Zhang Liyin interviewed with KpopStarz to promote her 4th single, “Not Alone”. The publication travelled to Beijing for an exclusive two-part interview with the singer back in September 2014. We have translated the interview from Chinese to English, and you can read KpopStarz’s exclusive interview with Liyin in its untranslated Chinese format here and here.
I especially want to release one particular song. This song was recorded a long time ago. I think it’s a great listen, and the Korean version has already finished recording. This song will be released in both China and Korea at the same, so there will be promotional activities in Korea.
KpopStarz: We would first like to thank Zhang Liyin for accepting KpopStarz’s exclusive interview. We know this time Zhang Liyin returned to China with a new single “Not Alone”. Several days ago, the music video was released, fans really enjoyed it after seeing it, can you describe to us what type of song it is?
Zhang Liyin: Previously I released “Agape”, so this is the follow-up song to “Agape”. After watching the music video for “Agape”, you might have felt like the story did not have much of a conclusion, so “Not Alone” is the continuation of “Agape”. The full story speaks of a mother who sacrificed herself while protecting her child. In “Not Alone”, this child is acted by Tao, who grows up slowly but has always missed his own mother. When he meets a girl, he discovers that the girl looks similar to his mother, so it brings him back memories of his mother, and through this, he gradually falls in love with this girl. This song is to bring together those two feelings, to represent a boy treasuring his current feelings as well as the emotion of hoping for the return of his parents’ love.
KpopStarz: We know that Liyin helped write the lyrics for “Agape”, for “Not Alone”, did you help produce the song?
Zhang Liyin: Not this time, but I hope future works will incorporate my own contributions.
KpopStarz: On the 22nd, Zhang Liyin will hold a concert in Beijing. Will you hold similar activities in other Chinese cities in the future?
Zhang Liyin: This time is my first time holding my own concert in China, so it’s held in Beijing. In the future, there will certainly be press conferences and fan meets in other Chinese cities, and afterwards, I hope I can host my own solo concert.
KpopStarz: “Agape” and “Not Alone” are both digital singles. In the future do you have any plans to release a full-length album?
Zhang Liyin: Definitely, because presently I have already recorded a lot of songs, after this song, there will be an album format to be released for everyone.
Since the beginning until now, I’ve always been a balladeer, so I guess everyone has gotten weary of this image, so I hope to show a new side of me, to bring new energy through a dance song where I’m singing and dancing at the same time. Hope fans will anticipate my transformation.
KpopStarz: This time this song is a lyric-based ballad. Will you try a style in your specialized R&B style or a dance style?
Zhang Liyin: Absolutely, because I personally really like dance songs. Since the beginning until now, I’ve always been a balladeer, so I guess everyone has gotten weary of this image, so I hope to show a new side of me, to bring new energy through a dance song where I’m singing and dancing at the same time. Hope fans will anticipate my transformation.
KpopStarz: Recently, the songs have all been Chinese songs. Will there be releases of Korean songs?
Zhang Liyin: I especially want to release one particular song. This song was recorded a long time ago. I think it’s a great listen, and the Korean version has already finished recording. This song will be released in both China and Korea at the same, so there will be promotional activities in Korea.
KpopStarz: Earlier Zhang Liyin attended SM’s and Media Asia’s partnership ceremony. At the ceremony, SM’s Lee Sooman mentioned that this year and next year there will be a project regarding Zhang Liyin’s development. Can you introduce to everyone what sort of project this will be?
Zhang Liyin: Firstly, Lee Sooman hopes for SM artists and China’s Media Asia artists to collaborate, and hope artists will have a better platform to develop. As for my own development project, because I personally experienced a term of inactivity, I think it is time to show everyone a more complete, a more solid Zhang Liyin. This project actually fully encompasses all areas, including singing, acting, hosting etc, to produce a new returning Zhang Liyin.
KpopStarz: Aside from singing, Liyin is also talented at playing instruments, such as the violin and the piano. Do you practise these days?
Zhang Liyin: Since I was young, my mom would encourage my interests in this area. I don’t know when I started to like playing the violin, the piano and those instruments, but when I have time, I would practise.
KpopStarz: Will you include your own acting to your albums in the future?
Zhang Liyin: It was considered before, but the company looked at the album in its entirety; “Not Alone” being the sister of “Agape”, as well as it being a follow-up song, the company hoped to maintain an unity of style, so temporarily, we presently do not have any plans. But to give fans some reassurance, there will definitely be this sort of showing in the future. In fact, right now I not only just sing, play the violin, piano, but I’ve also been practising dance choreography. At this Beijing showcase, I will do my best to show a side of Zhang Liyin where I am singing and dancing at the same time.
Firstly, Lee Sooman hopes for SM artists and China’s Media Asia artists to collaborate, and hope artists will have a better platform to develop. As for my own development project, because I personally experienced a term of inactivity, I think it is time to show everyone a more complete, a more solid Zhang Liyin. This project actually fully encompasses all areas, including singing, acting, hosting etc, to produce a new returning Zhang Liyin.
KpopStarz: At SM Entertainment, with which senior are you most close to?
