Eva Lui AKA Mui Zyu speaks about her new music, fantasy worlds, and much more!
Mui Zyu, Hong Kong British artist Eva Liu, has been releasing music for years with the band Dama Scout, but has recently embarked on her solo journey and we could not be more excited for what’s in store! Liu merges fantasy and folklore with inspirations from her heritage to create captivating sonic landscapes that transcend you into her worlds.
Lizzie: Firstly, hi! I love your new singles and could not be more excited for your debut LP! How are you feeling about it?
Eva: Thank you! I am really happy with this work and ready to say goodbye to it. I had concepts and intentions (both musically and emotionally) I wanted to present in this record and I’m really pleased they’re all included. I also love listening to LPs and getting lost in the worlds of my favourite artists so it feels magical to be able to add my little collection of songs to the plasma ball of albums.
Lizzie: You’ve been making music with Dama Scout since 2016, how would you describe your journey with music from then to your recent transition to your solo releases?
Eva: Making music with Dama Scout has been so empowering, we all trust each other and are always up for exploring everyone’s ideas. We released an album last year, we made it ourselves and didn’t shy away from artistic or recording ideas – to be honest it changed the way I feel about music. I wouldn’t be making solo music if it wasn’t for Dama Scout. We have loose plans to work on new recordings but are just trying to find a new process that will satisfy us. I work on all my current music with Lucci (from Dama Scout), we write, produce together and he mixes everything – similarly Danny (from Dama Scout) is involved too bringing his amazing creative brains to some of the visualisers on this record. Some of the approaches to sound design and sonic decisions (being informed by song meanings) we have used in Dama Scout – i’ve tried to further dive into with my solo recordings. I’ve wandered further into my own family / cultural history and I’ve also tried to explore different approaches to song-writing.
Lizzie: I’ve read about your love of video games and film scores, can you talk more about how those passions feed into your music?
Eva: Sure! video-games and films help me escape and immerse myself in other worlds. With my record I’ve tried to approach the overarching story like it’s a fantasy / coming-of-age role-playing game. I love music and sound design in films and games. Music can tell the whole story, it can intentionally lead you down the wrong road or it can subliminally nudge you in a certain direction – I love this! Also the use of dynamics can be so moving. Although I intentionally tried to have big dynamic contrasts on the album – fundamentally it’s still a ‘pop’ record – so it was more a case of squeezing these intentions through the little mui zyu mould.
“With my record I’ve tried to approach the overarching story like it’s a fantasy / coming-of-age role-playing game.“Eva Lui – Mui Zyu
Lizzie: In your tracks, we follow the journey of a lonesome warrior. Can you expand a bit about what or who this protagonist represents?
Eva: The protagonist in the record is many things; an alien in another world, an outcast, a daughter, a young woman being pulled by different cultures. They have to overcome demons, discrimination and death. when I started writing for mui zyu it was at a time when East and South East Asian people were experiencing horrific racism particularly in Europe and North America – it was a truly scary time, many of us were fearful to leave our homes alone. For me I hid at home with my cat, books and started making this art. Community groups started to form as a way for people from these cultural backgrounds to come together, share stories, support each other and start to bring about positive change. Being a member of these groups has been life-changing. The solidarity and support from these collectives also became a part of the protagonist’s journey in my record – almost like a special power.
Lizzie: What sort of processes do you go through when writing your songs? Does inspiration just hit you like a brick, or do you need to sit in a dark room and spill your soul onto paper?
Eva: I try to treat it like any other craft, dedicating regular time focussed on making. when I’m in the creative mind I’m not judgemental, I’m just trying to be a conduit for the ideas and let them come – I’ll judge them later. I’ve found being too critical in the moment just brings everything to a stand still and makes the good ideas run away or be too scared to come and say hi. I journal regularly, and keep a dream diary. For this record I came up with the concept quite early-on and started trying to fill in the story. There were a lot of songs and only a handful became the album. A couple days before we mastered the record we wrote a new song and even though it was still so fresh – we trusted that it made sense for the record and it found its way in. It was weird being at the mastering session listening on the big PMCs at Abbey Road to a song that only existed for a couple days before being forged into the album.
Listen/watch ‘Dusty’ here:
Lizzie: Is there any other genre that you’d like to dip your toes into? What are your thoughts on genre as a concept?
Eva: Genre isn’t something I think about when I’m making art – maybe I should..? I’ve recently been forcing myself to perform without a guitar for the first time – it’s kind of terrifying when you’re used to having it to hide behind but it has also been so liberating and feels quite mind-opening about where to go next. I think world-building, immersion and tension will always be a part of my work but I don’t feel tied to a particular genre. that said – I do love genre tropes in films and the dedication to things like horror or suspense directors commit to.
Lizzie: Your music isn’t necessarily for escapism purposes, right? Where do you want listeners to go mentally, or where do you go mentally when listening back to your music?
Eva: I don’t really listen to my music when it’s finished, though it can be a nice surprise when you hear your work unexpectedly in the wild alongside real music hehe. I’m not totally sure where I want listeners to go mentally.. I just wanted to make the world of this album, and tell these stories – if it resonates in any way with anyone that is a bonus.
“I don’t really listen to my music when it’s finished, though it can be a nice surprise when you hear your work unexpectedly in the wild alongside real music“Eva Lui – Mui Zyu
Lizzie: Your lyrics are so captivating, they evoke such deep introspective thought about the self. Do they come first or are there melodies that inspire you to write?
Eva: On this record lyrics have arrived in many ways, sometimes I’ll just have one line that I think is a good jump off point and start writing around it – filling in the rest with phonetics that will then be shaped in to words that make sense for the story. Other times there’s been some collaging when it felt right. To be honest the best songs on the record though usually come together super quickly, almost immediately words and music simultaneously.
Lizzie: Silly one here, but I’m curious! If you could re-write the score for any film, what would it be?
Eva: Hahaa good question! So tough because I feel like the music will already be a main component of why I love my favourite films.. so I couldn’t dream of re-writing those. it would be an interesting experiment writing intentionally juxtaposed music to a film that’s super clear on it’s narrative – like really sweet sugary pop on ‘Eraserhead’ or droney terror soundscapes on ‘Bringing Up Baby’.
Lizzie: Thank you so much for your time! One last question… your debut LP comes out February 24th, what should we expect?
Eva: You can expect me to continue to be overwhelmed that people seem to connect to the music. I’ll probably cry when I see the vinyl in a store, and I’ll cry again at my show which is sold out (what the hell), so yea.. a lot of tears, I’ll do my best to honour the album live, then I’m gonna disappear and make some new art sipping hot water and talking to my cat (who just turned 10, happy birthday Margo).
Lizzie: Happy birthday Margo!