Brothers Corey and Taylor Wong share the same passion of creating music. The pair has been creating music together for most of their lives, and have formed a musical act under the title HMLT. Now, more than two years since the release of their first EP, HMLT has recently released their third album Rumble in the 6ix. This EP draws attention to the plight of racialized groups in Toronto—particularly, the Asian community.
The Medium (TM): What’s Rumble in the 6ix about?
Corey Wong (CW): Rumble in the 6ix challenges the concept of the Asian model minority with hopes of empowering other Asians to make an impact on North American art and culture. We’re just a couple of Chinese boys from Toronto who grew up watching Jackie Chan and came to love hip-hop. Now we’re out here trying to break the myth of the model minority. The name obviously came from Jackie Chan’s movie Rumble in the Bronx. This movie in particular was iconic for us because it was Jackie’s first break into the North American mainstream. For my generation, this was also one of the first times I got to see an Asian face on the big screen—this was the moment Asians became cool. In hindsight, the EP could have easily been named Rush Hour because of the collaboration between Asian and black culture as well. However, the name Rumble in the 6ix alludes to Asians making a ruckus in Toronto.
TM: What was the inspiration for “Roses & Cigarettes”?
CW: We wanted to do a cover song for a show called “The Spot” at Poetry Jazz Club. We tried a few things out but we enjoyed a gospel-like version of “Roses” by Outkast. As we were playing it, Taylor started singing “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and it worked perfectly. We decided to actually put it on the EP because we liked it so much. I even used a live phone recording at that particular show as the intro of the song off the EP.
TM: What can fans expect with your upcoming performance at Night Owl for The Community Creative’s three-year anniversary of “The Spot”?
CW: They can expect the songs off the EP as well as a bunch of new ones. We’ll also be bringing an artist onstage named Joyia to perform with us. “The Spot” is such an amazing event—they host non-profit events that showcase spoken word, poetry, and live music.
TM: What’s the musical relationship between you and Taylor like? What roles do you each take on respectively when it comes to creating music?
CW: Taylor and I have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to music. We’ve been playing music together our whole lives and now it’s just something we do naturally. We actually first learned to jam with each other at church while growing up. I’ve always played keys while Taylor was blessed with the vocal cords. He also learned to play drums before he started singing as well. I usually do the production while Taylor writes melodies and lyrics.
When creating a song it can start as easily as a beat that I’ve created and he enjoys. It could also start with a few chords I hear him play on guitar and we make a beat from there. There are so many ways a song can begin that we try not to think about it too much and just go with the flow.