On June 2, 6 days ago, Karen Mok celebrated her 48th birthday in Taipei. In the afternoon, she blew out the candles that inserted in the birthday cake which means the shape is like the football, with the witness of more than a dozen fans who came to celebrate her birthday in the backstage of the 2018 HITO Pop Music Awards rehearsal held by the Taipei Arena, and to thank all the people who are coming. The shape of the cake is taken from her new album “Half Time”, which was officially released at the end of May. There is also a red classic logo, which belongs with/ design by the Karen Mok herself on the top of the birthday cake. She said that logo is a “Catman” with her own surname strokes. And the cat is her favorite animal.
15 hours before the birthday day ceremony began, the hour hand just crossed the midnight; she just landed at the Taoyuan airport from Beijing to Taipei. Karen mok, wearing a cap without any make up, posted a photo at the airport on her Weibo official account. In the photo, her hair is blown out by the wind and slimed happily. It is easy to say that she was so happy to celebrate her birthday. It is the leisure time that she hard to enjoy.
This year is the 25th anniversary of Karen Mok’s acting career. She has been accustomed to living a life filled with work, even on her birthdays. Especially, she is bustling/rushing during the new album promotion period. On May 28th, she invited fans and several media companies including China Music Business to Taipei Eslite bookstore to participate in her 25th anniversary exhibition and new album audition. Face the outside world, she always showed her best side. When she was wearing a bright red off-the-shoulder jumpsuits and a pair of ten-centimeter red high heels appeared on the stage, the audience gave the most enthusiastic feedback. Throughout the whole day, she actively interacted with the host, accepted the interviews and introduced her own exhibitions through online platform, smiled and accepted the praises from the audience. At night, she also had dinner with several media companies from the mainland China.
At the dinner table, she put herself in a relax situation, and made a joking about her body is in good shape as a workaholic. While, some of her colleagues who worked in record companies are gaining weight so much. About half a month later, she was preparing her first 25th anniversary concert tour, so that she starts dieting. During that time, white rice almost became the only food for her every meal. Some of her fans knew that she kept this habit, they sent her three small bags of white rice on her birthday party. She was so happy, waving two bags in the air like lifting a dumbbell.
Gradually, the “Model worker” began to spread out. She laughed herself, said, “many artists would post a lot of photo about cates, pets and show their daily life through the Weibo. As for me, I only broadcast about my work.” The habits of many years have enabled Karen to build/ get an ability that called “more busy and more enjoyable”. On the next day after the audition, she flies to Beijing to prepare for the upcoming album-opening concert on the 31st. She felt so incredible that after a long flight should have been exhausted. While she sitting in front of the dressing table, she felt so excited about the performing. This may be a natural desire for performance, or perhaps the performance day gave her strength. When she decided to put on the purple sequin “suit” that was accompanied her pass the 19th Taiwan Golden Melody Awards in 2008. It recall rom her win the glory moment of the first “Best Album” award in her life.
She won’t forget the early summer night of the ten years ago in Taipei Arena, the most important prize of “Best Album” Golden Melody Award is meant the world to her. The album “L!VE IS… Karen Mok” is the first time she has worked as a music producer, and her has composed all 10 songs. It is also the last album she worked with the record company that she collaborated with. At the time of the digitalization of the music industry, in the face of the upcoming contract, the major changes of music industry, she thinks this may be the last record in her acting career. Indeed, factual have proofed that this conclusion is decided too early. Eventually, she regained her confidence on the stage, and thanked the other two album creators, Li Shaoxiong and Terry Chen. Karen was so exited so that to use the trophy as a microphone.
The significance of the award is more than that/ goes beyond that. The award presenter, Jonathan Lee, grant the award to her at prize-giving night. Taiwan where brings lucky for Karen Mok, it is first place that the Mandarin album she launched has gradually been accepted by the market, and Jonathan Lee is the one who contributed to it. Xiaosong Gao once commented on Jonathan Lee in his Talk Show ‘Morning Call’ said, “Jonathan Lee cultivated singers of Rolling Stones Records for years, as the water in the well to nourish the land. Karen Mok is one of the artists who were promoted by Jonathan Lee during the Rolling Stones.”
Sometimes, she recalled that dinner when she first time met Jonathan Lee. It was not pleasant, and even strange during that dinner because Jonathan Lee did not look at Karen Mok from beginning to end. At that time, Karen Mok was so nervous about that. She knew that she was too young and too inexperienced. Thus, she thought this was a fruitless meeting. Surprisedly, a few days later Karen Mok received a call from Jonathan Lee to confirm and sign a contract. After many years, Karen Mok still plays a joke on Jonathan Lee that “You wouldn’t be staring my legs at that time?” Actually, Jonathan Lee is very important for Karen Lee. He is like her teacher and the key person to guide her music career.
It is the hot spot at the award ceremony on 2011 that Karen Mok announced she would get married. Inexpertly, no one would think she would announce that she would marry her German boyfriend the end of the year.
