As Executive Director of Big Honor Entertainment, Veronica Lam continues her father’s legacy as an innovative promoter of musical talent. She looks back at life with dad and forward to creative new ventures in the future.
What was it like growing up in such a prominent family? Would you say that your childhood was pretty normal?
It’s difficult to say whether my childhood was normal, as I don’t have anything to compare it to. It wasn’t the standard upbringing, since I was raised by my maternal grandmother, while my younger brother lived with my paternal grandmother. It wasn’t until my teens that I started living with my dad [the late Lam Kin-ming of Crocodile Garments fame], which I can say gave me a more independent frame of mind than many of my peers. One thing that I do remember fondly is being surrounded by a lot of relatives.
What path did your education take, and what aspirations did you have growing up?
I completed my high-school years at a boarding school in the UK, and that really left an impression. While I was living in Hong Kong, my father was pretty strict, and we had to come straight home after school every day. We weren’t allowed to hang out with our friends much at all. So, going to boarding school suddenly afforded me the freedom to branch out and explore new things. I always had a creative bent, so when I graduated, I applied for an art course, but ultimately gave that up to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business statistics at the University of Reading.
You’re the Executive Director of Big Honor Entertainment, the business founded by your father. Why did you join the family firm, and what are your responsibilities?
I tried my hand at banking for a couple of years after university, but quickly realised it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I felt pretty lost and rudderless, so my dad asked me to join him at Big Honor Entertainment. At first, it was meant to be temporary, with me following my father to his various meetings and commitments, but 10 years later, I’m still here.
Big Honor is comparable to an investment company, albeit one that focuses on investing in musical events and shows. We do create our own, but with so many acts circulating, we also pick and promote those that fit our company profile. For the past decade, we have targeted Korean and Japanese talents, but with the ongoing pandemic, none of them can fly to Hong Kong, so we’ve refocused more on local bands, investing in movies and themed events. As Executive Director, it’s my responsibility to evaluate whether or not certain projects are worth investing in, as well as introduce fresh entertainment propositions to the city, and even instigate and implement new musically-focused initiatives of our own.
When did you discover your passion for the arts and photography in particular?
I remember one day when I was in high school, my dad came home with a pocket-sized, credit card-thin camera. This was advanced technology at a time when mobile phones couldn’t take photos. I took the camera wherever I went, and started documenting inspirations for my high-school art projects. I was completely hooked. There are so many special moments happening all the time, and taking photos is the quickest, most logical medium to retain those precious experiences.
Tell us a little about your photography work under VL Visuals.
I founded VL Visuals to display my photography artworks. The seeds for the idea came about when I helped promote the Yan Chai Hospital charity by producing a picture booklet detailing the hospital’s various services using photography as the key medium. Then, I collaborated with fresh young illustrators in the city on the photos I shot. The picture booklet was very well received, and it gave me the confidence to continue exploring my passion for photography. Not long after that, I stumbled upon gold leaf art while travelling in Japan, and that led me down a whole new avenue of creativity. That’s when I started doing exhibitions and presenting my works at art fairs around the world, including Hong Kong, London and Paris. The reception these received gave me the ego boost to continue.
Where do you find inspiration for your photos, and what are the challenges of capturing a truly great image?
Most of my inspiration comes through my travels. While I feel some people seek to capture stunning sunsets, I much prefer scenes with fog or haze, as I like moody, dark tones. What I enjoy, however, requires a lot of strength, for example, waking up at 4am in the morning to clamber up a mountainside with heavy equipment. Being a woman with weak arms doesn’t help much, and I’m basically a night owl, so I do understand and admire those who put so much effort into taking gorgeous photos!
What led you to found Hardbit Music?
I was already involved in signing and handling musical talent at Big Honor, and my brother and I both enjoyed attending DJ shows, so we thought, why not branch out and try that as a side project. DJ events have a certain image though, and there were some concerns that this might negatively affect our company name, so we created a new brand – Hardbit Music – to host large-scale DJ-led musical events in the city.
How do you feel the ongoing coronavirus pandemic affected this business?
Honestly, the entertainment industry was one of the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19. Obviously, we couldn’t hold large-scale events or fly in musical acts to the city anymore… it was a serious challenge in every sense of the word. Looking back, it definitely taught us to become more creative with our ideas and to think outside the box in terms of coming up with innovative new solutions and concepts. In particular, it inspired me to start my latest project, which is called the B.Live app.
What’s this new app all about?
At a time when in-person musical events are all but non-existent, we have to keep creating new spaces for musical acts within the entertainment industry. B.Live is a streaming app that offers viewers multiple angles during broadcasted events, so they can decide how they take in their favourite acts. Not only does the app allow people to enjoy music in the comfort of their homes, it also features chat rooms so users can interact with friends while experiencing the shows. That’s not all: in addition to musical content, we’ll also be uploading theatrical shows, tutorials and more. The app is slated for release in August, so watch this space…
As you juggle your various responsibilities, how do you like to unwind?
When I get stressed, I take to the treadmill to work up a good sweat, or I blast music out loud and dance by myself in front of the mirror. I used to unwind by editing photos at home, but these days I have so much editing to do that this has lost its shine a bit.
If you could go back and relive any moment of your life, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to go back to the day I got married. I wish I could relive the moment where my father walked me down the aisle. It’s an especially poignant memory for me, as he passed away recently, and I’d like to hold his hand tighter and truly thank him for being there.
Finally, what’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
I’m the biggest SpongeBob SquarePants fan, and I love collecting SpongeBob paraphernalia. I’ve got T-shirts, plush toys, vinyl figures, stickers… you name it, I’ve got it. Every time I see those big, watery eyes, it just reminds me of how silly he is and how he doesn’t take himself seriously, a bit like my husband. It instantly lightens my mood!
Interview by: Tenzing Thondup
Photographer: Jack Law
Videographer: Kingsley Lau
Art Direction & Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma
Hair and Make-up: Heti Tsang
Cover: Stow blazer dress by Acler, courtesy of Lane Crawford