Thursday, December 24, 2009
To celebrate 10 years in the industry, Joey Yung toured China to hold autograph sessions. During one autograph session, some fans had made Joey a picture of her image that was created using candy, and this made her very happy.
On the day of Joey’s 10th anniversary documentary premier, Mani wipes away Joey’s tears, and they are as close as mother and daughter.
This year, looking at the few female singers who are regarded as the Queens of Cantopop, it looks as though their momentum is starting to diminish. Sammi Cheng has only just returned to the music industry after recovering from her depression; Miriam Yeung has just got married and her career is starting to stagnate; Denise Ho is not mainstream enough and the newest Queen of Cantopop, Kay Tse, still needs to develop some more. This is why, for this year, Joey Yung looks to be in the best position and it also happens to be her 10th year in the industry.
Although many people have said that she isn’t pretty enough, and even today, as a Queen of Cantopop, people are still criticising her looks, but 10 years ago this average-looking newcomer female singer managed to top the IFPI sales charts with her first EP, and managed to stay in the charts for 23 weeks, which is a record that no other newcomer has since managed to break. It can be said that Joey Yung is a singer who doesn’t rely on good looks to become successful, which in the Hong Kong music industry makes her in the minority, and as she thinks back to when she first started her career, she remembers meeting the boss of her music company and he devalued her to the point of making her feel worthless.
Looking Back Over The Ten Years
From the many ‘first times’ up until the present, as she thinks about all the changes that have happened to her during the ten years, Joey reckons that she has travelled along a very long road, and how she is today is completely different to how she was back then. However, to give an overview of her career, there are actually 3 main stages to it.
During stage 1, not many people realised that I was an R&B singer
“I feel that the first stage of my career was from 1999 to 2001. At that time, my singing career can be thought of as being in its infancy, and my voice was only starting to develop and become more resonant. I didn’t need to use any special techniques to sing because it was already quite powerful.”
Joey said that she remembers that when she first sang a duet with Roman Tam called ‘誰領風騷” (Shui Ling Fung So), the audience felt that it was very interesting, and the strengths of her voice were more apparent when she performed older songs. However, Joey mentioned that not many people had realised that before 2001, her music company had planned for her to be an R&B singer: “At that time, Japanese and Korean music was very popular, and many of my songs were cover versions of Japanese and Korean songs, so that is why the R&B style was not very apparent.”
During stage 2, my natural singing voice was overused and it was lost
After 2001, Chan Fai Yeung suddenly appeared by Joey’s side, and she stressed that he was a very important person in her life: “It was due to singing his songs that the general public got to know me better. At that time, he compose many songs for me, such as ‘Painful Love’ and ‘Cuddle’, which, to a certain extent, made me more well-known in the karaoke field." From that time onwards, Joey Yung officially had her very own territory.”
However, after a year in which her career had quickly risen, Joey faced the biggest obstacle of her singing career, which is when she lost her voice: “The voice I had which was originally strong and powerful was suddenly lost. At that time, apart from seeing the doctor to treat my throat, I also had to find ways of singing differently. That is why, at that time, I discovered that something you are born with does not last forever, and there is a limit to it. As soon as you overuse it, it will quickly go away.” That is why, after 2001, Joey Yung had changed from being a girl who was born with a good voice to become a singer who achieved success by singing using a good technique.
At stage 3, it started to become clear to me what I wanted, and I also had a say in it.
After a few years in the industry, Joey frankly admitted that she was a singer that was under strict control by her music company. Therefore, all the planning and future directions of her career was determined by professional people in the company, and Joey rarely expressed her opinion about it. However, due to her obedient attitude, her music company started to have some free space during those few years to push Joey to greater success. In 2005, Joey started to feel that it was time for her to think for herself: “In 2005, I released an album called ‘Ten Most Wanted’. There was part of me that didn’t want to be limited to mainstream music, so that’s why I started collaborating with alternative style musicians, such as Mavis Fan and Hanjin. The end result then proved that my way of thinking was also correct.” In 2008, Joey held her StarLight concert, and this had a great significance for her because out of all her concerts, this was the one in which she had the greatest say in the matter. “When I was 28 years old, I started to understand what the things I wanted were, what things I was confident with, and what aspects I was lacking in. This is why I slowly began to feel that I could be more assertive than other people at planning my career.”
