01在一個陽光明媚的下午，她漫步到我們的攝影棚 —— 有著雕像般的苗條身型，肌膚在化妝前已顯得完美無瑕，作為一位五歲小朋友的母親，她似乎絲毫沒有老過。
「這張專輯誕生在我人生其中一章的結尾和另一章的開端之間。」Gigi 過去十年一直保持自由身，到去年才決定與環球唱片簽約。這張專輯，標誌著 Gigi 以「說書人」這個新身份，開始了人生另一階段。
《Preludio》第一首歌《再見灰姑娘》在去年五月推出，概念源於 2001 年發行、Gigi 其中一首最具標誌性的歌曲《灰姑娘》，前者相比後者，用了一種更宏觀的角度來看待失戀。
01She waltzed into the studio for the photoshoot on a sunny afternoon – statuesque, slender and flawless even before makeup. As a mother of a five-year-old, she doesn’t seem to age.
Arriving with her were bags of takeaway sweet treats meant for everybody working in the studio.
She charmed everyone with her sweet demeanour that has perpetuated her public image as a girl next door for nearly three decades. With soft and enticing vocals, she is best known for her early mournful ballads such as “Cinderella”, “Cold-Shoulder” and “He Likes You”, to name a few. And now, on her latest album “Preludio” (prelude in English), she has a new story to tell.
“This album is born at the close of a chapter of my life and the beginning of another,” said the singer, who signed to Universal Music last year after a decade of working freelance.
Deriving from one of her most iconic songs “Cinderella” from 2001, Preludio’s first track “Goodbye, Cinderella”, first released last May, approaches heartbreak with a wider lens.
“This song is a farewell to the miserable Cinderella from the past,” she said half-jokingly. “Just like ‘Cinderella’, this is still a breakup song but from a different perspective that’s filled with hope.”
The album’s second hit – “Ping An Ye” (Christmas Eve in Chinese) – is a treacly portrayal of a loving family that comes with a movie video featuring whimsical illustrations.
Its final episode – “The House of 100 Stories” – is a romantic tale of a couple growing old together. Inspired by a famed picture book collection with the same title by Japanese artist Toshio Iwai, the song “traces back to the basics of love”, she noted.
“On this album, I look at relationships from the perspective of a storyteller, a new role that I’ve unwittingly become.”
已為人母五年，每晚陪女兒 Sofia 讀睡前故事已經成為了 Gigi 的例行公事 。
《100層樓的家》就是其中例子。 由第一層開始，這個系列故事講述了在每個樓層中生活的不同動物和海洋生物背後的故事。每個樓層所描繪的家庭樂，總令 Gigi 會心微笑。
02The things you drop on your way up the ladder
Five years into motherhood, Gigi has developed a daily routine of reading bedtime stories to her daughter Sofia.
“Reading to her is like a full-time job to me now,” said Gigi, beaming with joy. “It makes you see the world in a new way, as picture books deliver inspiring life lessons not only for children but also for adults.”
“The House of 100 Stories” collection is one example.
From ground floor up, the collection tells the stories behind a range of animals and marine life living on each floor. The ordinary family fun depicted in the collection summons a smile of recognition in Gigi.
“We never stop wanting more. So we climb higher and higher, only to find out what we truly need is right on the ground floor.”
Just as we sometimes lose track of what’s really important for a family when we are too busy building one.
“To me, the most valuable thing in a family is the sense of fulfilment between two people.”
Back to one, back to one
Back to one, back to one
因此，與家人相聚的時間對 Gigi 至關重要。一家三口無論任何事情都嘗試一起做 —— 由購物，到從機場接機，還有同一時間上床睡覺。
儘管她喜歡這種簡約的生活規律，Gigi 仍在忙碌的日程中騰出空間，以便在 Sofia 上學時培養新興趣，例如陶器和編織。
Simplicity is key to keeping a relationship strong, she added, as on her latest track “The House of 100 Stories”:
Back to one, back to one.
Money doesn't matter.
Back to one, back to one.
Being together is all that matters.
“Couples who are living in different cities may think they are making the best decisions, but, in fact, they’re more like walking on a balance beam,” she argued.
“It’s just a matter of time before they fall.”
Family time is therefore of utmost importance to Gigi. The family of three tries to do everything together – from going to the grocer, picking up her mum from the airport to going to bed the same time.
Nothing too fancy. She believes happiness can be found in the littlest things as long as they’re done together as a family.
As much as she loves the symmetry of a life like this, Gigi still makes space in her busy schedule to pick up new habits, such as pottery and knitting, when Sofia is at school.
