By Sarah Karacs
Electronic composer turned multimedia artist Leung Kei-Chuek, aka GayBird, is in possession of two racks of vintage synthesisers, each as curious and complex as the next, and each containing its own unique functionality, its own language and a poetry of its own. His favourite is the EMS Synthi AKS, a vintage machine with colourful dials that was made in the UK in 1971, before he was born.
“Because the technology is old, the electronics are not very stable,” says GayBird, describing how a sound he makes one day cannot be replicated the next. “The machine is already changed. Even if it’s on the same setting, has the same diameter and everything is the same, the sound is always changing.”
GayBird’s workspace in his studio overlooking Chai Wan harbour is one of order, without frills or fuss. Barring a dark sphere placed near the opening of the apartment, the synthesisers are what draw the visitor’s eye in their vibrant, boxy strangeness, like the remnants of an old Star Trek set.
He likes to work with the AKS because it is so mercurial. “The machine interacts with me,” he says. “That’s why I like to work with vintage synthesisers: because the machine seems to be like a musician.”