A man of the world

A man of the world

Singer-songwriter Khalil Fong was born in Hawaii, moved with his family to Shanghai at the age of six, and then eventually to Hong Kong.

In a way, traces of that peripatetic past can be found in his music.

Beginning from his debut Mandarin album Soul Boy (2005), he has drawn on a dizzying array of music influences from R&B, jazz, pop, rock, funk and, of course, soul. His latest album, Dangerous World (2014), was even influenced by hip-hop.

Speaking in English over the telephone from Hong Kong, he says: "I got used to adapting to different cultures at a young age. The world citizen perspective is also deeply ingrained in my religious beliefs."

Fong, 31, is Baha'i - the religion emphasises the spiritual unity of all mankind.

He adds: "I don't separate music into genres. I could listen to the poppiest pop there is as well as the odd-sounding indie stuff and I like it the same, depending on my mood. I like all of it and I try to have that attitude in my music, so hopefully my fans get a bit of that music appreciation mentality as well."

He will be bringing his multi-faceted music to The Star Theatre on Oct 11 for his first major concert here.

The concept for his new record is something that has been weighing on his mind for some time, given the barrage of negative news one is constantly faced with.

"I wanted to write an album that is relevant to what's going on and put the idea out there that before the world gets too dangerous, hopefully mankind can work something out and find a better way to deal with these situations," he says.

While he makes message music, he is careful not to be didactic about it.

"One of the underlying messages that's always in my music is about world unity and if everyone can embrace that, it would help in many areas," he says.

"I try my best to put out positive messages in my music, but I don't like to be too preachy."

He does not see himself as a starry- eyed idealist either, even though he is optimistic that things will get better.

He reasons: "Right now, we're at a time when we're all connected through the Internet. You'll have a choice in your attitude of fellowship and wanting to know more about other cultures, or the opposite. Which one is more beneficial in the end? I think it's embracing one another's culture."

Indeed, Dangerous World seduces you into dancing along to its slinky beats and hip-hop groove rather than hitting you over the head with heavy-handed lectures.

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