Trans [Modern Music Field Magazine] Interview: Zhou Mi's Miraculous Fate with Stardom


  • When he was younger he “thought” about being a singer, but when he really “became” a singer, he realised there were many things he had to bear.
  • Life is really breath-taking, you can never tell what might happen 5 years later or 10 years on from now. When I joined this company, I never thought that there’d be a day where I could do a solo dance number.
  • I am someone who treats a person nice if it goes both ways, once is enough for me to remember for my entire life.
  • At times the things are say on weibo could look hypocritical to people, but that really is my way of motivating myself and pushing me froward. Because I am not someone who pours out my troubles to my confidantes easily. But it is still important that I keep encouraging myself.

Before Zhou Mi went to Korea he used to listen to Mando-pop, he never thought that he would have the opportunity to debut in a boy band, and even go about his solo activities with a dance number as the title hit. The wee hours in the morning after filming his solo title hit <Rewind> MV, he sat alone in the van thinking, he once dreamt about having an MV shoot for a ballad as his solo title track, it was surprising how he ended up dancing for 3 consecutive days for the filming of his MV, “Life is pretty interesting, the heavens may not necessarily let things flow the way you originally planned for them to.” 6 years after debut, Zhou Mi has already learnt the tactics to stage performance, despite having many subjective comments that often places him in a controversial talk,although being a singer is really difficult, with the future ahead of him, it was necessary to brave through the resistance. Zhou Mi says, no matter it is in being a person or in being a singer, it is important to have such an understanding.

Walking in the face of controversies

It can be said in this way, Zhou Mi is who grew stronger amidst the constant negative criticisms thrown at him since his debut, being a Chinese member of SJM, being Zhou Mi himself, he often raised much controversies. However, when he was a new artiste he did not get many chances to speak up, and was unable to defend himself when problems came to him, even not knowing whether explaining was the correct way out. Hence, the more he spoke, the worse it got. Today, solo promotions have been kick started, Zhou Mi takes with him the many judgemental looks from others and actively works on his schedules. Although criticism continues to linger, he chooses to walk his path with them because the chance is so precious. Through his solo, he wants to let more people know hi, and his songs, including in the future, he hopes for more chances to walk the talk, and let people know that “ Actually Zhou Mi is like this”.

Q: How many ‘unfair’ things have you gone through?
A:  People who know me all know that I am someone who is very straight, friends know that I do not beat about the bush. There was once I felt that being an artiste results in facing a lot of talk and stress, that once I slacken there would be many controversies attacking, and that was a huge deal to me. But to me now, things like this do not happen just occasionally once or twice, I have come to terms with them.

Q: So right now it is “I don’t care” already?
A: It is not that I don’t care, I care a lot, in fact I want to solve the problem. For example, as compared to letting myself explain a situation that did not occur, I’d rather put effort into doing my promotional activities. No matter the response is good or bad, my solo album has already been produced, I have accounted to the people who like me, I have also accounted to myself for all these years of effort, let people who previously didn’t know about me hear my voice, this itself is a very huge step of improvement. Even if gossips give me a lot of stress, I have realised that, actually I can be better than I thought I would do.

Q: In the midst of your solo activities now, did you meet with any unexpected problems?
A: When I was younger, I used to think that pre-debut was pretty smooth, at that time I used to get awards at competitions, and I got quite a bit of recognition. Subsequently, I think that debut was also smooth sailing, but after my debut, I was faced with many different judgements. Things I heard and saw that were unlike how I thought it would be increased in volume, only then I realised that things were not easy, honestly, before debut I never thought I would face so much of response, be it good or bad ones, but these were words that all formed part of my motivation process. Because things people were concerned about were varied and diverse, their views and comments of me would not be the same, nice one definitely made me happy, while I took the negative ones as a warning to myself. Yet, I am not the kind of person who would get trapped within my troubles and be unable to move on. No matter what I had to move forward.

