Soul sister drops unlikely debut album
Runner-up of the Voice Viet Nam Dinh Huong talks to Khac Thi
about her debut album and her unique style of performance that set pulses racing across the country.
Born in 1987, Dinh Huong is a rising star in Viet Nam's music scene. As a young and beautiful singer with a unique style on stage, she has won a loyal fanbase through her colourful performances on The Voice Viet Nam. Even though she did not win first place on the TV singing contest, she has still been tipped for a bright future in the industry.
Huong has just released her debut album Soul, on which she has collaborated with American producer, musician and hit-maker Richard Garcia.
Inner Sanctum: Let's talk first about your debut album, Soul, a name with many implications.
Aside from its literal meaning, soul is also the kind of music that I have been passionately pursuing all my life. To me, soul is the style with which I will draw my own musical portrait.
Inner Sanctum: What can we expect from your new album?
The album mixes soul with pop, funk and R&B to produce strange but memorable songs. So far people know me as young, lively and burning to succeed. Soul will reveal another to me. I think it is a mature, profound and often sentimental piece of work.
Inner Sanctum: There are quite a few English songs on the album. What is your reason for this and do you think you are taking a risk?
I have always believed that there are no boundaries or linguistic barriers in music. Whether the musician sings English or Vietnamese songs, it is the music and the melody that matters most. It is just like classical music composers using different instruments that, without words, conveyed their message.
If there is a risk, it is one I enjoy, because risk always comes with elements of challenge and discovery. I will never limit my singing voice.
Inner Sanctum: On this album you have collaborated with musician and songwriter Richard Garcia, the co-writer of the hit song The Boys by Korean girl band SNSD. What did you learn from working with him?
Producing a talent: Richard Garcia talks about working with Dinh Huong on her debut album:
"I was introduced to Dinh Huong by a friend of mine named Long. He is a songwriter I work with here in Viet Nam and when I hear her voice, I thought she has amazing vocals and when we talk about her project, she has a different style to a lot of the pop musicians who I've been working on, so I wanted to be part of something different, new sound and help her make it sound more professional with better quality. Long has done very great job of overseeing a lot of stuff. I'm kinda stepped in with helping him to oversee, make comments and try to make sure the technique for recording was good and help her with her pronunciation, her vocal was very clear for English songs and I'm looking forward to hearing the final mixes of everything."
I'm a singer, so I only ever think about music, music and music. I need other members in my producing team to help me achieve my goals. Richard Garcia is an experienced musician working in the international music industry and I have learnt a lot from him. With his help I have aimed to create an album that is international standard.
Inner Sanctum: Does this co-operation offer you any opportunities in other markets outside of Viet Nam?
At present, I am still learning and improving. Currently I have no other plans with Richard, except for broadcasting our music on iTunes and sending my album to some music producers worldwide for their feedback.
However, I never stop dreaming about carrying my singing voice beyond Viet Nam's borders. It would be a miracle, but I have belief in my own ability.
Inner Sanctum: Many will be drawn by your change in style and musical direction, while some will see it as a cheap way to attract a larger audience. Have you stayed true to yourself?
I might be modest in life but I'm very demanding in my music. People who truly consider music to be their life would never cheapen themselves for more popularity or fame, and I am no exception. I have my own passion and vision and I have always stayed true to that.
Inner Sanctum: Whenever you appear on stage, you are said to be "crazy" in your costumes and dancing. What inspires you when you perform? Do you aim to be particularly distinctive?
If I could tell you the reasoning behind everything I do on stage, I would not be a singer. I always allow myself to freely channel the music while I'm performing. This might account for my so-called "craziness". I just hope audiences enjoy it!
Inner Sanctum: To an artist, often the more famous they become, the lonelier they feel. Are you afraid of this? Do you think you can survive the pressure of the showbiz craze?
I have been exposed to publicity at a relatively young age, but I have never thought about losing myself in a spiral of fame. And loneliness is something I have grown up with and consider an indispensable part of life. If you are determined to follow your own creative vision, it can sometimes be a lonely process. But life is long and I don't know what is waiting for me ahead, so I just try to live my life doing something I am passionate about and can help me grow.
Inner Sanctum: What is the next step in your musical career?
I want to analyse the response from experts and listeners to Soul. In the future I want to keep on producing music and I want people to enjoy it. Along with the kind of music I have been pursuing, I'm planning to record some old songs. I want to study and sing pure Vietnamese songs to challenge myself further. — VNS