New album puts jazz in key position

December 05, 2018 - 09:00

Hồ Trung Dũng has released a new album entitled Saigon Feel co-produced with Võ Thiện Thanh. It took about six years to complete and has proven to be a hit in the Vietnamese music scene.

Hồ Trung Dũng
Viet Nam News

Hồ Trung Dũng has released a new album entitled Saigon Feel co-produced with Võ Thiện Thanh. It took about six years to complete and has proven to be a hit in the Vietnamese music scene.

Saigon Feel is also a milestone in Dũng’s nine-year career.

Dũng speaks about his new album and his personal point of view about music.

Why did you want to make a CD in the digital era?

Many singers are concerned about this. Everybody says that Vietnamese people like music. But I see that Vietnamese only like listening to music free of charge. Is it right to say Vietnamese people like music?

It seems most people don’t pay for music anymore. This hits the artists directly. Everybody asks why artists don’t make new albums or perform live shows, but they don’t ask where the artists can find the money to do those things.

International artists earn money from CDs and ticket sales for live shows. They can just stay in their studios and record albums, and survive just by doing that. As a result, they don’t depend on anybody or any sponsorship.

On the contrary in Việt Nam, it is not like this. Artists have to earn money from somewhere and then use that money to invest in new projects. If they don’t want to lose money they have to depend on other things and lose their ambitions to make music. It is an unsolvable issue that has dragged on the Vietnamese music scene.

I think that ideas and romance are necessary at the moment.

You are known already as a pop singer, but Saigon Feel is jazz fusion. Does this make audiences think you are confused about musical genres?

I’m getting old enough to not care too much about what people think. I know what I want to do and what I like. I don’t want to be compared with others. I want to know my value and I want to do the best thing that I can. Jazz is a beautiful musical genre and it is close to people, so it is not difficult to enjoy.

I have had a passion for jazz music for a long time. Sixteen years ago, I studied in Germany where I played in a jazz band. When I become a singer I always wanted to make a jazz album. And now I’ve done it.

Do you prefer jazz or pop?

It’s about 50:50. The two genres do not conflict. If the audience is sensitive they will recognise that I always improvise jazz in my pop songs.

Saigon Feel is not original jazz. It also combines r&b, swing, pop and hip-hop. I don’t want the genre to impact the audience’s enjoyment. I decided to add jazz gradually to my music. I hope this will bring jazz closer to the audience so when I sing original jazz they will not be shocked.

Thanh and I discussed a lot about making an album that combines the two.


Some people say you’re boring because you have not been involved in any scandals. What do you think?

I was once asked by a reporter to give him something that shocked him. He wanted to write a catchy headline for his newspaper. Actually, everybody has something inside that can shock, but I don’t want to do that because it’s not in my nature. I already have fans and that’s not due to celebrity exposes.

To an artist, one of the most important things is freedom. I’m an artist when I’m free. When I can’t do what I like and have to pander to people I will no longer be an artist.


Do you feel alone in showbiz?

Sometimes, I question if I am a showbiz outsider or if I contrast with others. I watch interviews with artists who I admire and I recognise that I’m not the only one. Many international artists love their work but it is not absolutely necessary to love the world around their work.

This year, many things have happened in my life. This has forced me to slow down and take stock. It also affects my writing and singing. Each day is a process to work and look at myself.

Music is not only my career but helps the audience to understand more about me. Music is my fate. I cannot imagine who I’d be without music. — VNS