Coco Lee - Nov 2000

COCO LEE is by no means a novelty act. She is definitely one of those singers that have the 'Pazaz' to make it in the world of music that she so loves. Since her1994 debut, Coco has released twelve albums; eight of those released through Sony Music. The 23-year-old songstress is now enjoying international success with the release of her newest album 'Just No Other Way'. I was lucky enough to catch up with the fabulous Coco to check out what she's up to and when she plans to come back to Australia?

Q: I know that you have a very musical family, but how did you first find out that you wanted to be a singer?

Coco: The first time I think I would have been 16 or 17. My friends and I went down to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and we found a karaoke booth down there. My friend took that tape and started playing it in her father's restaurant and she told me that customers were going up to her asking to buy my tape. That was the first time I figured, 'Hey, I can do this for a living'.

Q: What or who are your inspirations?

Coco: inspirations...Well I can tell you my idols are Whitney Houston and George Michael. I also think my two sisters, because they were the ones that started singing before me. They entered singing competitions and I would be their cheer squad.

Q: In August 1998, you performed in concert to more than 30,000 fans. How did you find that? The atmosphere must have been electrifying...

Coco: I was thrilled! I remember just before the concert started, I was saying 'What if no one shows up? That would be really bad!' It was a really elaborate concert with fireworks and all, and I came up on stage and I saw a swarm of people. I was shocked! I was so nervous and my voice started trembling, but I got over that and we had a blast.

Q: You supplied the voice for the lead character in the Mandarin version of 'Mulan' and you sung the theme song as well. How did you get involved in the Disney animation?

Coco: I thought it was kind of strange that they would want me for 'Mulan' because I didn't really look Asian. Mulan is a very traditional Chinese story, like a legend, and the reason why they chose me is because they wanted someone that the kids could relate to, someone who has a good image.

Q: What's your favourite song on your latest album 'Just No Other Way'?

Coco: It would have to be 'Just No Other Way' which is the title track to the album. It's just so romantic. It has a lot of personality. It talks about a girl being straight forward and knowing what she wants, and I feel like I'm that type of person.

Q: What makes you different to the thousand other solo artists out there?

Coco: It's the obvious...I'm the only Asian! We have Vanessa Mai, but really when you look at the pop scene or R&B singers there are none!

Q: What has been your most memorable moment so far in your career?

Coco: It actually happened last month. I was in Beijing for the MTV Music Awards, Alanis Morisette and Aqua were there, and I won the Best International Female Award for the Year 2000. I am the first Asian to ever win that award, and it is such an honour from MTV Music. When I was on stage I didn't know what to say. I had the biggest smile on my face, but I wanted to cry because I had been waiting for that so long.

Q: What do you personally be in a studio recording or to be performing live?

Coco: I love both. It's so hard to choose because when I'm in the studio I like to control. My sisters call me a control freak, but it's my music, it's my stuff that represents me, so that's why it's got to be perfect. I enjoy creating music but when I'm up on stage that's something else because I never sing exactly like the CD and I love putting on a dynamic performance, one that people will remember for a long time.

Q: So what's next for you? Will you be touring?

Coco: I'm releasing my Chinese album and I'm also going to do a concert to go with that in mid September in Asia, so it's going to be a crazy year for me.

- Olivia Belvedere


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