Q&A: Janice Vidal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 November, 2010, 12:00am

Canto-pop singer Janice Vidal went through what she says was the worst time of her life after her twin, Jill, was arrested on drug charges in Japan last year. Recalling that difficult period was an emotional thing, Vidal said, but she did not bemoan the difficulties: the 28-year-old said they had improved relations within her family.

Vidal, who is part Filipino, was a backing singer for Leon Lai Ming in 2001 when she was spotted by his producer Mark Lui Chun-tak. Four years later she released her debut album, Day & Night, which featured English renditions of some of Lai's hits. She has just released her seventh album, Love Diaries.

What love is Diaries talking about?

There's a song called Love in the Battlefield, which I was recording when the Hong Kong tourist bus crisis happened in the Philippines. I used that scenario as an inspiration. It speaks about the current world situation with so many natural disasters and tragedies in the news; it's easy to judge and point fingers. The song encourages us to try to see how a horrible situation can bring out the best in people. I love songs like this because we need more positive words.

I keep a journal everywhere I go, writing about things that speak to me. It is like you are talking to someone, reflecting and digesting what happens and learning from it.

Sometimes, things help you realise there is so much more to life and the world; it changes your whole perspective. It's as if you're born again. You become someone new and see things from a different perspective.

It's really refreshing. When you feel like you are doing something for a reason, it adds extra purpose to life.

That's why I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. My aim in life is to touch people's hearts and give them comfort through music. People should never underestimate the power of song. It can really heal you. I believe that people will see a different side of me through this album.

It's been five years since you released your first album. What do you think about your career so far?

I'm not the kind of person who is out there to just feed gossip or seek recognition. That's why it's tough. I have realised recently that I just have to be the best that I can be.

In an ideal world, I'd love to change certain things that the media communicate to young people. A lot of those things are violent, perverted and degrading. I want to do something about that through music and I'm discovering how I can help.

You were a Buddhist, but you've now converted to Christianity. What triggered that change?

It was my sister. [After the arrest] she encountered Jesus. When she came back, I saw a 180-degree change in her. It was a huge contrast and it touched me.

[Religion] is a touchy subject and I'm not trying to say what's right or wrong. For me, having a kind of faith or just being a loving and caring person is good.

It's not about which religion; it's more about what kind of person you want to be in this life.

What was on your mind when you learned that your sister was in trouble in Japan?

I felt like my world was falling apart. I was so worried because she was in Japan and I couldn't fly over to help her. I couldn't sleep at night. Just thinking about it made me want to cry. It was quite depressing.

Even remembering those feelings now is quite tough. I was very, very worried for her. I didn't know what was going to happen and whether she could come back. It was so bad. Some people have to go through these experiences. They really need to fall down in order to get back up; they need to break apart to rebuild.

But it was the darkest time of my life. I felt like a prisoner, all the curtains were closed because the paparazzi were outside.

I don't regret what happened because if it hadn't happened, I don't think Jill would be truly happy. Everything has worked out for the best. She's more than great - she's different, new and refreshed.

Do you worry about Jill's future?

I don't. I'm actually very optimistic about the future for her. We grew up in a very bad family environment. That's why it happened. What my sister went through was because of a lack of guidance, care, support and love. It compelled her to look for all those things in the wrong places. I don't want other children to go through that because it was really painful and so dark.

I'm not saying that I'm tough. But some people just can't handle it, especially in this day and age.

Has the incident had an impact on your family?

We never felt love in our family. My parents divorced when we were babies. My dad was there but he didn't talk to us, he was just there like a lump of wood. That crisis was a wake-up call. Our family has become closer.

We knew someone in our family was in real trouble, and we came together. Now there is a new bond. Plus, with my new faith, I see how relationships can be restored through prayer.

The local press often criticises your physique. Does it bother you?

It doesn't. Maybe in the first year, I was upset by what they wrote about my body. But after that I really didn't care because there's no point. You have to have confidence about yourself. You can think I'm fat, it doesn't matter; we're all different, everyone has imperfections. So why let it bother you?