Gareth.T ushers in the era of R&B and Hong Kong pop

As anthems for Gen Z’s growing pains, an air of vulnerability shines through Gareth.T’s sweet melodies, a style that dates back to when he was in elementary school. That’s when he started playing piano and violin, “like normal Asian kids would,” he told VICE in a video call from Hong Kong.

The musician sported a new look to match his latest song “buzz cut”, which was released as a single in mid-September but serves as a sonic and thematic expansion to his debut album. to be honestwhich fell in May.

“[It’s like] how Walter White in breaking Bad cut all her hair. It gives you a bit of the same feeling… you start to transform into a different person,” he said.

In the song, he talks about his complicated relationship with his brother, revealing, “I got a buzzcut like you / You know no one can ever replace you / So maybe someday you’ll get through it / Maybe now you’ll think I’m cool (you think I’m cool) / ‘Cause I don’t see you at all and we’re both getting old / So come home, come home.

“[The song was] the last thing i had to fix before i could go to the second stage [as an artist],” he said.

Gareth.T grew up in Hong Kong and learned everything he knows about music from YouTube tutorials. He says, “YouTube is my greatest teacher.” Before touching the R&B he now knows, he was surrounded by his mother’s classical music. Then, a detour to Western hits – like Eminem and Rihanna – and canto-pop stars (Cantonese pop music) like Endy Chow, Leo Ku and Eason Chan. He draws inspiration from art, music and videos from before his time and puts them into context today.

The music video for the song “勁浪漫超溫馨 (Hyperromantic)” is steeped in nostalgia for a Hong Kong television era, which features scenes inspired by Cantonese dramas, karaoke-style credits and mahjong game shots in restaurants. The ballad is about a young love. Translated into English, the lyrics read, “We haven’t used the internet much this month / Staring into her eyes is more fun than spending time browsing YouTube.”

It reminds us of the romance of our parents’ days, while transitioning to the forefront of the internet generation.

“Why rush to get me to Japan / There’s 50 kinds of matcha in Causeway Bay,” the song continues.

Confidently defending his own music, Gareth.T said the track could be one of his favorite Cantonese songs over the past five years.

Once internationally popular, canto-pop’s influence began to wane in the 2000s. is now making a resurgence with different styles, as young people turn to local acts for a sense of pride and identity.

Gareth.T represents today’s generation while improving on the old guard, putting more emphasis on lyricism and, when it comes to rapping, flow. It’s no wonder he grew online, with his biggest hit “boyfriend material” amassing over 12 million plays on Spotify. Here, the global R&B influences of Justin Bieber, Usher, T-Pain and Akon come through in soulful vocals and electronic melodies. On an upbeat beat, he nods to the woes of today’s dating culture and raps, “It’s the color of crew necks right now until I don’t. , yeah / I keep running out of swipes, so Tinder Gold, yeah / ‘Cause sticking to real life is too slow.

He experiments on Instagram with unreleased tracks, sharing lyrics typed on the Notes app and voice memos that aren’t yet fully mastered. “You’ll never hear it anywhere else,” he said, and takes these moments as opportunities to connect with fans and come across as authentic.

With more independent players on the music scene, he hopes to change what it means to create, walking a fine line between giving people what they want and what he calls “spicing up the lunchbox.”

his album to be honest, is the culmination. Addressing relationships with mother, brother, success, love, and being honest with yourself. It mixes pop charm with funk, poetic lyrics and soft instrumentals.

“The album was not only musical but also cathartic,” he said.

With a greater sense of control and direction, Gareth.T is ready for more. “I used to say I’m honest, now I’d say I’m direct.”

He plans to mix 2000s R&B with canto-pop for his next track, again drawing inspiration from the past while ushering in the new generation.

Follow Sarah Wei on Instagram.