The first time he took part in a singing contest in HCM City 15 years ago, Dam Vinh Hung didn't win a place. It was the first of many failures before he came fourth in the same competition years later, and quickly rose to become a glittering star known as The King of Viet Nam Music by the media. He talks with Cam Giang
Inner Sanctum: Your live show, ‘The Destiny', lured thousands of people to the National Convention Centre on July 28, despite heavy rain that night. How much time and energy did you spend preparing for the show and what difficulties did you encounter?
I practised my vocals for two weeks before the show, but it took me a month to memorise the lyrics for up to 30 songs. It took half a year in total to prepare for the show, from outfits to stage design.
The only difficulty was that I had to try and make it bigger and better than other shows I have put on over the past 15 years, like "Lover", "Love for a Thousand Years", and "Footstep back to the Central Provinces". I'd set the bar high with these shows, but for this one, I had to set it even higher.
Inner Sanctum: After 15 years working as a professional singer, where do you see yourself now – at the peak of your career, on the other side, or with your many plans and projects, is the best still yet to come?
I don't try to delude myself. I would be lying if I said I hadn't already reached the peak of my career, but I'm not satisfied. There are still tonnes of things I want to achieve.
Inner Sanctum: Is there a song you don't perform in front of your audiences but when you are alone?
No, because I can't hide what I like or what I hate.
Inner Sanctum: In your latest show, you dug a river on stage, sailed a boat, swung on a trapeze, and took a shower. Your shows vary a lot, from your outfits to your performance style and stage design. Are you trying to impress the audience or is this uniqueness part of your artistic character?
Some of the things that people say are unique about me I see as being normal. Every show requires investment and practice, and if you work hard enough, these thing become natural to you.
Also, I hate to say NO to challenges in my life.
Inner Sanctum: Your favourite saying?
"Simplify complicated things; do not complicate simple matters."
Inner Sanctum: Some people think there are similarities between you and Lady Gaga. What do you think?
To answer you immediately: we are both human beings, we are singers, and we are never threatened by public opinion. Apart from that, we have nothing in common.
Inner Sanctum: Why did you choose Ho Ngoc Ha, your rival on the show "The Voice"*, to tell the story of your life?
"Rivals" is how the media describes us in the TV show, but in real life we are close friends and respect each others like brother and sister.
I wanted to deliver a great live show, and how could I do that without inviting great names to perform? Thu Minh, another ‘rival', appeared in the show to perform a duet with me.
Inner Sanctum: "Gentle", "calm", "fragile" – that's how the media portrays you as a judge on "The Voice". "Help me! I'm very fragile," you told one contestant in front of thousands of viewers to get her on your team. It seems you are an emotional character. Which one – your brain or your heart – influences you more in the decisions you make in work and in life?
The image of Dam Vinh Hung you see on screen is created by our programme producers, who are very talented and confident.
I carefully calculated the image I wanted to portray to people. Duong Trieu Vu, a colleague of mine, helped me a lot. We agreed that I would play the role of a caring judge, who never says anything bad about the candidates and helps them to see their weaknesses without hurting them. I only give them sincere and constructive comments.
Inner Sanctum: If a candidate on "The Voice" imitated you in terms of appearance and style, what would you do?
They would never make it through to the next round because none of the judges would push their buttons to select them. — VNS
*The Voice is a multinational singing competition television series that started in the Netherlands. Viet Nam has adapted the format and it began airing in 2012.
Contestants are aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. The show's format features three stages of competition. The first is the blind audition, in which four coaches listen to contenders without seeing them, and turn their chairs to signify that they are interested in working with that artist.
Each coach will have his/her best contestant compete. From these four, one will be named "The Voice". Dam Vinh Hung, Ho Ngoc Ha, Thu Minh and Tran Lap are the four coaches on the show.