Introducing Quan Yeomans – Yum Chat Keynote speaker

Quan Yeomans
Quan Yeomans

Don’t forget, as the Vietnamese community celebrates Tết, the lunar new year – BrisAsia Festival – a month long celebration of Asian art and culture in Brisbane – is well underway.

This evening in the Brisbane CBD, Yum Chat will be bringing together creative professionals from a range of disciplines for evening of conversation and networking. Details as follows:

  • Yum Chat, BrisAsia Festival
  • Date: 17 Feb 2015
  • Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm
  • Location: Metro Arts,109 Edward St, Brisbane QLD 4000
  • Bookings: 07 3403 8888.

Quan Yeomans, of Regurgitator fame, will be the keynote speaker for the evening, sharing his insights as a creative professional.

As a part of Peril’s involvement in this event, we’ll also be fielding a group of live tweeters to attend the event, and provide reflections after the event.

One of our tweet/blog crew is Sol – a 9-year old with family connections to Australia, England, Spain and the Philippines. Here, Sol asks Quan a few key questions to give you a more PG version of just how Quan got where he is today.

1. How did you find it leaving Brisbane? Was it hard?

I found it a comfortable place to not know what the hell I was going to do with my life. I basically had a pretty easy middle class existence. I lived downstairs from my Vietnamese mother. I went to high school at Kelvin Grove and quietly slotted onto a low rung in the hierarchy of a fairly ‘cool’ group of kids there. I played guitar and drums at exciting volumes whenever I liked, thanks to my mother’s tolerance. I managed to be on the dole (money from the government to pretend to look for work) for a couple of years whilst gaining experience playing in local bands. I found the city itself a bit conservative, dull and and at times unforgivingly hot, but the music scene was in such a fun stage of infancy. People were connecting with each other and experimenting pretty freely. I felt like I blended into the landscape very easily in Brisbane. I never felt particularly special growing up there but as my band gained popularity, I felt that the city cradled me and held me aloft in a very kind way.

2. How do you compare living in Brisbane to living in Hong Kong?

I lived in Brisbane as a teenager and by the time I moved to Hong Kong I was a grown man having already been through a the most successful part of my career, a midlife crisis and a lot of world travel. Compared to Brisbane and any other Australian city for that matter, Hong Kong was a completely different animal.

It was a dirty, real city with a vibrancy that I instantly felt and fell in love with. Unlike any city in Australia it didn’t seem to ever sleep. The cityscape literally changed before your eyes. Buildings disappeared over night, only to be replaced by newer, taller ones in what seemed like less than a week. There were lots of people who moved through that city very quickly, sometimes working at some crazy high-flying job for a couple of years then disappearing again. As a result, people were a lot more open socially. You could meet a lot of new people very quickly on any night of the week. You got used to saying a lot of hellos and as many goodbyes.

The only thing that I soon realised about Hong Kong, which wasn’t as easy fit for me, was that it’s a very business orientated city, so it was very rare for me to meet people that put art and music before anything else. Almost every art or music show had some corporate tie in or funding. I found that slightly alienating. I met a lot of bankers and pilots and people in marketing. All lovely and interesting enough but with somewhat different attitudes to life to me. Luckily, I met a few people who did more unusual things and therefore also had time on their hands.

My best friend was professional Magician called Sean. He was a recovered alcoholic so, like me, never drank or did drugs. I’ve always been a bit of a teetotaller by choice (which was an odd thing in my industry believe me!) Sean and I would go to fancy clubs and drink freshly squeezed orange juice and just dance with random people until we got bored. I found it very interesting to talk to him about his chosen profession. I was surprised to learn that magic is a highly skill art form which requires a mastery over loads of unique mechanical gadgets and the subtle art of misdirection. It was fun living in a kind of bubble there for a time.

The one other odd thing I found about Hong Kong was how different people’s attitude towards my ethnicity was.

Whereas in Australia it was largely unspoken about, in Hong Kong I found that one of the first things people would ask about was my ethnic background and for the first time in my life being a half-caste Asian seemed to be an asset that was strangely revered by the culture there. A lot of famous actors and other entertainers were “halfies” and considered a fine looking breed! I think Hong Kong was the first place I actually felt like I was an okay-looking guy which did wonders for my ego 🙂

3. Do you find people think you are from Hong Kong? If so/not, how does that feel?

When I was in Hong Kong, yes, much to the amusement of my past girlfriends and current wife, who is a white American girl from Oregon who speaks a lot more Cantonese than I ever could. So many times when we were out, a local would turn to me to communicate, rather than my wife and I would stand there like an idiot waiting for her to take over.

4. Was it a big change moving to all the electronic elements of your music?

Not really, but I think because I started writing first with organic instruments like guitars and real drums, I still don’t feel like the electronic realm is my most fertile and natural environment.

Unfortunately, I’ve become increasingly used to its ease of use, compactness and infinite possibility. I feel that all that may have hindered my artistic development in many ways but over the years I’ve become so addicted to the efficiency and neatness of computer music programs, there’s little hope for me now.



Author: Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer and community radio broadcaster. Eleanor Jackson is a former Editor in Chief and Poetry Editor of Peril and currently Chair of the Board.