“Family is so important to me, but it is not an excuse to stop me from doing what I like to do. I hope this would have a positive influence on Sofia too.”
Gigi 另一本喜愛的繪本，是美國作家 Shel Silverstein 作品《愛心樹》（The Giving Tree ，另譯《奉獻樹》）。她曾和女兒 Sofia 讀過這本書，而這本書的核心，正是「家長」這個身份。
這個故事，成為了 Gigi 為人母親的核心準則。她嘗試兼顧在家庭和工作中的多個角色，竭盡全力滿足女兒的需求，因為她堅信，絕不能淋熄 Sofia 的對事物的熱誠。
03Searching among branches for what only appears in the roots
Parenthood is at the heart of Gigi’s another favourite picture book she once read to Sofia – The Giving Tree by American writer Shel Silverstein.
With simplicity in mind, Silverstein ’s pen-and-ink illustrations tell a heart-wrenching story between a little boy and his “giving tree”.
The story begins on a high note: the boy climbing the tree, swinging from its branches, playing in its shadow and devouring its apples.
But as time goes by, his enthusiasm for the tree wanes. One day, the boy returns as a young man and asks the tree for money. Not having any to offer, the tree instead offers him its apples to sell.
“And the tree was happy,” the story goes.
Just like it is “happy” to give the boy its branches when he wants to build a house; and then trunk when the boy needs to build a boat for departure, until there’s nothing much left of it but a lonely stump.
“I wish I could give you something…but I have nothing left. I’m just an old stump. I’m sorry…” the stump whispers.
“I don’t need very much now,” the boy, now an old man, replies. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I’m very tired.”
“Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting,” says the stump which used to be a thriving tree. “Come boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” The boy sits down on it.
“And the tree was happy”. The end.
“The story is truly moving,” said Gigi. “When you enter a new stage of life, you acknowledge the joy of giving.”
This has become the core value in her parenting. Juggling multiple roles in her family and work, Gigi makes every effort to answer her daughter’s needs, as she believes “the flame of Sofia’s passion cannot be put out”.
“Once it’s been extinguished, it cannot be reignited. So you need to help her with whatever she wants to do, at all cost.”
孩子的熱誠不能被淋熄，於是 Gigi 積極引導 Sofia 發掘她的新興趣 —— 舞台劇。
創意需要空間才能蓬勃發展。 培養像 Sofia 這樣富有創意的孩子的關鍵，是知道何時放手。 因此，Gigi 鼓勵她獨立思考，而不是將自己的價值觀推到 Sofia 身上。
也許，這就是 Silverstein 試圖在作品中表達的內容 —— 即使是為了鼓勵男孩變得獨立，那棵「愛心樹」也許不應該奉獻得這麼徹底。
這正是繪本之所以令人著迷之處 —— 它不會有一個既定準則告訴你應該如何思考，它可以接受任何解釋，而沒有正確或錯誤的答案。童年的純真，是我們即使成年後也永遠不想失去的東西。
04The art of backing off
Just as how she guides Sofia through her newly-discovered interest – stage drama.
“She always come up with story ideas for drama, something straightforward and simple of course. For instance, a family having dinner together, the end,” she chuckled.
“To help her put on a play, I’d ask her to first assemble a cast from our family members, and ask her to check everyone’s schedule for their availabilities.”
“It needs a lot of patience,” she stressed. “But in the end, it's all worth it.”
Creativity needs space to flourish. The key to raising a creative kid like Sofia is to know when to back off. So instead of shoving her own values down Sofia’s throats, Gigi encourages her to think for herself.
“I let her make her own choices even when I know she may not be able to make the best decisions.”
“Sometime I don’t need to say no to her because reality would do that for me. There’s a difference between me rejecting her and her facing reality. She can only learn to compromise and be flexible when facing harsh reality check.”
Perhaps this is what Silverstein was trying to deliver in his book – the “giving tree” shouldn’t have been so giving in order to encourage independence in the boy. Perhaps not.
This is exactly why picture book is so gripping – there’s no dogma telling you what to think. It’s totally open to interpretation and there’s no right or wrong answer. Childhood innocence is a quality we never want to lose as adults.
Just like when asked what kind of animal would she like to be, Gigi paused and said: “a dolphin.”
“Because they look so peaceful and they make people happy.”
Storyteller : Gigi Leung
Presented by Storyteller and Universal Music Hong Kong
Director and chief editor : Alice Lee 慢靈魂
Text : Jennifer Chan
Art Direction & photography : Pazu Chan
Illustrations by Isaac Spellman 巫男
Assistant : Bao
Translator : Wong Yue Hang
Wardrobe : Fendi, ARTO