My First Humilation
Albert Yeung said I was “cross-eyed and had sloping shoulders”
Joey Yung is a singer who has stayed with the same music company for 10 years, which is rare in the Chinese music industry. Before 1999, she was with a Japanese music company for a few months, but shortly after she was signed by them, the company withdrew from Hong Kong. After that, someone from the same company introduced Joey to Mani Fok.
The first thing that Mani and I talked about was my zodiac sign
“When Mani and I first met, I remember clearly the first thing she said to me, which was what my Chinese zodiac was. I told her it was the monkey and then she went quiet. This might’ve been because she thought people with this zodiac sign would not have a good chance of becoming famous.” Afterwards, Mani Fok looked over Joey like a talent scout, and then she gave a facial impression that didn’t look too good. “At that moment in time, Mani thought I was just a very ordinary girl and she hadn’t heard my singing yet so she had no special feeling towards me.”
After Joey quickly finished her meal, Mani Fok gave her a chance: “Mani said to me: I’m not going to concern myself with too much just now. Actually, even though you’re not too pretty, you are easy on the eye. How about you go for a song audition first? Afterwards, I went to the recording studio to sing a few songs.” Joey remembered that she sang Celine Dion’s ‘Because You Love Me’, Faye Wong’s ‘季候風’ (Monsoon) and Kit Chan’s ‘等了又等’ (Waiting and Waiting). “After listening to me sing, I could see that Mani Fok had an unexpected surprise. In the end, she said to me: OK, I’ll take you to meet my boss.”
Albert Yeung made me feel worthless
Joey had passed the first test, but an experience that Joey will never forget was about to happen. A few days later, Mani took Joey to meet the boss of EEG, Albert Yeung. “At that time, the way that Albert looked at me was in a special way. He treated me like a painting, and having a few gazes, he used a pen to draw some symbol-like shapes on a piece of paper. In fact, he was drawing me.”
Afterwards, Albert Yeung then used an impolite attitude to speak to Joey, and he said some things that nearly made her burst into tears: “At that time, he pointed towards his drawing and he said to me: Look at this, these are your eyes, they are crossed together. Look at your shoulders, they slope like an ‘A’….He then continued to criticise me from head to toe, which made me sound as though I was worthless. In the end, he said to Mani: If you want to sign her, then here are the things that need improving. He then listed many things which made me a bit depressed, and I nearly burst into tears. At that time, what I felt was: Wah! To actually join a music company requires facing so much pressure.”
Joey said that at the time, she had only stepped foot into society for a short period of time. Previously, she had never been criticised like that before, and all the criticism was directed at how she looked, which made her feel ashamed. Even if she was made fun of by the media during the following 10 years, it would still not have been as painful as the scrutiny she faced from Albert Yeung.
The first time I was “followed” by fans
They waited for me in the Tun Mun industrial park until dawn
Of course, during these 10 years, there have been many happy things that have happened to Joey which deserve reminiscing about. For example, 10 years ago, she had her first group of fans for the first time, and they are still supporting her to this day. Each time she thinks about this, Joey feels that all the difficulties she has faced has been worth it: “Even though they are called a group of fans, it was actually only 2 or 3 people. There was one time, when I had only just started my singing career, and I had to go to a Tun Mun industrial park to do some filming for a performance. Before that time, I hadn’t ever felt I had any fans, and I didn’t think that people who didn’t know me would pay any attention to me.” Joey said that during the Tun Mun filming, she was accompanied by her mum and some co-workers. Since the Tun Mun industrial park was far away from the city centre, there weren’t many people in the streets. The filming also took place at night so the streets were more empty than normal. Joey then said: “At that time, after the filming was completed, it was before dawn and I had to walk to the car park. I then felt that there were a few girls following behind me, but at that time, I didn’t know about the concept of music fans, so I thought it was strange. Judging by the clothes that the girls were wearing, they didn’t look like they were from the industrial park, so this was why I deliberately looked around and stared at them. The girls then looked nervous and stared back.”