Q: Looking back at the times of your trainee years, which event left the deepest impression on you?
A: I am the type that once I lock in a targeted goal, I would take small steps towards it and make sure I succeed. When I was a trainee, in order to catch up with everyone’s pace, language was also something that I stayed back to practice and kept progress records of apart from attending standard lessons. Practice was a given, everyone was improving, if my performance was not up to standard, I would affect everyone else. The stress then was extremely huge, and then there was once I meet Teacher Lee Soo Man at an audition. Upon seeing him, I cried. Actually, there was no special reason, neither was I particularly sad but I cried badly. Now that I think of it, luckily I only cried then and walked up till now.

Making the impossible possible

Up till now, Zhou Mi is most thankful he found the courage to step into dancing. And he once thought “doing solo activities in Korea” would be a dream that could never be completed. This time, after using about 2 years of preparation for a solo album, even right up to before the album was produced, Zhou Mi still could not really believe he could do activities in Korea alone, and these worries caused him to repeated practice countless times. Yet, when the solo MV filming was completed, he realised that the timing was in fact the best for him -  imagine if the solo was produced 2 years earlier, he would only be at a loss in many situations.  Promoting in Korea was all about chance with only one attempt at a Live performance, it was extremely competitive, Zhou Mi’s amateur skills was easily exposed, but it drove him to practice and improve himself even more. To him, these hard times were a process of learning and recognising that was given to him by God.

Q: When was the idea of a solo promotion firmed up? What is the biggest difference between Zhou Mi in the title hit <Rewind> and the images you portrayed in the past?
A: After a year and a half, almost 2 years of preparation, actually this dragged on for very long. Whilst we were preparing for my album I expressed to the company that I wanted to do something different, at the very least it should be something that I have never tried previously. Eventually when the general direction was set I thought that, indeed no one would have thought I’d be dancing. But because I am not a dancer myself, hence we looked to many American choreographers, eventually coming up with a dance like this that was refreshing.

Q: When you were first at the music programme, what kind of thoughts ran through your mind at that moment? What was your mood like?
A: Because I happened to be the host of the music programme at which I was a first for and it was a live broadcast, so usually before the start of the programme the PD would give us a rough guide of the voting results. At that time he told me, “ Looks like the winner for today will be Kyuhyun, he is not at the broadcast today so you have to quickly prepare to receive the award on behalf of him.” Do you know the word “award” was not a word I was familiar with in Korean, hence before we were giving out the awards I kept practicing and memorising this word, and was thinking of doing a great Ending. Yet in the end, when they announced the results, it was my name. At that time, i wondered “Is this a joke?” because being a Chinese who did solo activities in Korea, although previously there was Zhang Li Yin, but I was the first among guys, hence the way I felt was, it was already honourable for me to be doing activities and officially promoting on my own. Coming in first did not even occur to me. At that point, I was really proud that being a Chinese national, I could also win an award as a star in Korea.

Q: With regards to music, through your solo, did you complete a process of ‘finding yourself’? How would you describe yourself at the moment?
a: People who know me would know that I like singing ballads, hence when everyone knew I was going to have a solo album, it was automatically assumed that this would be a ballads album. Yet, I produced a R&B one. Hahahahaha. I hope that through this album, I can also see for myself the sides of myself that I didn’t know of previously, and at the same time let everyone see that Zhou Mi can also do dance numbers, bring out different perspective of me. Although it is still not the 100 marks performance that I wished for myself, I understood that dance numbers were actually still within my abilities. I should say it as, I’ve opened new opportunities for myself, and this is in fact really good.

Q: From the start right up till now, you have been emphasising that you are weak in dancing…
A: Do you know that when I was doing my audition, I was of the level where I could only just swing around to the beat and do a simple folk dance. However, the company subsequently took a year to train me up to the level I was at when I debuted. To me, this was entirely a miracle, especially when I saw the finalised solo MV of myself. It was like… this absolutely is the “World’s 2nd miracle”, I actually produced a dance number as my title hit - that’s why life is really breath-taking, you can never tell what might happen 5 years later or 10 years on from now. When I joined this company, I never thought that there’d be a day where I could do a solo dance number.

