Gingembre’s Amber Lam and Kevin McMillan in a graphic for their first single, “Neither Am I.”

Gingembre’s Amber Lam and Kevin McMillan in a graphic for their first single, “Neither Am I.”

MUSIC

‘Random clash of fate’ unites Surrey/Delta music duo for COVID-era creativity

Gingembre’s Lam and McMillan a match for musical collaboration after Craigslist meeting

The music duo Gingembre didn’t get off the ground during the pandemic, but it’s certainly grown ever since.

Roots of the two-part collaboration were planted back in February, when COVID was just a whisper and people thought of “physical distancing” as something done only with their ex. Then mid-March hit, “bubbles” were not only found in a can of Coke, and Amber Lam and Kevin McMillan just kept making music – plenty of it, mostly online in file-sharing mode.

The French word for ginger, Gingembre’s “chill alternative” songs pair the vocals and lyrics of Lam, a North Deltan, with guitars and other instruments played by McMillan, who lives in the Fraser Heights area of Surrey.

They’ve written and recorded close to 20 songs, or parts of them, since meeting through a Craigslist ad.

“It was my guilty pleasure poking around on there for musicians looking for vocalists, and there was nothing even remotely interesting to me,” Lam explained.

“I’d been at a staff team-building exercise at Cypress, snowshoeing in February,” she continued, “and they had a little band at Hollyburn Lodge and they asked if anyone wanted to sing. I said sure, so I sang with the band and they were like, ‘Oh, you need to sing more,’ and got me their songbooks and I flipped through those and sang some covers. It was so much fun. My co-workers were blown away and I came home on this high of performing. So I got back on Craigslist that evening and connected with Kevin.”

Recalled McMillan: “The vocal melody she later sang on this guitar piece I put up was just so awesome, and that kind of started this thing.”

Lam, a veterinary technician by trade, and McMillan, a Canada Post-ie, stumbled upon a very natural musical chemistry, according to the duo.

“Kevin’s incredible musical talent with my lyrics and melodies just seemed to be so perfectly matched despite our different careers and life experiences,” Lam says.

The pair chatted with the Now-Leader during a pre-Christmas Zoom call that focused on their music, the months of COVID-era creativity and their first official single, the Cory Friesen-produced “Neither Am I,” the lyric video for which is posted to their YouTube channel. The music can also be found on Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal platforms.

(Story continues below video)

Lam and McMillan describe “Neither Am I” as “a reflection of loyalty within lasting relationships. How time, place, age, and situation cannot divide you if you only have a little grace and can accept one another’s imperfections.”

Added Lam: “Our music can come across as melancholy but the thematic messages remain: the processing of emotion, experiencing life’s ups and downs, hope, loyalty, pushing on, and remembering the past.”

Some of the duo’s songs were created with the help of JamKazam, a platform that allows musicians to play together online.

“A lot of my friends and I used to collaborate with it,” McMillan explained. “As you get older you don’t want to lift 4x12s (amps) to your friend’s house to jam, and this platform allows you to converse in real time. The latency is so low that it’s not even noticeable. You sit at your computer and jam, and since COVID it’s kind of the only way you can jam.”

Added Lam: “We’ll start at 8 p.m and work till 4 in the morning, you know, and it’s like, ‘Where did that time go?’ We’re just so busy creating and going nuts with writing music, so it’s been really nice.”

Online isn’t the only place these two have created music.

“We’d met in person a number of times, back in February and March, and Kevin came to one of my church music practices,” Lam said.

“It’s all just worked for us, and it’s very positive to have this outlet for creativity that can continue despite being separated. We can send each other song ideas and things, and I’ve always been inspired by people like that. One of my favourite bands, Mutemath, actually started that way, where the one guy lived in Missouri and the other in Louisiana, and they’d send each other tracks and work on things from afar. It’s so neat to be apart of something like that.”

When things get back to “normal,” Gingembre may do some gigs and perform for some people, but the duo aims to remain a recording project, mostly.

“It’s so rewarding for both of us,” McMillan said, “and there’s something rewarding about sharing this music with other people now and seeing who else finds their own things they like about it. It’s so interesting to hear what other people feel when they hear it or what it reminds them of.”

Lam said she feels blessed that the two came across each other “in this random clash of fate.

“We’re both the same age, our birthdays are both in July of 1989, we’d never met and had almost no friend crossovers at all. I was like, ‘How does this happen that there’s this perfect person to make music with and I’ve just met them now, in our 30s?’



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Most Read