Interview: Hong Kong singer-songwriter Sunny Lukas on transcending trends

Hong Kong singer-songwriter and producer Sunny Lukas gained over two million engagements with his first single, “Everyone is Beautiful”, at just 16. With the launch of his third album on the horizon, he talks to Ha Rin Choi about his aspirations, inspirations and dream collaborations

Hong Kong singer-songwriter Sunny Lukas

For many, Sunny Lukas is a dreamer who, against all odds, composed his first song at the tender age of 16. The boy who listened to Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin CDs has grown up and is now gaining a solid reputation as someone who isn’t afraid to push boundaries in the music industry. The independent rapper has now written more than 70 songs and is set to release his first digital album.

Things might appear to be moving fast for the 22-year-old, but music has always been part of Lukas’s upbringing. “I started getting exposed to music at a young age. Like other households in Hong Kong, my parents pushed me to learn piano and violin at five,” he says. But it wasn’t until one fateful summer that he discovered a deeply-rooted passion for music. “Until I was 15, I did a lot of acting and sports. (But then) five weeks of Berklee College of Music summer camp awakened my passion and talent for songwriting and producing.”

Lukas had his first breakthrough during high school graduation week in 2018, becoming the first solo Chinese artist to host a concert at his high school. “It was pretty challenging since I had to plan everything in two months, from applying for the time slot with the school counsellor and having dance rehearsals to recruiting talent to help stage production and finding the band,” he recalls. “I felt super proud seeing many students and teachers singing along to my song. It wasn’t easy having a concert at an American school being an Asian.”

His next milestone quickly followed. That same year, Lukas joined the Boys of Summer Tour, hitting 10 cities in North America as the only Chinese singer. That led to collaborations with other talented artists including Grammy Award-winning songwriters 1500 or Nothin’ and Hit-Boy.

“From New York to Orlando, I brought my dancers and we had such a fun time,” Lukas says. “My highlight encounters were The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber and the K-pop boy band Big Bang. And my best collaboration was with 1500 or Nothin’ and Hit-Boy. I was lucky enough to work on four songs with them – they’ve produced songs for renowned artists including Bruno Mars, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.”

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Lukas eventually enrolled in Berklee, believing he could grow his social network and presence. “The best thing (about studying at Berklee) was experiencing how others make music. Surrounded by everyone who loves the same thing as you do is surely remarkable. Building new connections with students and teachers also helped me greatly with my perspective on music,” he says.

Before long, Lukas developed a unique style and found his own rhythm – a sound that spans electric, multicultural, new age pop with influences of R&B as well as elements of electronic, funk and rap.

Outfits from Versace; Jewellery from Fred Jewellery. Hong Kong singer-songwriter Sunny Lukas

One thing Lukas found helpful in connecting with his audiences was social media. “It’s the primary channel for how music is spread worldwide. It’s paramount to let the world know about you and your music,” he says. “Thus, I have constantly updated my social media for my new audiences to enjoy. Without it, I don’t think the industry will survive.”

Six years on, Lukas is entering the next chapter in his career with his third solo album, Lukas, his first record in digital format. “Unlike the other two albums, I wanted this to be an epitome of who I am as a human being, not only an artist,” he says, by thoroughly expressing his emotions and explorations through it. Fans can expect the new album to include multi-platinum producers from across the globe.

“It’s speaking from my firsthand experiences with love, family, friends and life,” Lukas says of the album. “I’m very excited mainly due to upcoming collaborations with new amazing international producers and songwriters. There will be English and Mandarin songs, including one feature song with a good friend, Dalvin Hu, who sold hundreds of millions of records in China. This album is my life story from beginning till now, my intimate journey and how I rebranded myself.”

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Outfits from Versace; Jewellery from Fred Jewellery. Hong Kong singer-songwriter Sunny Lukas

Lukas often finds inspiration from fellow artists and pays tribute by recording covers of his favourite songs. “Growing up, my idol was always Justin Bieber. He’s the main reason I’m doing and love music. I love his image, style, talent, music production and stage performance,” he explains.

The boy who looked up to other artists has become a successful musical talent in his own right with a growing fan base. He is the first Hong Kong rapper with one million TikTok followers. And he believes every achievement comes with a reason. “I believe everything happens in certain moments for a reason, and nothing came to me too quickly or slowly. Nevertheless, I’m delighted and grateful for all my experiences working in this industry,” he says.

Outfits from Versace; Jewellery from Swarovski. Hong Kong singer-songwriter Sunny Lukas

According to the young artist, there’s still more to do as he reveals his many goals and aspirations. We might see more collaborations between him and other renowned artists. “My biggest goal is to perform and tour in stadiums and arenas and get a number one song in the country. But for the short term, I would be happy to grow a bigger fan base and social media presence, build on my company Teamsunny Entertainment, and tour in China. My dream collaboration would be with Jackson Wang and Jay Park,” he shares.

Despite his success, this is just the beginning for Lukas: “I’m 22 years old and I feel like I’ve accomplished quite a lot already, but there’s still more to come.”

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