doubt that big-screen endeavours haven’t seen the last of him.
Dough-Boy’s star is undeniably on the up, even if the down-to-earth pleasantness evident in his voice and manner might tell you otherwise – and it undoubtedly still has further to rise. The key to his success? ‘The people around me. The colours that I see, the movies that I see, my feelings towards all these things that I see around me, I translate them into music,’ he laughs.