Erdem Aslan performed as a comedian in his native Turkey, but after moving to Viet Nam in 2006, he found inspiration in traditional singing. His first album of Vietnamese songs, Aslan's Story, was released on November 5.
by Lan Dung
Inner Sanctum: What brought you to Viet Nam and why did you decide to stay here for such a long time?
I used to work as a comedian in the two years before leaving my job. I was in an accident and in the following several years, I could not do anything because my confidence and hope was locked away.
Because of the accident, I did not think that I could continue my arts career. When Turkish businessmen, who had worked in Viet Nam, asked me to go to the country for a translator position, I did some research on Viet Nam and accepted their proposal.
My health has become better during my time spent living here. I started to learn more about Vietnamese music and arts. Right now, I feel I want to stay in Viet Nam for a long, long time.
Inner Sanctum: What did you know about Viet Nam before coming here? How does that compare with what you have seen here?
Before their proposal, I did not know much about Viet Nam. My family members and friends did not support the idea of working in Viet Nam; however, I still decided to leave Turkey.
Viet Nam made me surprised because it was totally different from what I thought before. Somebody said that there was a war in Viet Nam but I saw a peaceful country with nothing to be scared of or worried about.
Inner Sanctum: You spent eight months studying Vietnamese at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Did you find it difficult to learn Vietnamese?
At first, I had a lot of difficulty learning Vietnamese. The language was very difficult, particularly the pronunciation. I thought I would never become fluent. Whenever catching a taxi, I could not communicate well with the driver. I was taken to the wrong places many times. That made me lose confidence.
Inner Sanctum: You worked as a comedian in Turkey but tried your hand in music. Why did you choose music and why do you make music for a young audience? Do you have any intention of going back to a comedy career in Viet Nam?
I had been interested in the arts since I was a child. Comedy was the first forms of the arts I tried. When starting my new life in Viet Nam, I wanted to try a different form of the arts and cater to young people.
Before releasing the album, I had performed in some programmes at universities and international schools. I also took part in TV shows produced by An Ninh TV (Security TV) and VTV6 channels and these gave me the confidence to bring out my first album.
Comedians all know how to sing and how to perform songs in front of the audience. I want to go back to comedy - my former field and real interest. At the moment, I plan to perform music and do stand-up on stage.
Inner Sanctum: How did you practise singing Vietnamese songs and what difficulties did you face?
I had practised all the songs in this album on my own before recording my voice and seeking advice from friends. Singer Pham Khanh Phuong helped me a lot to improve my vocal range. Then I would continue practicing my voice until my friends thought I was good.
However, I intend to study vocal technique professionally with specialised teachers. It may mean that my next songs will be much better (smile).
Inner Sanctum: What message do you want to send to Vietnamese and Turkish music lovers through this album? And what do you plan to do next?
I hope that the album will contribute cultural exchange between Viet Nam and Turkey. Vietnamese people can listen to a Turkish voice performing local songs and Vietnamese music can reach Turkish people.
I love both countries. Viet Nam is my second mother land and Aslan's Story was made to help the two nations understand more about each other.
Right now, I am preparing an album with 12 folk songs, including duets with Vietnamese singers. I will release a singles album for my younger fans. — VNS