A lot of the Mainland audience recognize alan through her Inoherb commercials. She looks a bit like Gao Yuanyuan and whenever people people thought of Gao Yuanyuan, they remembered her gum commercials and many people didn't even know her name. However, once you mention the gum commercial, everyone will remember that innocent girl: "she's so pretty!"
It's the same thing with alan right now. Some people love her because of her beauty. Her Inoherb commercials has been played nonstop on TV and the big screens at supermarkets attracting the attention of all girls and boys. Her flowing long hair, her pair of glistening black eyes, this beautiful woman was bound to be noticed by someone. When she was beginning to attract more attention, the news came of that she was returning to the Mainland when she has been releasing CDs in Japan before.
As more and more people know alan, "Bu Bu Jing Xin" hotly aired and the opening song that she sang with Hu Ge, "Yi Nian Zhi Zhuo" became many people's ringtone. 2011 was alan's lucky year as she made more people learn about her existence which is hard to do in this cruel entertainment business.
Her mother was a singing teacher
We scheduled for an afternoon shot and alan appeared right on time. She has great skin, so she didn't even need to put on foundation. She wore a loose Korean-styled T-shirt and said it was more convenient for the shoot. She said she didn't need to worry about getting the collar dirty from makeup and when she's changing, she won't mess up her hairdo. She shot for many magazines lately, so she already have lots of experience.
For about 10 years in the music industry, other than finding some good voices from singing competition, it's hard to find a true singing star. It's hard for record labels to make money, so no one releases new albums or promote newbies. Sometimes online singers will come out, but we can only hear their voices and never see their faces. The young alan missed out on the best era for Cpop, but this era allows her to do other things like shooting movies or being a host. Since her image is good, she doesn't need to worry about finding a job other than singing. She said her company hope that she can act more, but she has no foundation in acting, so since beginning to shoot a micromovie, she has already shot 3.
Before when she was developing in Japan, alan was able to release 4 records a year. Now since returning to the Mainland, she can only release 1 record per year. "Mainland China's music industry can't compare to Japan's or South Korea's, but I hope that I can release 2 records per year". The alan right now is steady in her belief of being a good singer. Compared to 10 years ago when her seniors sang in pubs and basements, alan is a lot luckier, but she has also missed out on a lot of stories and legends.
"I'm Tibetan and minorities really like to sing and dance. My mother was a singer and she would sing Tibetan folk songs." Her mother purposely trained alan to become a singer and little alan would often perform on stage and participate in singing contests in her hometown. The first time when someone applauded her on stage, she felt very confident, so she, herself, wanted to be a singer. When she was little, she learned to play musical instruments. She attended music schools and when she returned home, she would practice enunciating with her mother. Then, she would get her teachers to teach her singing. When she tested for college, she was accepted into an art institution and then she was accepted into PLA Art Academy.
Since her parents were busy working when she was little, alan lived with her grandmother. Her grandmother's place was in a place called Beauty Valley. "Actually, it's just Danba", alan says.
alan was a wild child during that time "Being in Beauty Valley for those 2 years was the happiest time of my life. I would play and eat from sunrise to sunset. After I went to kindergarten and elementary school, I became less wild".
No matter if she was in Chengdu attending middle school or attending college in Beijing, alan's mother was always next to her. "She abandoned her job to come be with me. I feel like she has sacrificed a lot for this family". alan's mother is very strict to alan and sometimes alan would fight with her, but after being apart for so long, alan feels like she's closer to her mother. Whenever alan sings, her mother would be besides her giving her tips. Whenever alan went to the recording studio, alan's mother would follow along. alan's father is more doting on her, so he has never disciplined her.
Surprise victory, Japanese debut
When alan was 18, she attending Avex Trax's audition. This new was released in the music academy and many people went to sign up. alan didn't fully prepare for it and didn't think that she would picked. She uses the term "spirit's doings" to describe this event. She didn't anticipate anything, but she still went to audition because she didn't want to miss this chance of honing her skills.
The day she went was the last day for the auditions. 10 people from the company were there and alan sang one song, played a bit of the erhu, and she was chosen. She didn't feel it was because she was pretty, but instead it was that they liked her way of singing or that she has had professional training, so they didn't need to start from the beginning in training. She was very surprised in being picked, so she didn't prepare herself mentally for it at all. "It's better to debut as early as you can in Japan since many people had their debut when they were 14-15. They hope that I can immediately go to Japan to start my training and then to release a record. However, I'm more conservative, so I would only go after I finished college, so the company waited for me for half a year".
alan wasn't thrilled that she was picked. She struggled and conflicted because she never thought of herself leaving the country. She has always had her mother take care of her and she's not good at taking care of herself. alan's dad opposed her going to Japan. "However, the company said that they would give me 5-6000 RMB for living expenses. Young girls especially want to be independent and not spend their family's money, so I saw this living expense and was moved. I was conflicted for a month, but I still signed the contract in the end".
