With his classic gentleman’s haircut, boyish charms and vocal prowess, it’s little wonder that Eric Chou has been crowned as “king of lovelorn folks” by Taiwanese media. The 27-year-old Taiwanese singer-songwriter first rose to prominence in 2014 when his self-composed single The Distance of Love for the Taiwanese drama The Way We Were hit 100 million views on YouTube; making Chou the youngest Mandopop artist to reach such a feat at the time. He also made a cameo appearance on the series, marking the beginning of his acting career.
A Sony Music Taiwan artist, Chou has captured many hearts with his emotion-packed ballads—inspired by his own heartbreak—since debuting in 2014. Over the years, he’s released one chart-topping hit after another, and was well on his way to becoming one of the brightest musical stars of our generation. Then the pandemic hit.
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“I hate COVID-19. It really took my job and youth away,” he says in an exclusive interview with BAZAAR. Pandemic or not, Chou’s musical talents are unimpeachable. While using music to hold on to his sanity during quarantine in Shanghai, Chou wrote several songs including Graduation, which now serves as theme song to the 2022 Netflix series《媽，別鬧了！》（Mom, Don’t Do That!).
Not one to rest on his laurels, Chou will be launching his highly-anticipated “The Odyssey Journey” tour in Singapore on 10 and 11 September 2022 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Ahead of his concert, we caught up with the Taiwanese heartthrob to learn more about what he has in store for fans, his next project and more.
At which age did you first discover your affinity for music, and what did you do to hone your craft?
I’ve had a passion for music since I was really young because I grew up attending church services. I’ve always sang and listened to church music as well as songs popular in the 2000s, which led me to fall in love with music. I took piano lessons from the age of nine till I was in high school. It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I wanted to make my own music, which was also around the time I moved to the United States of America for school.
The kind of ballads or music that I write and now perform was mostly self-taught. It was me just sitting in front of a piano, playing around with different chords and coming up with different melodies to match the chords. This took many years to hone, and I’m thankful that I went through that to be able to have what I have now.
Your rise to fame after your self-composed smash hit “The Distance of Love” can be described as meteoric. In your opinion, why do you think it resonated with so many people?
I think it resonates with so many people because everyone goes through a break up once or many times throughout their lives at different times. Love is something that everyone can relate to but no one can really explain—every love is different. So to have something like this that can support, heal and comfort you through your sadness is something very therapeutic. And I think that’s what ballad music is good at; it gives people comfort and strength.
Also, I think what I do with my voice is something that gently hugs people, tells them that everything will be okay. And sort of give them the support that they need. I think my voice has a lot of that energy.
What would you say are your proudest moments in the span of your music career thus far?
The first 100 million YouTube views was big. 2019 was a big year for me because I launched two albums. In 2020, I performed at the Taipei Arena and was one of the first to hold a concert during the pandemic.
Tell us more about the song ‘Graduation’ 最後一堂課, theme song for the Netflix series《媽，別鬧了！》（Mom, Don’t Do That!).
The writing of the song actually had nothing to do with the Netflix series. I wrote it during the 14-day quarantine I had to go through when I went to Shanghai in 2021. It was my first time in quarantine and it was really boring. I think I was freaking out on the third day. Luckily, I went into it prepared. I brought my keys, guitar and computer recording system because we were going to be there for half a year. So thank god I brought all that and could play and write music in my hotel room.
I wrote about six songs during quarantine and Graduation was one of them. While writing it, I just had this feeling that this song was going to be something that people will want to play during graduation. All of the emotions in the song fit the occasion. So when the Netflix series came and they were looking for a theme song, I felt like Graduation tied together with the show so well.
What is your typical creative process like?
I think my creative process has evolved quite a bit. In the beginning, my first heartbreak gave me a lot of ideas to write my first song. Now, my inspiration comes from movies, TV shows and stories from friends. I’ve been writing music for about 16 years now, so sometimes I can just sit in front of a piano and my computer and write a song—heartbreaks are no longer needed. It has become a profession. That said, every now and then, there’s still songs that come from sadness and happiness.
You’ll be holding a highly-anticipated concert in Singapore later this year. What can fans look forward to?
It’s very exciting because we’re doing a completely different show. From stage design to songs and clothing, everything is new. There’s so many songs that I have written since the start of the pandemic that I’ve never performed before.
One very special part of the concert is an extension of a music video I released called shuo tai duo. It’s about a bank robbery; there’s actually more to the story that we filmed that hasn’t been released yet, and it’s only going to be played during my concert. It’s a very action-packed, cool, short film that’s very special.
What is your relationship with fashion, and how would you describe your style?
My relationship with fashion has definitely changed throughout the years. There’s a period from 2017 to 2022 when I had so many hoodies, sweatpants, white Nike sneakers and oversized t-shirts. Then there was a period where I liked wearing dress pants with an oversized t-shirt tucked in.
I think my style has always been just about comfort and fit but also classic. I’ve never been a wild colour person because the idea of fashion for me is something that’s personal—what are you trying to say with your clothes? And I just want to be known as a classic person—a gentleman. This is why suits and buttoned-down shirts and ties are so appealing to me. It’s probably because my middle and high school dress codes were suits. I dreamt of owning a Dior suit or something one day. Now that I have a little money, I want to go and buy a Dior suit because it feels like a dream come true.
What are three words that you believe best describes yourself?
The first word is humour. I used to be very intense and proper onstage, but now I’m letting a little bit more personality out on stage. Second word is loyal, and the third is talented.
What would you like to say to your loyal fans?
I was 24 years old when the pandemic hit, now I’m 27 years old. It’s crazy. I really miss all my fans and performing for them. I miss hearing their stories. I’ve missed their screams and all of that. I’m really happy that I’m finally going to do a concert in Singapore. I’m very excited to see you guys this weekend.
Lastly, what else can we expect from you in the near future?
Definitely more good music and films. Getting into acting has been really fun. In 2021 I acted in my first movie, My Best Friend’s Breakfast. I’m really excited to play different characters now—I’d like to be a really badass bad guy or something, which is a stark contrast to who I am.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.