Taiwanese singer and actress Rainie Yang celebrated her 20 years in showbiz with a new album, Like a Star, and a series of sold-out concerts for masked fans. She tells us how she got here and where she’s headed
As the Taiwanese singer and actress enters the 21st year of her career, she’s more self-assured than ever. She tells ZANETA CHENG about the process of reconfiguring what it means to be “RAINIE YANG” and why change will always be the only constant
IT’S PROBABLY A safe assessment, after the year we all just had, that while technology facilitates many things, much gets lost in translation zipping across the digital stratosphere. There’s the odd glitch, the periodic audio freeze and everyone has to speak much louder than they would in a face-to-face setting to get their point across. So it’s a testament to Taiwanese diva Rainie Yang’s self-conviction that those working with her are able to glean a sense of who she is simply by looking at screenshots of her wardrobe selections for the #legend shoot. Many on the team, who have listened to her songs for years, unanimously agreed they were “very Rainie”.
But what, we wondered, would Yang consider to be “very Rainie”? After all, she’s gone through multiple transformations during her 20 years in the spotlight, starting as a member of Taiwanese girl group
4 in Love at age 16 – which earned her the enduring nickname “Leader of Cuteness” – to spreading her wings as a solo artist and actress, and, finally, emerging as a goddess admired by women and men alike.
“Frankly speaking, I’ve never defined myself as an artist,” the Taipei native says. “The titles and nicknames given to me by the public weren’t things I coined myself so I’ve never felt confined by them, and along the way I don’t think that I’ve had one fixed image.
If I have to pinpoint something, then perhaps it’s that I’m always looking to cultivate a new image for myself. But it’s not even that – I think I’m just doing what seems right in the moment.”
Not only did Yang make the jump from teen girl group singer to music producer to mentor on Dancing Diamond 52, she’s also embraced YouTube with aplomb, documenting a visit to the gynaecologist on her first vlog and speaking out for LGBTQ+ rights.
“I’m happy that I’ve always been someone who welcomes challenges, whether it be singing in a group, solo or even entering acting. There have been many changes along the way but the one thing that has always been constant, I think, is my insistence that my work can’t stay the same,” she says.
“I think this attitude, this sense of constant re-awakening, is necessary particularly in people who devote their entire lives to a certain job and who have been in that profession for a long time. Otherwise, they might burn out. If you can allow yourself to make certain changes in your life or in your friendships, you can be brave and accept the new in anything that you endeavour. I think this attitude has certainly made my life more interesting.”
Now 36 years old and married to Chinese singer Li Ronghao – the composer and lyricist of the title track on her newest album Like a Star – since September 2019, Yang shows no sign of slowing down. From trap-pop to neo-soul, Like a Star shows its creator’s artistic curiosity and willingness to play with different styles and genres to push her creative boundaries.
“The titles and nicknames given to me by the public weren’t things I coined myself so I’ve never felt confined by them, and along the way I don’t think that I’ve had one fixed image ” RAINIE YANG
Grey bralette and joggers, and black suit jacket _ Miu Miu
“I think that for every new challenge, there’s always some anxiety in the beginning because there’s so much that’s unknown and you can’t be sure that you’ll achieve what you set out to,” she says of working on the album. “But
I’ve enjoyed every stage of my career.”
Having spent most of 2020 working on Like a Star, Yang was keen to celebrate its release and her two decades in the music industry with a threeday concert series at Taipei Arena in November.
“I think it’s a very happy thing to be able to hold a concert during a pandemic,” she says, smiling. “I was working on the album that this concert was based on at the beginning of the year, so the fact that there were some work delays gave me more time to do an even better job with my tour and album. It was also quite special to see the entire audience wearing masks during the concert. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
Indeed, Like a Star was a new experience on many levels for Yang. “The idea was to get back to my original intentions, to what I wanted to achieve right at the beginning of my career, because I don’t think I’ve really explored music the way I have with this album,” she says. “I’ve also tried to reinvent the way I put on a concert and ventured outside of my comfort zone, so I think the 20th anniversary concert marks a more interesting, multifaceted performance.”
It was also an opportunity to share an important message. “The purpose of the concert was to convey a message of hope – that everyone can be a shining star in their own right because many people regard themselves as unimportant and even feel that they are living very indifferent existences,” Yang says. “So, I hope everyone can truly value themselves and their lives.”
It’s this attitude that made Yang the perfect choice for mentor on Dancing Diamond 52, a Taiwanese competition for aspiring female idols. While her extensive experience in dancing and singing proved indispensable, it was
Yang’s focus on mindset and the importance of learning through trial and error that she felt left a lasting impact.
“I did give them a lot of advice but even with all that, it’s still important to allow them to police themselves,” she says. “In the face of setbacks, I think that each person’s own management of the experience is far more meaningful than anything someone else can tell them.”
“The purpose of the concert was to convey a message of hope – that everyone can be a shining star in their own right because many people regard themselves as unimportant and even feel that they are living very indifferent existences. So I hope everyone can truly value themselves and their lives ” RAINIE YANG