After completing secondary school, Chan worked as a script writer for radio ads at Commercial Radio. However, he soon realised there was little room for career development in the post and that new media would soon replace radio. He thought he could not get by forever just on his quick wit. So he sought a more down-to-earth approach for self-improvement through studying.
He quit his job after six months and enrolled first at the at the School of Professional and Continuing Education of Hong Kong University (HKU), and then the Music Department of the University of Hong Kong. However, Chan found he was not like most of his classmates who planned to transfer to the Business School or become teachers and live a stable life. Without completing his degree, he dropped out of university in 2009.
Shortly after leaving university, he received an invitation from Wyman Wong Wai-Man to become a full-time lyricist in 2010, but by then he had already been writing songs on the side for a number of years.
It started in 2005, when he was still at secondary school and was in the same choir as a cousin of the composer and singer Jerald Chan, of the pop duo Swing. Jerald Chan needed a lyricist to write lines for the song he had composed for the veteran singer Lee Lung-kei and the actress-singer Tiffany Lee Lung-yee. Jerald Chan’s cousin had spotted Chan’s talent for writing lyrics in the choir because the schoolboy often replaced the lyrics of foreign language songs with Chinese ones for fun. So he recommended the young Chan to the musician and he started his career as a part-time lyricist.
Chan explains that becoming a lyricist depends as much on connections in the industry as it does on talent. This is because the music labels or producers will choose a lyricist after selecting a catchy melody from a pool of songs sent by composers.
“How could I become their choice as a ‘no one’?” says Chan, recalling those early days. He did not receive a lot of job opportunities and would write two to three songs per year as a part-time lyricist. “I didn’t mind knocking on the door, but I didn’t even know where the door was,” Chan says. .
The turning point of Chan’s journey as a lyricist came in 2009. At that time, Swing planned to reenter the music scene. Chan wrote the lyrics of their first plug, I have stocks (我有貨), and it did well in various song charts. As a result of this, Chan got the opportunity to write lyrics for notable singers such as Eason Chan Yik-shun and Karen Mok Man-wai. In 2010, Wyman Wong Wai-man invited Chan to join “Shoot the Lyricist”, a group founded by Wong to share the writing opportunities with lesser-known lyricists. He became a full-time lyricist afterwards.
The local lyrics writing scene is still dominated by the duopoly of Wong and Lin Xi but Chan says this is fair because their works are truly outstanding. Facing such greats, Chan has adopted the motto, “Work until your idols become your rivals”. “I’ll lead the industry in the future, so I need to have such mentality.”