Lay Zhang Talks About Music, EXO Brotherhood, His Own Label, And More


Lay Zhang is probably one of the most driven and phenomenally gifted artists of our time – having spent over a decade developing his indescribable career as a global superstar in every creative dimension within his grasp. In order to find himself fully engaged in this renowned space, a maze-like path led Lay to assume some of the most respected artistic titles possible, including rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, director, dancer and actor – all before celebrating its 30th anniversary earlier this year.

Due to these relentless achievements, the singer has been featured in the annual Forbes China Celebrity 100 multiple times, rising from the top 20 to the eventual and major impact of the top 5 last year. Lay’s dynamism really comes as no surprise to many, having launched his shrewd career through K-pop juggernaut label SM Entertainment in renowned band EXO. Prior to EXO, the label introduced names that ultimately influenced Western media’s eventual reception of K-pop (Girls Generation, SHINee, Super Junior, TVXQ!), with EXO eventually taking over as a new talent collection. revolutionaries.

EXO (whom Lay still actively adores and contributes to) has spent his unified career amassing millions in album sales, soaring to the top spots on the world’s most notable charts, and expanding his unique impression through technical . Since his debut with EXO, Lay launched his own label Chromosome Entertainment Group, a brand new venture with universal support and anticipation, just over a year after his conception. Now as a business owner in this changing music landscape, Lay has nailed the creative freedom that only some of the best artists in the world are able to achieve with universal recognition that reinforces the idea of ​​staying true. to oneself.

Just two months ago, after walking a wide field with unstoppable potential at his fingertips, Lay recently took the opportunity to drop a love letter to his fans titled “Bee With You.” As expected, the song shows consistency in raw ability – adding to her discography of illustrious beats and diverse interests – including the hit solo track “Honey” which garnered an unfathomable 22 million streams, and features on tracks like “Let’s Shut Up & Dance”. ” which have accumulated more than 35 million streams to date.

With Lay’s musical ability continuing to vindicate his admirable reputation around the world, we were delighted to speak to the multifaceted talent about his vision for the past, present and future of his own craft.

Photo: Zhang Yixing Studio

You are such an esteemed and respected artist that you have truly enjoyed immeasurable success in your career, through your solo music as well as your work with EXO! Would you say getting to this place helped you achieve (or enjoy) more freedom of artistic expression?

To set down: It’s different. You have to learn to blend your energy and vibe with everyone and make sure you tell a story and sound together. When you’re on your own, you can do whatever you want, which can be great, but sometimes having all that freedom can be confusing. You do not know where to start. Being in a group and being solo helped me appreciate the different aspects of artistic expression.

Speaking of which, you’ve managed to create your own company Chromosome Entertainment Group, and it’s an incredible achievement! What were some of your goals that led to the creation of Chromosome?

To set down: I wanted to pass on the knowledge that I have acquired working in the industry during all these years. I also want the world to know that there are so many up-and-coming talents in China who need to be heard. Finding different ways to share Chinese culture is important to me and having a business is just another way.

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Now that you have completed your first year as a company with Chromosome Entertainment Group, what has been most important to you?

To set down: It’s hard [laughs] It’s really super. There’s so much work and decisions behind the scenes that most people don’t realize until they see a band or artist debut. It makes me appreciate my team even more now. The key thing I learned is communication. You need to communicate with everyone and give everyone a chance to share their ideas. You never know who has the next big idea.

You recently released your song “Bee With You” and it was such a great tribute to your huge fanbase. How excited were you to release this track and how personal did it feel to release it to the world?

To set down: I love the song. It was all great sonically and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with my fans. Every day I wake up and work hard for them. I’m happy to be able to do that.

You’ve also amassed over 70 million followers on your social media platforms, which have grown tremendously since you started! How has social media and this connection with fans impacted your craft over the years?

To set down: I am amazed. There is a great responsibility with so many people watching you. It reminds me to work hard and be the best person possible. I hope people can be inspired by how far I’ve come and the decisions I make and will make.

Fans were also excited to see your contributions to EXO this year with the mini album. Don’t fight the feeling! What was it like getting back into the band’s collaborative process?

To set down: Very important! I LOVE MY BROS, and I’m always there when they need me. It’s amazing to work with all my brothers again. I just wish we could do it in person, but the pandemic has made it more complicated.

You’ve played a vital role in the expansion of K-pop and C-pop in your career, and now with K-pop in particular, we’re seeing an increase in the number of rookie groups debuting! What do you think is the biggest difference between your debut with EXO and the bands you notice today?

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To set down: The beginnings are really difficult. It’s a lot of hard work. I think bands today seem to be positioned to be more global. They speak several languages ​​fluently and experiment with different sounds and styles.

Now that you’ve been able to come back into all the different styles and engagements through music and business, how have you managed to find that imperative creative balance?

To set down: When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s exciting and almost relaxing at times to switch my brain between completely different roles and projects. I am constantly learning new things.

I know your love for your fans is so important to you, and I know you have fans all over the world who are hoping to see you perform live! Do you have any hopes or potential plans for an in-person or virtual gig?

To set down: It really depends on these strains of coronavirus and their ability to be contained. My goal is to play live as soon as possible. I’m patiently waiting, but it’s important people are safe first.

Absoutely! Finally, can you tease an upcoming project that you’re excited about or that fans can look forward to?

To set down: I have something new [unannounced] Upcoming TV shows and movies. And we’ll see about the music.

Lay’s song “Bee With You” can stream above and follow him on social media like Twitter and instagram for more updates on all the singer’s future releases!

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  • Senior Writer for PopWrapped, with a fondness for K-pop, horror genre, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV, comics and anime.

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