“How has marriage changed your life?”China Music Business News had an officially conversation with Karen Mok on the sunny afternoon before her birthday, in Beijing. She looks very nice that day. During the interview, she will pick up the coffee cup every few minutes and take a light breath. Facing the reporter’s question, she thinks about a few time and said, “Now I will feel at ease and reliable because there is person always supporting me.”
Sometime, she has some problems about “worries of married people”. On the 31st, the first singer, some net friends asked her to pose a sexy poses on the scene. She was a little bit awkward. Because she said “I am married”. But, under expectation of the host and the audience, she finally cooperated very well, finishing the performance.
Marriage also brought a bit of personal space to her life. In 2014, Karen Mok and her husband settled their work, planed their trip and flew to South America to start their three-month trip. They spent an unforgettable time rafting on the Amazon River and taking in the beauty of the Machu Picchu ruins. In a previous interview, Karen Mok talked about this trip and said, “to face some new environment, new places and strangers, you can re-recognize and find yourself.”
She admitted that she is workaholic. Because of that it urged herself to come back to work after leaving for a few days. She said, “I have more spirit when I have a job.” When she was at a dinner in Taipei a few days ago, she revealed that because of her husband’s work required, she settled in London after marriage and will spend the Spring Festival in London. She is not shy about talking about her sweet moments with her husband and accepting their envious eyes. Because of her focus of work is in China, she still has to balance both sides. She said breezily, “Well, everywhere is home for me.”
Conversation with Karen Mok:
“Working with different musicians, I am like a sponge learned a lot.”
CMBN: What preparations have you been making for the concert recently?
Karen Mok: I did a lot, like dancing, singing, remembering lyrics, and keeping fit. Of course, fitness not for losing weight. This concert tour has great scale and time consuming. This tour will last for 18 months. It really physically and mentally needs more and more energy and spirit. We have been planning this tour more than a year ago, and the rehearsal started a few months ago.
CMBN: Why is the new album called ‘Half Time’? Is this your idea?
Karen Mok: Yes, everything is come out of myself. I first thought of the concept of the half time because every year the US Super Bowl (halftime show) is a wonderful performance. The concept of practicality is to hope to be like a halftime party. My music journey is also a point in the halftime, so I feel that I should celebrate it, and use this opportunity to thank fans and those who support me.
In the past of twenty-five years ago of my whole life, I knew that I was very lucky. I have had many opportunities to work with the best and most outstanding musicians. Each of them has affected me and inspired me a lot. If without these opportunities, I would not be successful. So, I think I can use an album to thank the musicians who have worked with me together and to enjoy the music again, having a lot fun. (Note: The concept of “Half Time” is divided into “first half” and “second half”. Taking the 25th anniversary of Karen Mok’s acting career as the boundary, there are different musicians collaborate with Karen Mok. Among them, “the first half” of musicians includes Sisong Yao, Yao Qian, Lun, Anthony, Francis Lee, Jonathan Lee, Zhang Yadong, Wu Bai, etc. The “second half” includes Khalil Fong, Matzka, LAY, Youngho Lee, Hua Chenyu, JJ Lin, Yao Ruolong and so on.)
CMBN: Including this album cover, I feel like you always like to use your own portrait to make a cover?
Karen Mok: Yeah! Because I am beautiful, isn’t that true? (Laughter)
CMBN: What is the idea of this new look of this time?
Karen Mok: Because this album and concert are basically one idea. Although they are called different names, come from a same concept of a ball game.
For example, the concert poster, because I want to let everyone have a look at a football game, I would like to wear high heels and dresses. But I step on a football, the surface of the football is the earth. There are a lot of things that can be explained inside. For instance, you could imagine you are a actor or athlete. When people come on the stage, the stage would turn into your battlefield.
Although the albums photos are portraits, you may find that only the lip color is different. Everyone should not have thought of it. I used three colors of red, gold and bluish violet to blending any other color. It’s the same as doing music. With the most basic things, there just are eight notes. You can play any score through those notes.
CMBN: How long has it taken before and after the official preparation of the album to the final release?
Karen Mok: almost more than a year.
CMBN: Will you communicate with them in advance what kind of songs do you want, when these musicians compose songs for you?
Karen Mok: Of course, I have to talk to them about the theme.
CMBN: Is there any specific concept you have?
Karen Mok: I mean there is something specific, but I do not classify what exactly theme I want. For instance, we would talk the music type and music style would be love song or the emotion would be lively. Basically, we will clarify the music form and style. Because each of them are the greatest musicians, so I don’t want to limit them inspirations. Also, I look forward to knowing that how each of them will think about me and what kind of music work they would like to write for me.
CMBN: This album is a very memorable one. Have you ever thought about composing a song by yourself? May be you would know more about yourself what you want.
Karen Mok: I feel that this album is a gift to fans. I want to thank everyone, including these musicians. Of course, I have thought about whether one of the songs was written by myself would be better, such as added the guzheng. But I think it is appropriate that they response for those pieces.
CMBN: Are there any important events happened in your twenty-fifth anniversary?
