You may know her as the ‘Dolphin Princess’ of China and see videos of her floating around on Facebook and other social media platforms. But this lady is so much more than that! Jane Zhang is a shining blimp on the world’s radar as she is one of the first Chinese artists to break into the Western music scene. Now, more than ever, Asian artists and musicians are making a huge splash in the West, getting actual air-time on the radios and being invited to sing at music festivals and concerts. In their native language, no less!
The time is now for Jane.
Just recently, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter became the first Asian performer to sing at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2017 and was watched by millions. Known for her impeccable singing technique and incredible voice, she mixes her clear vocals with catchy EDM melodies. In December 2017, Jane dropped her super catchy English song, ‘Work For It’, which has garnered over 2 million views and counting.
Related article: Who Is Jane Zhang?
BAZAAR chats with Jane on her aspirations, music inspiration and guilty pleasures.
1. Who is your biggest music and style inspiration?
Musically, Mariah Carey is my biggest inspiration. She was an explorer and trend setter in both singing style and harmonic designs.
In terms of style, I like to study many different concert performances and music videos. I really enjoy the totality of live concerts, how fashion and music and visual art come together to give off very unique energy. I also find a lot of my stylistic inspirations through music videos.
2. Tell us a little bit more about your new music video ‘Work For It’ and what is the music direction you are taking right now?
I think first impression is very important, so I would like to wait for the music video to be out first.
3. What is the most memorable moment in your entire music career?
There are too many really. But the most memorable has to be the life changing experience with the Super Girl competition. Recently I have been quite nostalgic of many things in the past. Although in the early days of my career I didn’t really have the best performance techniques, but my music expression was very direct and raw. It’s also because of Super Girl that I was able to begin my professional singing career.
4. How does it feel to be the first Asian musical act to perform at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?
I was ecstatic and also very honored to be one of the performers on the 2017 Victoria Secret Show. I’ve followed the VS Fashion Show for many years, not only for the legs and beautiful angels but also for the performers. The way Victoria Secret show seamlessly combines music, design, fashion and beauty to create such a wonderful experience with amazing energy is something I really enjoy about the show. Being able to perform on the show I’ve followed for so long is a bit surreal.
5. Who is your favourite VS Angel? Why?
All the angels are all beautiful in their own ways. Personally, I really like Liu Wen because I am more familiar with her. I like her confidence on the runway, especially the control and power she shows, and she does it in such a graceful and natural way. She has a great vibe!
6. Do you think that Asian musicians are building a strong International following and will be featured more in Western music shows? (Eg. Grammys, etc)
Western music has been an inspiration to many young people from China, it’s also become an important element in our culture. As an artist and singer, I hope my audience comes from a diverse background and that I can connect with as many people as possible. I’ve been asked before how I would measure success as an artist internationally, my hope is that when people listen to my music, race or nationality is not the first thing they think about. I hope they like me for my music. Internationalization and openness is the general trend, I believe more Asian artists will find ways to merge Eastern and Western elements in their music and find their way onto the global stage.
7. What are the 5 items cannot be without when you have long haul flights?
Moisturizing mask, humidifier, breathing mask, sleeping pills and books.
8. How do you think your music style has evolved over the years?
I wasn’t trained from a young age to be a singer, so I didn’t receive professional training until after my status became a singer. I’ve been performing professionally and learning at the same time throughout my singing career. Looking back I do believe I’ve evolved a lot. But every stage of my evolution was driven by my passion to sing, and to pursue new things I discover in music. I never characterized myself as a specific style singer, I am a strong believer in trying new and exciting things. Every style of music has its charm, my biggest enjoyment of music is for the music itself, not as an artist. I’ve tried many styles of music, but from time to time, I have a stronger preference for one style over the others. I would like ballads in one period and EDM or operas or folk songs in the next. I’ve tried integrating different styles of music into my concerts from very early on, I enjoy bringing different styles of singing and energy to my audience.
Related article: These Are This Year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Performers
10. If there’s one song to describe yourself, what would it be and why?
“I Believe” I wrote the lyrics to this Chinese song myself. It was written during a very conflicted period in my life. I wrote this song to myself. Belief is the driving force behind my actions and is my emotional pillar. When I am faced with adversity, belief can help me work through any problem.
11. If you could only sing one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Then I would probably stop singing. I don’t sing because I’m a singer, but rather I am a singer because I like to sing. If you want me to give up the forest for one tree, then I would probably pick something else to do, something that doesn’t limit me.
12. Guilty pleasures?
Recently I’ve been spending most of my time either recording in the studio or eating food or dessert. I do love getting massages though, and oh yes, Starbucks!