When alan first went to Japan, she wasn't used to it. She lived in a hotel-like apartment with only a 18-square-feet apartment and it was those rectangular room. "My first thought was...was I deceived?" Everything started from that small room. She couldn't communicate and she didn't have a foundation in dancing. She had to practice dancing with little kids. No language school would accept me, so I could only learn Japanese with my manager and then I found a home tutor. The situation looked better and better". Usually, companies spend 2-4 years to train their newbies, but alan only used 3 months and made her debut.
When she first arrived in Japan, alan was very homesick. Sometimes she would listen to a song and listen till she felt very sad. "It was especially during Lunar New Year and since Japan doesn't celebrate it, I was always working around that time. I didn't get to go home to celebrate for 2-3 years. The company only gave us breaks during New Years. I wasn't used to the food either. I'm from Sichuan, so I love spicy foods, but Japanese cuisine is very light".
alan's first record used a singing technique that felt very Tibetan-ish. In this album, Ryuuichi Sakamoto helped compose "Natsukashii Mirai" and this album had acclaimed reviews after it was released in Japan. In 208, alan sang the theme song for the movie, "RED CLIFF". She went with John Woo to Cannes and sang "Kuon no Kawa" at the press conference.
In January 2010, alan held her tour in Nagoya, Tokyo, and Osaka. Half a year later, she held her second tour in Osaka and Tokyo. She became the first Chinese star to hold a tour in Japan.
In 2011, alan returned to China and it's been 4 years since she first went to Japan. In these 4 years, alan has turned from a little girl who loves singing to a professional singer, a glittering new star.
During this interview, alan was having her makeup done. The makeup artist worked nonstop and alan just faced the mirror without any complaints. This girl is quiet like a cat, a really good cat. When her makeup was done and she stood in front of the mirror, the hairdryer blew up her hair and she had this cool expression. At that moment, her presence was huge.
Has a happy family
After returning, alan signed with one of Beijing's record label. She lived in Beijing and her parents moved from Sichuan to be with her and to take care of her. Even though she never purposely wanted to lose diet, but alan is a lot skinner than during her debut. After her parents came to Beijing, they made sure she was nourished hoping she'll become fatter. "Being a celebrity, sometimes you only eat 1-2 meals, so after some time, it's harsh for your stomach. My mother is really into nutrition, so after she came, I started eating better". However, her parents don't like Beijing. They don't think it's fun here and it doesn't feel like home. Beijing is also a lot drier, so her parents are not used to it. "When I was alone, it was so cold and empty at home, so I was very sad. Now, my parents make midnight snacks for me, so it's really good".
This good girl has always maintained a harmonious relationship with her parents. She is their little chick under their wings. Her parents are willing to keep on protecting her like this. They don't really care if she becomes a star that millions take notice. alan and her parents promised that they would go on a vacation every year. This year's Spring Festival, she took them to Saipan Islnads, Japan, and Taiwan. Last year, they went to Tibet and Thailand, so she has already exceeded her promise.
Since she was little, alan has always been protected by her family. Her older brother was her guardian angel. He never bullied her and always thought of her best interest. Now, her brother is a policeman, and alan says his job is hard.
From Beauty Valley to Chengdu, then to Tokyo and Beijing, her surroundings has kept on changing. Her journey is full of changing people and situations. It's complicated in the entertainment business and does this innocent little girl already have an understanding of it? alan said that she actually doesn't know what the industry is like. She just wants to do the best she can. Her job right now is to perform, shoot commercials, and shoot magazines. She's also learning playing the piano and composing with her teacher and learn pop singing techniques with her vocal teacher such as hip-hop, so her schedule is full.
In this year, alan has slowly gained more popularity. When she's on the plane, the stewardess would say "I really like your songs" and when she's shopping, girls would run over and ask her for autographs. After gaining some fame, alan said she has become more cautious. She won't be like before and saying things as she liked. If she was in a good or bad mood, she would post on her blog since it's not like many people read them. However, she would think about her fans now. "Growing up along with time, I'm doing things more steadily now".
When alan was in Japan, her father would video chat with her and he learned how to use the internet. Now, her dad is even on Weibo and would often search for alan's news. "A lot of news about me, I learn from him", alan says, so for her parents, she can't have any negative news since her father would search it up.
alan has a huge family. Her mother and her three aunts love to sing. One graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music and two from Central University for Nationalities. alan's mother graduated from college for nationalities and after she graduated, she returned to Sichuan. "She sacrificed her career for this family". alan has a cousin that is in a dance troupe. "In our big family, no one has ever divorced. From my grandfather's generation to mine, there are none". In this kind of family, alan has a positive outlook on marriage. It's just that she doesn't have a boyfriend at the moment. As for boyfriend standards, alan says it's fine if he's in or outside of the entertainment industry, but the important thing is that he's nice to girls.
When alan is not working, she's stays at home listening to music, watching DVDs, or chatting with her parents. Sometimes she would go play badminton with friends, swim, eat, or shop. Being a singer is just a career to her, so she hasn't sacrificed too much for this profession. She's only 25 years old, so her story has just begun.