A Chinese version of this post is available below. 中文版在下面.
As Typhoon Fitow greeted Taipei this weekend with wind and rain, l somehow found comfort in listening to Lara Liang’s hit song, “Rainy Day 下雨天”. We recently sat down with the talented Lara, also known as Lara Veronin, at Chu In Cafe to learn more about her career in the Taiwanese music industry. And if you’ve never been fortunate enough to see her perform live, you’ll get your chance at the upcoming Taipei543 Neon Run!
We’re excited to have you perform at our Neon Run! What tips do you have for exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
Honestly, the keyword [is] “lifestyle” because I think a lot of people get in the habit of really unhealthy dieting patterns and even over-exercising. The key to maintaining anything is making [it] enjoyable, making it a part of your lifestyle.
When I first entered the Taiwanese entertainment industry, I used to diet, but instead of losing weight, I gained weight and it was horrible. For many years, I didn’t have a normal relationship with food, dieting, and things like that, so I finally quit and just wanted to be healthy. I also do yoga…it’s not really about losing weight, it’s about changing your relationship with your body and fine-tuning things—and not having any “restriction foods”. It’s about being good to yourself.
Before we talk about your musical career, can you first tell us three interesting facts about yourself that people might not know about you?
1. Whenever I hear clapping, even if it’s on TV, I start clapping as well. It’s like a natural instinct for me.
2. My favorite quote is from The Alchemist: “There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
3. I’ve attended 15 different schools…or something like that, I’m not very good at math. (laughs)
I know you’re originally from Los Angeles —how was the experience of moving to Taiwan after growing up in LA?
As a child, my family and I actually moved back and forth from LA and Taipei many times—like every six months. This continued until my sister finally declared to our parents that she and I liked being at TAS (Taipei American School) and wanted to stay in Taipei. TAS is full of mixed-race Taiwanese students who spoke Chinese AND English! It is where I felt like I was being accepted.
This all is a part of how my sister and I started TAWKI, Taipei As We Know It, a new webseries. We’re hoping to let people know what it’s like to live in Taipei, and just how great it is. We recently released, “Scratch and Win”. It is not the pilot episode, but a snippet of TAWKI that introduces one of the characters. We have not started filming the webseries yet, and we will be beginning our crowdfunding efforts soon, so stay tuned!
That sounds great – we’re looking forward to it! Can you tell me about your childhood and how you got involved in music?
My father was a singer/songwriter and my sister and I always loved singing when we were younger. I used to play the violin and was tired of carrying the instrument everywhere, and one day someone told me about choir, and that’s when I was more involved with singing. I entered the music industry while I was still in high school and originally signed as a solo artist, but later I became part of a band, Nan Quan Ma Ma (南權媽媽), with three other males.
How was your experience with being a part of 南拳媽媽? Any awkward moments being the only female in the group?
Yeah, of course there were lots of awkward moments, but I learned a lot from them. I got really good at changing in the car! Sometimes we did not have enough time to change, so the boys just changed in the car. I would tell them to look the other way and did the same. But really, it is because of 南拳媽媽 that I saw the other members write their own songs, which made me realize that I could do it too, so they helped me get into songwriting.
You also sang “Coral Sea 珊瑚海” with Jay Chou, how was it like working and touring with him?
At first it was surreal. I remember when they first told me Jay Chou was in the building, I immediately stood up and asked, “Where’s is he?!?” But now he’s like an older brother to me and it’s an interesting switch, when his songs were all that me and my friends ever sang at KTV when I was younger. Initially, I was shy about performing at his concerts. It usually went like this: “Hi, I’m Lara”, a performance, and then I went off stage. But later, I watched and learned from other performers. Now that I am a solo artist, the stage is mine and I’m always aiming to connect with my audience whenever I perform.
Now that you have gone solo, how has your musical career changed?
Going solo gives me a lot more creative freedom. For my last two albums, I was able to write my own songs, work on creating different themes for my two albums, Hello Lara and Free Spirit, and the songs within each album all relate to the album’s specific concept. Now, it has been more about creating the music that I want and not necessarily the pop music that everyone sings to at KTV, so it definitely has its advantages and disadvantages.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully a concert in January, and the concert will have [a] theme that immerses the audience in both a visual and audio experience. Aside from working on TAWKI, I will also be working on another album and collaborating with other artists as well. I’ve realized that songwriting isn’t hard for me, but I want to make music that will move people.
