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Jay Chou's protege tunes in

Lara Veronin stars in new Taiwanese drama series Alice In Wonder City, in which she plays the female lead, a budding singer, opposite heart-throb Aaron Yan (both above). (PHOTO: SINGTEL MIO TV)

Publication Date : 06-09-2012


American-Taiwanese singer-actress Lara Veronin does not mind being pegged to her superstar mentor Jay Chou.

Best known for her 2005 duet "Coral Sea" with Chou, she says with a little shrug: "In every biographical description of me, his name will always be included, and that is just something that I will have to live with."

"In fact, I am very grateful to him for that, so I'm all right with it," adds the bubbly singer, 24, who is signed to Chou's JVR Music record label.

"Many people would not have heard of me or my music, if it were not for him all those years ago."

The fresh-faced, sweet-voiced musician is coming into her own.

She has released a number of hit albums with pop-rock band Nan Quan Mama, also proteges of Chou's - the latest being "Difficult Kids", in 2008. She left the group in 2009.

In 2010, she released a solo album titled "Hello".

On the acting front, she stars in new Taiwanese drama series Alice In Wonder City, about the intersecting lives of four young people in Taipei.

The show airs on Jia Le Channel (mioTV Channel 88) on weekdays at 10.15pm.

Veronin plays the female lead of budding singer Lan Die Fei, opposite heart-throb Aaron Yan as an accomplished violinist.

In town to promote the drama, Veronin switches easily between English and Mandarin during this interview at Fullerton Hotel.

Her father is Russian-American and mother, Taiwanese.

On whether her acting has improved since her last TV stint - her debut as a dreamy film-maker in another romantic drama Engagement For Love (2006) - she says: "When I was doing my first drama, it wasn't even about handling the difficulties of remembering my lines.

"It was about learning the technicalities of filming, like knowing where the camera is placed.

"I would go into a scene, and run right past the camera, not realising that that was the camera I had to face.

"Now that I've had that experience, I at least know what to expect with filming, and can spend more time on my lines and getting the emotions right for this second drama."

Despite "enjoying" acting, she is quick to say that she is first and foremost a musician.

While not professionally trained in music, she has dabbled in playing the guitar since she was a child.

"My roots are still in music and one of the biggest things that even drew me to this script was that it is a show about music.

"I've learnt a lot more classical music from doing this show actually, which has been interesting," she says.

The bachelorette adds that doing the occasional acting gig helps her to write songs: "As a lyricist, I have to keep on looking for new experiences and acting helps me do that.

"I get to play characters that are nothing like me, so I get a new perspective on life and can put them into the songs. Otherwise, my songs will likely sound too similar to one another."

With a second solo album happily in the works, she is insistent on preserving her own sound - even if it means "defying" her boss Chou.

Her debut solo album, "Hello", released two years ago, was noted for departing from the usual, commercialised Mandopop.

Boasting a breezy, raw and folksy sound, it charted at No. 11 on Taiwan's G-Music Charts, which ranks the popularity of Chinese-language albums in terms of sales.

She says with a chuckle: "I'm much more into indie pop and folk rock, which I think translates into my music style.

"But you know, Jay's music is a lot more... blockbuster, so sometimes when I show him what I've written, he'll be like, 'Seriously? You like that?'

"But luckily, he still trusts me enough to let me release the type of music that I really enjoy. I'm lucky."

Alice In Wonder City airs on Jia Le Channel (mioTV Channel 88) on weekdays at 10:15pm.


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