The confusions that everyone needs

Everyone will have dreams, before successfully achieving them one would keep working hard, for instance if you think of being a singer and hence work for it, when you have debuted you would ask, what is the next goal? Zhou Mi used 6 years, from SJM’s debut to his solo album today, with the album already available in the market, he is confused yet again “What should I try next? What do I want to do for the next album?”, his present schedule consists of promotional activities and music stages, Zhou Mi really loves them all, but at the same time worries for the work he should do next year. Yet, to him, these perplexities are an important necessity, because these confusions drive him to work hard at finding answers. People, actually really do need these sort of urgency.

Q: You have composed for SJM and EXO albums, which song is the work you are most proud of amongst all of these productions?
A: I would say there are none, right now in SM I have written lyrics for over 30 songs, but I am still a far cry from professionalism in comparison to seasoned lyricists, initially I wrote lyrics about love such as <Love Relay> and <Love Song> that were really sweet, and there were those written based on stories of my friends, when you write a song for “someone” the song would carry a different meaning. Just like <Love Relay> was mainly about 2 of my friends, one was overseas and one was in the country, it was their story that I wrote into a song. In my life, there is nothing apart from working, in opposition to an average person who would get the opportunity to fall in love and learn about life. There is a saying that if you do not date in University then your youth is considered to be eaten up by a dog, my youth was heartlessly eaten up by one, so right now I am looking for it.

Q: What was the percentage of your involvement for this albums?
A: I wrote all the lyrics and a part of the music composition.  Because back when I was in China and younger I used to listen to slow ballads, hence I am more comfortable when writing them, <Lovesick> was composed by me in only 15 minutes. The lyrics however took 2 hours, I am not sure if i am able to write a dance number, but I am pretty good with ballads.I cannot say I like all 6 of the Chinese songs, some of them were because they were remixed, especially when they were based on Korean lyrics as the basis, but there are some were I could really start from scratch, such as the collaboration with Victoria <Loving You> as well as <Without You> I am pretty happy with these 2 songs, feels like it is easier for everyone to accept?

Q: Are there any composers that you admire?
A: I know many seniors who are composers, such as Li Zhuo Xiong, he wrote a full album for Karen Mok, his lyrics have much deeper meaning. My quality experiences in life are still insufficient, it needs to settle and flourish, everyone is a mentor I can learn from. In fact for this album I invited Teacher Li to write me a song, but when we received the lyrics the company felt that the Chinese lyrics carried deep meaning, and since I was simultaneously producing two versions of the same album in China and in Korea the meanings should be the same, hence it was not suitable and not used. It was a waste really.

Overcoming loneliness through companionship of the Line

Talking about juniors, we cannot forget Zhou Mi’s popularity among them. His solo title hit features 2 of EXO’s popular members, Chanyeol and Tao in 2 versions of the MV. The charms of his juniors however leaves Zhou Mi at a loss, with a pressure so high that he feels awkward no matter what expressions he wear. In the end, because his expressions were too awkward, only 1 second was used from the 2 hours worth of filming. Jackson of GOT7 talked about how Zhou Mi was like the father of all the girls in the Line, an existence that was between uncle-like as well as brotherly… Being a brother, being someone who has been through these, Zhou Mi walked through all the times the younger stars like them are currently going through. Hence, even if the juniors needed a shoulder to lean on or are just lovingly playing a fool, he takes all of it in his stride. Friends, especially those in the Korea-China Line are to him, special heartwarming partners who can be relied on outside of home and in a foreign land. With companions and support, it is easier to fly against the wind.

Q: How is it like working with Victoria, Chanyeol and Tao? Any interesting stories to share?
A: When I first received the Demo for <Rewind>, I realised that there was a portion of Rap. I hesitated and though about whether I should give it a shot. However, previously I recorded a rapping portion in <Without You> that was rejected by the company, hahahahaha. The company made a good choice…. Rap needs a suitable voice and because this was in Mandarin, I gave it to Tao. He also helped e with <Love Tonight>. I gave the deciding power to the company for the rapping in the Korean version of the title hit. In the end, it was Chanyeol. His voice is entirely different from Tao, it is low, and the effect was really great. Subsequently, Victoria’s part was because we have been working together for quite a while, in fact this song was something like a present I wanted to give her, because in the past we did stages where we always sang songs of other singers and this time we have something to call our own. In order to make this song hold a different meaning, I wrote the lyrics in a plane and sent it to her immediately after I touched down, it was a song about a sweet love. This duet is also her first song, outside of her band.

