August 23, 2017

When The Sam Willows released their single, “Save Myself”, in July this year, I was filled with anticipation. As expected, the lyrics were catchy and relatable. The cover art was stunning, featuring the quartet in a cha chaan teng (a Hong Kong tea restaurant) with muted colours and splashes of red à la Wong Kar-wai—inspired by their recent trip to Hong Kong, a collaboration with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and TLC for the new season of “A Taste of Hong Kong”.


Episode three—“Hong Kong After Dark”—is co-hosted by The Sam Willows, comprising siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, Jon Chua and Sandra Riley Tang. In this episode, Josie Ho takes them around the bustling city when night falls. With only 48 hours, the band got to experience the enchanting city’s night hotspots like a true local. From enjoying Rooftop Sundowner Cocktails at SKYE Bar to experiencing horse racing and live music at Happy Valley Racecourse, The Sam Willows truly lived like a local. They also took the Star Ferry with Josie Ho from Central to Tsim Tsa Tsui to view the city lights that Hong Kong is so well-known for. The pop quartet even met with the organisers of The Gig Week Hong Kong, which focuses on celebrating Hong Kong’s local music scene. They were invited to perform and appear at the event as special guests, which was the perfect ending to their two-night visit.

The pop quartet is no stranger to travelling. After making their international debut in 2013 at the South by Southwest music festival in Texas, they also toured North America and Korea. Although this was their first time travelling to Hong Kong together, and given the short amount of time, they made the best out of their experience there.


HNW: How did it feel travelling as a band to Hong Kong?

THE SAM WILLOWS: When we travel as a band, it’s always really different. In general, we’re more open to new experiences, and it’s always exciting discovering places to enjoy together. Going to Hong Kong felt like an exhilarating and fun night out with your friends.


What was your most memorable moment of the trip?

Visiting the fortune teller at Temple Street who told us a lot about ourselves. So apparently, Sandra might end up in a love triangle, Ben won’t get a “free lunch”, Jon is going to be a rich man, and Narelle will marry a rich man.

How was it like co-hosting a TV programme together as a band?

We were glad to do it. We always have loads of fun doing things together and co-hosting the TV programme meant that we could experience Hong Kong in a very saturated and compressed way. In fact, we only had 48 hours to experience it all.

What is one thing I must do in Hong Kong?

Visit Visage One. Although Visage One may look like a barber shop—which it is during daytime—the venue transforms into a live jazz venue late at night. We caught a live performance of the local band, 9 Maps, with Josie Ho while we were there.

What is one thing I must eat in Hong Kong?

Mak’s Noodles and Tai Cheong Egg Tarts.


Are you planning to go back?

Yeah, definitely—it’s such an intriguing city where you feel like anything could happen. Hong Kong charmed us with its rush of culture, food and people. It felt like a home away from home; we can’t wait to go back for round two.


The episode with The Sam Willows (E3 “Hong Kong After Dark”), will be broadcast on TLC on 28 August 2017, Monday, 9.55pm.