Can’t wait for what Lara has in store for us next! Stay up to date on news about the Taipei 543 Neon Run below and see Lara perform.
*Come to Taipei543 Neon Run 5K 螢光夜跑!
我們非常期待也很感謝你這次在螢光路跑的表演. 對於保持健康的運動及生活習慣, 你有沒有什麼祕訣?
老實說, 關鍵是你的“生活方式”. 因為很多人容易養成不好的節食或是運動過量的習慣. 維持任何良好習慣的方法是真心去享受, 讓它成為你生活的一部份。
我剛進台灣演藝圈的時候也都會用節食的方法減肥, 但是卻造成了反效果讓我體重增加. 我有好多年沒辦法正常吃東西，得忌口之類的。所以我最終還是放棄，我只要維持健康就好。我也會做瑜珈，這不是真的要減肥，而是去改變自己和身體的關係，做一些身體上的微調。不做任何食物限制。這是為了你自己好。
1. 我只要聽到掌聲就會也一起鼓掌. 就算掌聲是從電視的另一端傳來我也會照做. 有點像是天生的自然反應。
3. 我念過15間不同的學校….差不多15間之類的吧? 我數學不太好 (笑)。
其實從小我就跟著家人不停地在台北和洛杉磯這兩個城市間搬家往返, 幾乎可以說是每六個月搬家一次。直到有一天我姐姐終於認真的跟爸媽溝通說我們喜歡在台北美國學校念書也想要繼續住在台北, 我們才真正的在台北定居下來。台北美國學校是一個文化很多元的學校, 裡面的學生中英文都能普遍使用. 在那裡我有著被接受的感覺。
我父親曾經是歌手也是歌曲作家. 我跟姐姐也從小就愛唱歌。我以前也有練過小提琴, 後來是有點懶得背著樂器到處跑。有一天有人跟我提到合唱團, 從那時起我開始比較熱衷於唱歌這件事。 我在高中時期就進了音樂界, 一開始是自己出道. 後來加入了南拳媽媽, 跟另外三位男生一起出唱片。
當然, 有過不少尷尬的時候。 但我也從中學到許多. 像是我變的很會在車子裡換衣服(笑)! 有時候我們真的是沒時間換衣服, 所以其他的男生團員就會在車上換裝. 我通常都會叫他們看另外一邊然後也就在車上換衣服。說真的, 是那時看到其他南權媽媽團員在自己寫歌, 才讓我覺得我也應該可以。於是在他們的協助下我也開始作詞作曲。
你跟周杰倫合唱了 “珊瑚海”, 跟他一起工作和巡迴演唱的感覺如何?
一開始真的覺得有點超現實. 我記得他們剛跟我說周杰倫在同一棟樓的時候, 我立刻站了起來問他在哪.
在跟他合作前, 我跟朋友去KTV也都只會唱周杰倫的歌. 但他現在對我來說就像是一個哥哥. 這是一個蠻有趣的轉變。
我剛開始在周杰倫演唱會表演時其實非常害羞. 我通常在每次的表演就只會說 “嗨, 我是Lara” 然後就下台. 之後我觀察了其他的表演者也學到了很多. 現在單飛後每次表演也都會跟觀眾互動。
單飛之後我在創作上得到比較多的自由. 我上兩張專輯, 我自己寫了幾首歌, 也自己決定了兩張專輯的拍攝風格. 現在我比較希望製作出我想作的音樂, 不一定要是大家在KTV都愛唱的流行音樂. 所以這也是有好有壞。
希望一月可以辦一場演唱會. 這場演唱會有主題而且讓觀眾可以有視覺跟聽覺全方位的體驗. 除了忙TAWKI之外, 我也會和其他藝人合作準備另一張專輯. 我開始發現寫歌對我來說其實不難, 但我希望可以做出感動人心的音樂。
我們都非常期待Lara未來的作品. 想來螢光夜跑聽Lara現場演唱的記得按這裡. 我們之後將陸續介紹更多有關於Lara正在製作的TAWKI影集. 請大家拭目以待。
*Come to Taipei543 Neon Run 5K 螢光路跑!
Photography 攝影- Eme Jota