Karen Mok: If you are talking about the music, of course, from the very beginning of the Cantonese album to issue the album in Taiwan, this act is very crucial. I think Jonathan Lee is has prescient move, because at that time the music scene/ music world in Hong Kong was very popular and it was in a good prosperous. But he has already targeted the Chinese market was more important with the long-term development. Therefore, I feel that it is right place to start my music career. Obviously, I am also very fortunate, because Jonathan Lee also gave me plenty of the best resources, cooperated with the best people and sang his works at that time. Thus, Jonathan Lee is the important person for me.
I feel that working with different musicians, I am like a sponge to absorb some of the features they have. When I sing, it seems that I am also an actor. Imagine that I may get different scripts，play different roles and explored other possibilities of myself.
After I collaborate with Jonathan Lee, he said he want explore my other possibilities. It is he to believe that I could be a quite feminine, presenting a female charm. It is he made me believe that I can do it because before that, I do not pay more attention on that.
Later, I met Zhang Yadong. He gives me another space to create because at that time I started my own creation. I feel it was very exciting that there were two albums that were written by myself. It was a new experience for me. Then I started running a studio, managed myself and become more aware of myself what I want.
So I think all these experiences are crucial for me. Without any one of those, I cannot do better.
CMBN: About acting, what is the relationship between singing and acting for you?
Karen Mok: I think singing is like acting. I just sing a story or play a character through the melody of music. If you really ask me which I prefer, I still feel that the music is more important for me because it is indispensable. Even if people watch a movie, it would not hard to notice that a movie with no background music and no soundtrack. Even if a song doesn’t have lyrics, people still can hear a story. Music will guide people immersed in story. Therefore, music is something that cannot be replaced, and it is indispensable.
CMBN: What do you think is the biggest change in the past 25 years?
Karen Mok: Of course, growing up is inevitable. For now, I would keep calm when problems come up. However, I feel that there has been on thing no change is my passion and love about music and acting. Some people may be exhausted about acting and music after many years, but I am getting more and more energetic and enthusiasm. I will enjoy every performance, especially on the stage, I think it is very precious and rare.
CMBN: Then what changes do you think your marriage has brought to your life?
Karen Mok: The change is affirmative. I don’t know how to explain it. It feels like I just made a ceremony, but it will make me feel there is something different. Of course, the most important thing is that you need to find the right person, and do the right thing with the right person when you think it is the right time. Now I feel more happy and easy. It seems that I have a person that I can reply on. I should be able to say this (laughter), but I don’t mean that I don’t have to care about other things. He will take care of me. It is a feeling that I feel stable.
CMBN: You said before that the secret of stay young forever is is to maintain a good mood. So could you please tell us that what do you usually do to maintain a good mood? For example, do you play Tik Tok?
Karen Mok: Actually, I played it for a while, because the song “like you slowly” is used as background music for every one to play it. (Laughter)
Indeed, I play the Tik Tok every day. I think that work is like a game for me. It is not to say that playing is not serious. But just playing is a kind of enjoyment. You will be very energetic when you do what you love. So sometimes, if there is no any job to take, I will become more and more exhausted. When I have work to do, I will be more spiritual and more energetic. Thus, that should be the reason why I have always kept the young.
CMBN: Are you a person who will separate the work and your personal life?
Karen Mok: For me, work is life. Of course, my private time will be separated. Some Artists would like to post certain pictures about food, their daily life on Weibo official account. However, I do not have specific staff to post on Weibo because job is my life and there is nothing else at all. It is hard for me to separate job and my personal life because both are same me.
CMBN: Twenty-five years is quite a long time, and there will be many changes in the music world. For example, many people now feel that hot spot/ heat rate for measuring if an artist is popular or not. So the question is as an artist who has a long-term career goal, what do you think about this?
Karen Mok: I think this is a phenomenon in the whole society. It is not just an artist or a public figure, even though s child may know that I have to post something particular in order to receive any thumbs up and like. Everyone cares about this so much for now. But how can your life depend on how many likes to prove that you are unwelcome, or that you are a person with many friends, or that many people like you, can’t you?
Our value cannot be placed on these things and numbers, especially since I have experienced those before. I found that this is not good for people wither in mentally or physically. The so-called tittle can’t prove everything, I think that people still have to return to yourself, especially if you are an artist who is doing creative work, the work is the only thing that would affect people. That is the thing to value the people is successful or not.
Maybe the singers have issued their song. And may be it would be occupied the ranking for a while, have been heard by many people. But does anyone would think about this music work would continue to be popular and be remembered by people forever? How many people would be touched by your music work? I think those are meaningful things to think about it, not how many likes you have got.
CMBN: Facing the current social situation, would you worry about being forgotten by young people one day?
Karen Mok: Every work of myself is like my child. I do care about my every song and music pieces. It is made of my painstaking effort. I try my best to do the best music to my fans and to every one, putting a great effort and being serious for years. If any of my music would affect and touch people. This is thing that I want to achieve.
I do not think what I care about is the so-called tittle and hotspots. No one will think that you are great because of how many likes you have. That is just an illusion. I do not want people will remember me forever, but remember my music is thing that I really want and that has meaningful for me.
Translated by Meiling Liu
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