Afterwards, Joey made the first move and walk towards the group of girls to speak to them. This made the girls very happy, and this was the first time that Joey realised how heart-warming it was for a group of fans to be waiting for her: “It was already very late at night and the girls were waiting for me for a long time in this remote area, and this was the first time I was moved by it.” Afterwards, after considering how late at night it was and that it wasn’t safe for the girls to be in this remote area, Joey asked a co-worker to drive the girls back to the city centre. This group of girls then eventually became some of the staunchest supporters of Joey.
“To this day, these girls are still my fans, and they have followed me for 10 years.” Joey then slightly proudly said that some of these girls have now become adults and some have even become mothers: “A couple of months ago, during a fanclub meeting, I looked for these girls and asked them if they still remembered the Tun Mun event from 10 years ago, but they said they didn’t remember it, which hurt me a little, but I knew they were only pretending not to remember. Nevertheless, that event will always be in my heart."
The first time I went on a diet
Each day, I only ate an apple and a skinless chicken leg
When Joey first started her career, she weighed around 100 cattys (around 68kg), but as her resting times became chaotic, she started to gain weight, which caused some members of the press to give her the nickname “Western District Floating Corpse’. Joey said: “There was one time when Mani and I went to Japan for a vacation, and we shared a room together. When Mani was in the bathroom, I walked past the bathroom door, and the footsteps were quite loud. Mani then said: ‘There’s an elephant outside!’ At that moment in time, what Mani said made me feel uncomfortable, but I knew she said it to make me face up to the problem.”
At that time, even though people were making fun of her because she was overweight, Joey still could not face up to the problem. No matter what, she would not disclose her weight to anyone; not even Mani. When she eventually did face up to the problem, she was nearly 82kg.
“In the end, with the help of Mani, I managed to lose the weight. At that time, Mani’s belly was also large and many people thought she was 4-months pregnant, but because she wasn’t an artiste, it didn’t really matter. But because she wanted to give me the motivation to lose the weight, she decided to go on a diet with me. The period afterwards was quite hard because I had to force myself not to eat. Each day, I would eat only an apple and a skinless chicken leg.”
Joey said that at the time, her belly felt cold all the time: “To lose the weight, Mani didn’t let me eat anything, and at that time, she scared me to death. That was why I hid under the bed to eat some potato chips, but if she were to discover me doing this, she would not scold me for it. Instead, she will coldly say to me: “You must really want your singing career to end before it’s even begun”. To this day, this phrase has been my motto.”
In the end, Joey managed to successfully lose the weight because a weight-loss company saw the fat on her and invited her to be a spokesperson for the company, which eventually led to her having some professional weight-loss therapy.
Major events during her 10 years
The EP released in 1999, called ‘Joey’, sold 130,000, and she broke the record for being the first singer to have an album stay in the sales charts for 23 weeks, across two centuries. This record has yet to be broken by any newcomer.
In 1999, she won the best newcomer award at several music award ceremonies for the song ‘Not Know’, which was the main plugged song from her EP.
In 2001, she held the ‘Solemn on Stage’ concert. (rsung: shouldn’t this be the H20+903 concert?)
In 1999, she had a guest appearance in ‘The Accident’.
In 1999, she shot a skincare commercial.
10th Anniversary Commemorative Activities
10th Anniversary Concert
At the beginning of October, Joey held a concert in Hong Kong called the ‘Perfect 10 Music Show’. This music show took her classic songs from her past 10 years and new arrangements were given to them. Arrangement styles such as Big Band and Bossanova were used, and this highlighted Joey’s development during these 10 years. In particular, ‘Not Known’, which made her famous, was given a jazz arrangement, and this song was one of the highlights of the show.
10th Anniversary Documentary
Last Sunday, a premier was held for the screening of Joey’s 10th anniversary documentary, and the DVD for it was released last Thursday (rsung: yeah, right! haha). The documentary looks back at the illustrious 10 years of Joey’s career, and it also includes her classmates from school, her close friends and her mentor talking about their memorable events with Joey and how she feels about them. Furthermore, the DVD also has a precious clip of Roman Tam suddenly appearing at one of Joey’s concerts, which gave her a big surprise. Also included on the disc are clips from the commercials and MVs she has filmed over the years. Mani revealed that the preorders for Joey’s documentary DVD has already gone past platinum status.
Translated by: rsung @ www.joeygalaxy.com
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