There is always something new and there is always something better. This is an old proverb and a tired one at that—it’s crawled out of the mouths of grandparents, teachers, coaches, talent scouts, and women on the wrong end of marital affairs. It’s a tacky way to describe our reality, preoccupied with the notion that the now is insufficient, that improvement is within reach so long as you do away with what’s in front of you.
But like always, there are exceptions to the rule, a few people who are able to comfortably reside in this ebb and flow, the truly talented who have answered a special calling and are using it to assure others that everything is fine, just as it is. It seems Tia Lee is one of these few, someone who is spearheading the global C-pop (Chinese Pop) scene and utilizing her influence to disrupt and implement needed change for women worldwide.
Born in New Taipei City, Taiwan, Tia Lee has long had her finger on the pulse of the future of music. In her early career, Tia was a member of the Taiwanese girl group Dream Girls, and starred in several movies and TV shows like The Perfect Girl (2017), One Headlight (2019), Jojo’s World (2017), and Miss Rose (2012). A lover of couture, she recently graced the carpets of London Fashion Week, attending Julien Macdonald, Richard Quinn, David Koma, and Moncler Genius shows.
In December of 2022, Tia released her most popular song “Goodbye Princess,” which set a C-pop music video record, as the fastest video to gain 100 million views. Not your average music video, the visuals for “Goodbye Princess” incorporate animation within a six-part story that explores the typical molds that women are socially inclined to fall into, encouraging them to be the creators of their own narrative.
Tia has also launched the #EmpowerHer campaign, a global movement that educates and disseminates women-centered charities. Since its launch in 2022, the campaign has donated $3.8 million Hong Kong dollars to charities worldwide.
As an ambassador for feminism and with a goal to positively impact the world through her music, Tia Lee spoke with FLAUNT about her passions and her creative identity.
How did you find your affinity for music?
Music gives us positive energy! I had previously participated in singing competitions and from there, developed my love for music. I truly love music, and I enjoy each and every moment with “sound to my ears.” Music allows me to truly express myself and gain new perspectives.
Can you describe your creative process–how do you write your lyrics, what is it like in the studio with you, and how do you stay creative?
Three years ago, I flew to Los Angeles and camped out for hours in the studio with my music producers every single day and night for an entire month. Even though we have different mother tongues, we communicated seamlessly and found inspiration from our “vibe-ing,” chemistry and interactions with sound and creating music. We were inspired and completed all the lyrics in the studio, and went with the flow of where the music and feelings took us. Through this process, I uncovered so many endless possibilities. I really cherish this memorable process. Each of our creations represents our inspiration, dedication, diligence, heart, and soul toward music.
How do fashion and music intersect for you?
Every piece of music communicates differently to each and every one of us. That is why we have to enjoy music holistically, from the melody styles, to the lyrical storylines and to visuals. Likewise, I take the same holistic approach with fashion. I learn from the best fashion stylists constantly, do my research diligently, have the courage to try new things and test the limits of fashion. Through this process, I enjoy both the “out of the box” ideas that I get from the fashion world, and also the lively interactions that I have with others on fashion which bring me so much inspiration.
What was the inspiration for “Goodbye Princess?” How did you create the world for it?
“Goodbye Princes” is an inspiration from my past. It summarizes how I grew and how I got through challenges over the years. I believe women should not be defined by how others perceive them. We all deserve to live our lives in full. We built a virtual world in the “GoodbyePrincess” music video, and have tactfully combined animation, music, reality and virtual elements into it. This music video is a masterpiece curated by my favorite team with famous animator Sunny Tang, international award-winning film composer Wan Pin Chu, top producers Alex Li and Thomas Li, and also up-and-coming digital animator Mandy MackenzieNg. I hope I can create and share more masterpieces that blend music and art like “Goodbye Princess.”
What inspired you to launch the #EmpowerHer campaign? How did you find and pick the charities that it supports?
The #EmpowerHer campaign is the materialization of my vision. It is always nice to have someone stepping up and giving you a helping hand when you are in need of motivation or just a positive push toward your dreams. By #EmpowerHer, we aim to create a positive vibe and energy for all women so we can all put aside biases and stand up tall and be confident. The charities we have chosen to work with in the first phase are all active advocates towards women empowerment. We also try to cover broader regions as women empowerment essentially needs to be encouraged on a global scale. We have given a lot of thoughts when shortlisting beneficiaries for the #EmpowerHer campaign. Basically, all the funds donated need to be put proactively into supporting and empowering women over different continents.
What does empowerment mean and look like to you? How does music empower you?
Gender equality builds on the fact that men and women should be given equal rights and opportunities in society. “Goodbye Princess” tells my true story, and more importantly, it calls for awareness and action to remove negative labels against women. We should all abandon the typical negative “princess” stereotypical labels and be able to live our lives to the fullest. Women empowerment is about encouraging women at large to choose whatever lives we want to live and thrive in them.
You have a large following and connect with your fans on social media–what do you think is the good side and bad side of social media?
Social media is important for me as it allows me to directly interact with my fans. We have all grown together and we energize each other. Yet sometimes it can become a platform for negativity when it is abused by haters. However, this is a good training ground for us to embrace others and turn negativity into drivers for positive energy and growth!
What have you been dreaming about lately? What are you manifesting for the future?
I have just finished the production of the music video from my latest song, which is very personal to me. The quality and scale of the production was truly a dream come true. I really hope I can bring forth more positivity, assistance, and support to all women around the world through sharing my experiences, wisdom, positive energy, and music!
Photographed by Kim Yeong Jun
Written by Franchesca Baratta
Styled by Nam Joo Hee
Visual Director: Sean K
Makeup: Yelin at Oui Oui Atelier
Hair: Kim Seung Won
Nails: Kim Suzy at HYPNOZY
Flaunt Film: Kang Hyung Rok
Set Design and Prop Stylist: Lee Na Kyung
Art Work: Hwang Yu Kyung at Nunko
Producer: Lee Kyung Kim at BL Creative House