China’s pop idol

A writer, com­poser, manager, singer and fash­ion icon, she has no plans to ab­di­cate any time soon.

Schon! - - Contents - Words / Rox­anne Golding

Laure Shang (or Shang Wen­jie, as she was pre­vi­ously known) has been singing since she was a child, in­flu­enced by her par­ents’ love of mu­sic, but first came into view as the win­ner of Hu­nan TV’s Su­per Girl Voice in 2006, scor­ing a record break­ing 5,196,975 votes. But, as watch­ers of tal­ent shows – in the West­ern world at least – will know, hang­ing onto that suc­cess is no mean feat. Hands up who re­mem­bers Leon Jack­son, for in­stance.

Af­ter her win, Shang says that she was merely a per­former, singing songs that she did not write her­self, but four years ago, she be­gan tak­ing cre­ative con­trol over her ca­reer, show­cas­ing an all-new Laure Shang, and that is how she be­lieves she has made it in the long-term.

No doubt due to her start, tal­ent shows have been a fre­quent fix­ture through­out Shang’s ca­reer. Last year, the artist took part in the Chi­nese ver­sion of the Korean show, I Am a Singer, which pits vet­eran per­form­ers against one an­other, which she says, “was a lit­tle bit scary, in fact, since all the other singers were much more ex­pe­ri­enced than me, [but] it’s quite ex­cit­ing as well, be­cause I love chal­leng­ing my­self with things de­mand­ing both courage and fo­cus.” Shang is also a judge on Hu­nan TV’s Su­per Boy singing con­test and be­lieves that what peo­ple look for in a con­tes­tant has sig­nif­i­cantly changed since her de­but: while au­di­ences used to be con­tent with a good singer, the public now de­mand a cap­ti­vat­ing per­son­al­ity and orig­i­nal mu­si­cal style to boot.

Shang’s sig­na­ture elec­tro-pop blends clas­si­cal ar­range­ments with elec­tronic beats, and although un­able to play any in­stru­ments her­self, she uses var­i­ous soft­ware pro­grammes to cre­ate sounds with which to com­pose. Stat­ing, “I like ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of mu­sic with orig­i­nal sounds,” Shang cites Mas­sive Attack, Go­ril­laz, Tricky, Bat for Lashes, the Ting Tings, M.I.A and Florence and the Ma­chine as in­flu­ences, while she has been likened to Björk (the lat­ter also in­form­ing Shang’s fash­ion choices).

Known for her var­ied per­sonal style, Shang has be­come a fash­ion icon in her own right, fre­quently ap­pear­ing in Chi­nese edi­tions of L’Of­fi­ciel, Elle, Marie Claire and Cos­mopoli­tan. A regular at Paris Fash­ion Week (her four year de­gree in French prov­ing use­ful here), Shang’s favourite fash­ion brands are Givenchy, Gareth Pugh, Mai­son Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons and Lanvin. She has even given per­sonal per­for­mances for Lanvin and Burberry. Shang is also an ad­vo­cate of lo­cal de­sign­ers and is a big fan of Xan­der Zhou, Evening Yu, Chi Zhang and Cen­tral St Martins’ grad­u­ate, Masha Ma. She cre­ated her own brand, Ma Puce, in 2010, in sup­port of an al­bum. Re­cently, Shang de­cided to re-launch the la­bel, mak­ing it a se­ri­ous and com­mer­cialised ven­ture, that doesn’t need to rely ex­clu­sively on the sup­port of her fan base. “Now, Ma Puce rep­re­sents a new group of con­sumers, who ap­pre­ci­ate [a] fash­ion­able life­style… good taste, and high-tech prod­ucts,” she ex­plains.

Phi­lan­thropy also forms a sub­stan­tial part of her ca­reer. Shang is in­volved in sev­eral char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing her epony­mous project, which from 2008 to 2013 built 75 li­braries to aid over 1,500 poverty-stricken stu­dents. She is an am­bas­sador for China En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Foun­da­tion, PETA, and Mu­sic Ra­dio’s Love Home plan, which helps chil­dren who do not have enough money to go to school. She em­pha­sises that “It’s es­sen­tial that one gives back af­ter [one’s] been given. I think ev­ery­one should do that, suc­cess­ful or not, just to re­mind one­self that real hap­pi­ness is al­ways built on true love for the en­tire world.”

Cur­rently work­ing on new ma­te­rial with the view to cre­ate an al­bum in the next six months, con­tin­u­ing to build Ma Puce, and man­ag­ing new boy band, Fresh, Shang cer­tainly keeps her­self busy. That is with­out even men­tion­ing the char­ity work and day-to-day rig­ma­role that comes with be­ing a hugely suc­cess­ful pop star and style icon. She may have come from a tal­ent show at a time when com­pe­ti­tions were eas­ier to win, but hav­ing al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced such fame, one thing’s for cer­tain: Laure Shang’s got that X fac­tor.

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