SM Weekly interviewed Zhang Liyin in October 2014 as part of her promotions for the “Agape” and “Not Alone” singles. You can read the original interview at the publication’s website.

Liyin shared some honest thoughts about her situation at SM Entertainment in this interview, so we highly recommend reading it.

I used an alternate [‘escape from reality’] attitude, realizing that I am honestly not a celebrity, and am only a regular person, going through a simple life day-by-day, without any particular burdens. Through this, I felt that I could bear [the situation] easier.

5 years being “frozen”?

Eight years ago, Zhang Liyin debuted from Korea’s largest “idol manufacturer”. With the duet “Timeless”, she won MAMA’s year-end “Best Newcomer” award, grabbing people’s attention. In 2008, she released a Mandarin album “I Will” and entered the Chinese market, winning several other newcomer awards. Her singing career slowly starting to begin; however, after 2009’s “Moving On”, Zhang Liyin gradually faded away from the public’s eye, and it was rumoured that she was “frozen” by the company. In 2014, using “Agape” as a new return, Zhang Liyin accepts our interview, talks about the five blank years, and responds to being “frozen”.

When it comes to “celebrity”, don’t have too high expectations

On September 22nd, Zhang Liyin held her first ever concert in Beijing. Although this concert only featured five or six songs, but Zhang Liyin practised hard for one whole week. On the night of the concert, fans all screamed for Liyin constantly although she seemingly remained unaffected by it. Until the fanmade compilation video of Liyin’s eight-year career history was shown live on-screen, she could not hold back the tears. In the five blank years, Chocolates’ unwavering, never leaving, never giving up support, has become her most powerful encouragement. When reminiscing those five years, whether it is practising songs, practising dancing, or resting, Liyin has become the artist in her company who has recorded the most songs. But without any future plans, her inner uneasiness was those years’ biggest torment.

SM Weekly (SMW): The celebrity stage during 20-to-25-year-old is often the golden era…

Zhang Liyin: Yes, it’s especially important, so at that time, I really didn’t understand, but also had no means [to change the situation]. There could be many different factors, because of the company’s relationships, those five years I could not appear anywhere. There were times I felt especially hopeless, even thought of giving up, but I eventually held out.

SMW: Everybody guessed that you were “frozen” by the company. Can that be said?

Zhang Liyin: No, I wouldn’t call it as “frozen”, or else they wouldn’t keep me signed into the company. Honestly, I don’t know the reason, you would need to ask the company, but in any case, it was a long period of rest. But ultimately, the company never gave up on me, and has released two new songs, and has put in their best effort to produce me.

SMW: At that time, were you worried that your contract would eventually be terminated?

Zhang Liyin: The company cannot terminate the contract of an artist. It’s usually the artist who’s unpleased with the company and leaves, but I have never thought to do this, and I still trust the company.

SMW: Without activities or exposure, were you ever bored or worried?

Zhang Liyin: I used an alternate [‘escape from reality’] attitude, realizing that I am honestly not a celebrity, and am only a regular person, going through a simple life day-by-day, without any particular burdens. Through this, I felt that I could bear [the situation] easier.

SMW: At that time, have you ever thought of your trainee days? Maybe thinking that the hardship then was not worth it, or that you made the wrong life decision?

Zhang Liyin: I’ve thought about it. At that time, I thought my decision [to leave China to train in Korea to become a singer] could be wrong, but every time I thought of giving up, I would not have the courage to. Because I’ve grown up learning how to play the violin, and I’ve always belonged in the arts, so even though I did not release an album, but I still enjoy the career I chose. When thinking in that way, I thought myself was already very fortunate, because there are plenty of people who are unable to have such an opportunity. Really want to go all out, or even sometimes want to use money and place bets, but it’s still difficult. By thinking in this way, I was able to have a calm attitude. “Celebrity” that sort of thing, you cannot expect too much of it. The bigger the expectation, the bigger the disappointment.

The company cannot terminate the contract of an artist. It’s usually the artist who’s unpleased with the company and leaves, but I have never thought to do this, and I still trust the company.

Brand new journey

Everything is hard-earned

In those five years, when her singing career was practically at a stand still, Liyin worried about her future every day. Although she thought of various ways to comfort her own attitude, but the days in a foreign country cannot be that easy. Apart from singing and dancing, her rest days consisted of hangout with friends from outside the entertainment circle, watching movies, shoppings etc., allowing to temporarily forget about that situation. During that time, the person who was her biggest supported was undoubtedly her mother, a violin teacher in Beijing, using a cellphone to provide offer her forever protection.

SMW: After experiencing those five years, in what area do you think you have changed the most?

Zhang Liyin: My biggest change is my inner strength. My mother one day sent me a message, asking me to look at a photo of a river. The river did not flow against the current. She asked me, why do rivers change their course; I said, because of nature; she said, no, it’s because there are obstacles in their path and they cannot flow, so they must take a different path; she said rivers are much like a person’s life, life cannot run a straight path, the path will always have difficulties, after one difficulty, there will be another, there will be many obstacles to try and stop you, but failure is the mother of success, you have to evaluate all your experience, slowly build it up, and you will then be successful.

SMW: So your mother actually helped you a lot?

Zhang Liyin: A lot, always teaching me, always telling me inspirational messages. My mother is the person who understands me the most. Sometimes after I finished crying, I would make a phone call, and my mom would ask me, were you just crying?

SMW: Then when comparing your comeback now to your original debut, is there a different feeling?

Zhang Liyin: When I first debuted, I thought everything was easy, so suddenly I could debut; now, I realize all this does not come easily, so I need to more appreciative, a desire to do better will leave a stronger result.

SMW: This time, did you have a “I really need to do this” that sort of feeling?

Zhang Liyin: Yes yes yes, the need to do everything perfectly. Sometimes even when a small interview did not go well, I would think, “ah, I did not answer very well” that sort of self-blame feeling, needing to give myself a bigger incentive to continue to work hard.

SMW: With a new debut, have you given yourself a certain goal? What degree of success?

Zhang Liyin: That degree of success is too high, to hope that one day lots and lots of people will know Liyin’s songs, like Liyin’s songs, and hope I can hold my own concert, both dancing and singing at the concert. That sort of dream. For this return, I’ve been so busy, I’ve felt a big pressure, wanting to improve on each performance after another. Because this is a new journey, I’ve felt I need to emit this sort of feeling, the need to be successful, so I have worked hard to do this, but sometimes I will feel very anxious.

Author

Wendy has been a fan of Zhang Liyin since 2007, when she was introduced to "Timeless" by a friend. Since then, she has led and organized activities for Zhang Liyin fans all over the world. Aside from Zhang Liyin, she is also an avid fan of Rachel McAdams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Real Madrid, and Toronto FC.