Zhang Liyin: At SM, no matter if they are senior or junior, they have been of great help to me. The atmosphere at our company is incredibly harmonic. Because we are Chinese people, and because Zhou Mi gives people a “warm guy” sort of feeling, and although I am a foreigner, I still feel a heart-warming feeling, allowing me to appreciate the feeling of being at home. So I am very thankful towards him, and of course, thankful to the company’s other seniors who have cared for me and given me guide and support.
KpopStarz: Previously, you collaborated with EXO’s Chen. In the future, do you want to collaborate with any other artists in your company?
Zhang Liyin: Zhou Mi. Because during a time when we were heading to a promotional activity on the airplane, Zhou Mi asked me: “Liyin, when we will collaborate on a duet together?” So I really like that idea, and hope that it will become reality.
KpopStarz: We know that SM has a lot of singers who have opportunities to be in musicals. Has Liyin ever thought of expanding in that area?
Zhang Liyin: I’ve considered it because I think if a singer can act well in a musical, it will help them in the future. Because in a musical, not only do you have to sing on-stage, you also have to fully immerse yourself into the character, and understand the character’s inner thoughts, using acting and singing to emotionally affect the audience, so I think this is a challenge. If there is a suitable role that invites me to perform, I will courageously take on the challenge.
Because during a time when we were heading to a promotional activity on the airplane, Zhou Mi asked me: “Liyin, when we will collaborate on a duet together?” So I really like that idea, and hope that it will become reality.
KpopStarz: In Korea, when you have time, do you watch any variety shows? Do you have any favourites?
Zhang Liyin: Recently, I have been watching an army-related variety show called “Real Men”, which features my company’s Henry. I watch this show with feelings because I’ve heard that Korean men must enlist in the army for two years, and are not able to meet family members or friends during this time. They spoke in those years, army life is incredibly difficult, the experience changes you into a much more mature person, but I have no way of truly experiencing that sort of difficulty. After watching this show, I discovered everyone trains hard from morning to night, has incredible body strength, but will also experience a lot of humorous situations. So I think this army-related variety show has a lot of meaning to it. In the future, I also hope to experience this sort of fun, similar to army lifestyle, TV show.
KpopStarz: If there are opportunities to act in TV dramas or movies, what sort of role would you like to act in?
Zhang Liyin: If I had the opportunity to act, I hope my role will be similar to my real self, because I am very simple and pure, so if I were to act an outgoing and complex character, I would not be very well-suited for it. If it was a simple, innocent, optimistic role, I think I could do well.
KpopStarz: We’ve discussed so much about your work. Now, let’s talk with Liyin about your personal life. How are your cooking skills? When you are at home, do you cook for yourself? Do you have any specialty dishes?
Zhang Liyin: Actually, I cook for myself at home every day because I take my health very seriously. I think going out to eat is not very healthy. Every day I would put together five different vegetables and pan-fry them together, and add a little salt. Sometimes I would make Korean vegetables, such as miso soup, chicken soup, roast beef, potato soup, those sort of dishes I’m good at. I also cook Chinese meals of course, tomato and egg, for example.
KpopStarz: Recently, your fans have felt that Liyin has lost of a lot of weight. Do you have tips or secrets to losing weight that you can share with us?
Zhang Liyin: I feel that nowadays, a lot of girls don’t eat or eat only an apple, starving themselves, just in order to lose weight. That is not healthy for your stomach or your body, so my weight loss method is very healthy. It’s like I said previously, to cook various vegetables, eat two meals a day, and you will definitely not become fat, so long as you eat only half of what you usually eat. Eat less carbohydrates, eat more fruits, vegetables and protein, and you will not become fat. The most important thing is to exercise more; do not always travel by car, walk as much as you can.
If I had the opportunity to act, I hope my role will be similar to my real self, because I am very simple and pure, so if I were to act an outgoing and complex character, I would not be very well-suited for it. If it was a simple, innocent, optimistic role, I think I could do well.
KpopStarz: Previously, you would celebrate your birthday with your friends in Korea. In the future, will you return to China to celebrate with Chocolates?
Zhang Liyin: I really hope to celebrate my birthday at a birthday party in China at least once, inviting my fans who have always supported me. This will definitely be very heart-warming. Organizing such a birthday party can help narrow the distance between me and my fans, but can also leave a good memory, so I hope this desire can be achieved as soon as possible.
KpopStarz: Concerning love and marriage, do you have any plans?
Zhang Liyin: Firstly, I feel this year is the most important year for my career, so currently I am fully involved in developing my career, hoping that it will have better results than before. If in the future, I meet a man I am satisfied with, I will also cherish him. I think that marriage should wait until after both sides have career stability, so that the two people’s feelings will last longer.
KpopStarz: If you could have a super power, what kind of super power would you have?
Zhang Liyin: I hope those who love me and those who I love will achieve happiness. Because I personally am very pure, a very simple person, so I would candidly share my thoughts with you this way. I hope the world will be full of love – much like my song “Agape” or Not Alone” – showing a loving realm. I want to relay a world full of love for everyone, to show people the power of love.