Q: Being the older brother in ChinaLine, what type of an influence are you to the juniors? What have the younger ones before that made me felt really touched?
A: When I went first went to Korea I was only 20, pretty young, just like them now. But at that time, there weren’t many Chinese nationals who were in the industry, when I felt alone and helpless I didn’t know who to turn to. Come to think of it, for those who came over even younger than that must have felt even worse and confused, especially when they are unable to go home from here,so we are the family members of each other. 2 years ago, in China Line, I only knew Miss A Fei, Jia and also Victoria. But at that time, I was alone even more often. I ate alone, went to the mart alone, went to the movies alone, but with the Line I can choose to have people doing things with me and I was less lonely. With more juniors, it is all the more so, since there can be more gatherings. The juniors are really heartwarming, whenever we call them, they will come, such as Tasty’s Da Long and Xiao Long, as well as Jackson.

Q: Jackson even mentioned on a radio broadcast that you are an existence that is between uncle-like as well as brotherly.
A: Exactly! He even said I was like the father of the girls! hahahahaha! He is really kind hearted. Actually our promotional periods overlapped, both myself and GOT7. Jackson also had variety programmes, but no matter how late it was, for instance, if I asked to meet up to have supper, he would definitely appear. Eating and meeting up may be a small thing, but when you are in need and he appears without hesitation, this is the type of action that in itself makes you feel safe and protected.

Q: Then what is the one thing that the SJM members did that touched your heart?
A: They invited me to eat. Actually, everyone usually has activities together, there is no need to specially organise a time to invite me for a meal. But being away from home, the feeling of being remembered and constantly thought of really feels nice. I remember there was one year when Siwon was celebrating the New Year, he specifically called me and Henry to have a barbecue at his place with him. I am someone who treats a person nice if it goes both ways, once is enough for me to remember for my entire life.

Zhou Mi Interview Side Notes

In front of the camera

That day, Zhou Mi entered the studio following behind his manager, wrapped in a black feathery attire. His smile was clear, in contrast to the dim lighting, he had vitality like that of a University undergraduate when he greeted us. I asked if he already had his meal during the break and he pursed his lips,shaking his head. When I started ranting about getting him some food he quickly stopped me saying “It’s alright, my manager will get it for me right after!” In truth when there are Korean staff tagging along, the food that celebrities get definitely were not surprising, fast food like pizza or burgers and nothing less. This time it was indeed the same for Zhou Mi as well. In the end, he only took 2 mouthfuls. Only two mouthful. Asked when he was on a diet, he smiled and shook his head but did not elaborate further. We were worried that he would have no energy without food, but this person is a workaholic once he got into the mood. While the shoot took nearly 3 hours, with the lightings shining on him and the poses never-ending, I laughed as much as he did till the point that I felt my face go numb. Yet, he could still maintain a fully energised state,and even have extra energy to make fun of the assistant producer. He was so cooperative with us throughout, we should gift him a pretty little red flower.

During the interview

Coming from a hosting background, he is indeed someone who is quick-witted, has a clear mind and a fast speaker. Be it the interview or a casual chat, Zhou Mi presents a very sincere and confident image. Even official questions would be answered in an interest manner; questions that stirs up more feelings would have him going on and answering non-stop; questions that were heartwarming would have him describing in touching words. Things like making possible the impossible, rooting for himself even if it may not sound nice to everyone, are things that everyone would experience in life, and even if the way we tackle them are not the same, they are things that people relate with. When it comes to facing the endless criticisms of him, he chose to persist at continuing his path and is persevering even now. It is only a matter of whether everyone is able to do it as well like him. Subsequently, he wrote his wishes for the magazine, he was so focused and wrote so much, even drawing a huge smiley face. His heartfelt words were so obvious, and to be more serious about it, his handwriting is one of the better amongst artistes.

Zhou Mi ’s hand written wishes 

To: <Modern Music Field>

 The magazine that has been accompanying me for 10 years,

Hope that even more people will fall in love with this magazine.

Trans by @Vanet9 for @SunshineZhouMi

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