Tung Duong has impressed fans with his emotional vocals and unique performing style ever since his debut in the Morning Star-Rendezvous contest. The singer speaks to Thuy Hang about his decade-long career, culminating in his upcoming concert, "Mot Thap Ky Hoan Ca" (A Decade of Joyful Singing).
Inner Sanctum: What were your best and worst moments in the past decade?
Failure is a part of life. For me, I gained valuable experience from my failures, to become better.
After winning the Morning Star - Rendezvous contest, I went through a very low phase for three years, which I regard as my darkest period. At that time, I had not found a direction for my career and was, thus, very confused. I was torn apart by chaotic thoughts and isolated myself from people. Looking back, I am grateful for that time because it helped me to understand the value of being connected with other people.
Then, when I could clearly see the way ahead, I started getting other successes, including eight Devotion Music Awards. The awards were great encouragement for my creativity, which is the most important factor for every artist.
Music always brings me the best moments. Though I have performed the song Oi Que Toi (My Homeland) hundreds of times, whenever I raise my voice to sing it, I always get a thrilling feeling and a deep emotion for my beloved country overwhelms me.
During a trip to a northern mountainous area, where I saw the difficulties that the local children have to deal with, I burst into tears while singing for them.
For me, the tears I shed on the stage were tears of overwhelming emotion and happiness.
Inner Sanctum: You sing for everyone all the time. What is the favourite song that you sing for yourself?
There are two songs, Con Co (The Stork) and Doc Dao (The Unique Path), both by Luu Ha An, my associate for many years. He understands me better than anyone else. Composer An wrote those two songs especially for me. While The Stork is about my personality, The Unique Path is about my way of music, which is very liberal.
Inner Sanctum: A Decade of Joyful Singing celebrates a decade of your singing career. How will it be different from your previous concerts?
Actually, it is more than 10 years since I won the Morning Star - Rendezvous 2004 singing contest, which was a great starting point for my career. Since then, I have been lucky to experience several memorable moments, whether it be being honoured with the country's major music awards or being recognised by the public and the people in the industry.
The concert is evidence of my hard work towards launching new music products every year, in terms of albums or live shows.
At the upcoming show, my audience will get to enjoy most of my hits, together with some songs from my new albums. I want to invite my audience to accompany me on my unique musical journey at the concert. I also want to show myself as a mature person, not only in terms of age, but also in my mind.
People say I'm a 'weirdo', but in my own words, it is my extreme artistic personality that exists in my heart and my vanity. However, now I know how to control that personality, and avoiding exposing it too much.
Inner Sanctum: Diva Thanh Lam and young singer/songwriter Le Cat Trong Ly will be the guest artists at your show. While Lam also has an enthusiastic performing style such as yours, Ly is very different. Her style is naive and vulnerable. How can you match with such different styles?
Both Lam and Ly have shared the stage with me in some of my previous shows. We are perfect matches on the stage.
People think it is easy to be a singing duo, but in fact, it's not easy to find the perfect partner who knows exactly when they should sing in parts, when they should accompany you or when they should lower their voice to let you shine.
Like me, Ly also shows herself to be an extremely artistic person. I highly appreciate her outstanding talent, even though she is a lot younger to me. I can learn much from her.
Inner Sanctum: What is your motto?
It is "never be complacent with myself". When you live within the halo of reputation, if you are too easy with yourself, you can easily fall into the trap of temptation. It can be said I'm quite serious with myself.
Inner Sanctum: Do you feel any pressure of bearing the title of "divo"?
I don't delude myself or have illusions of any title. For me, the love and recognition of my audience are the most important factors.
The only pressure I feel is of offering my audience something new whenever I am on the stage.
In future, I will enhance my collaboration with foreign artists. Following the footsteps of older-generation artists such as Vietnamese-French musician/producer Nguyen Le and late composer Nguyen Thien Dao, I will continue to pursue my dream of presenting Vietnamese culture to the world through my music, although I am aware this is quite a challenge.
Inner Sanctum: After the concert A Decade of Joyful Singing, what is your next musical project?
I will continue to record for the Re Cay (The Tree Roots) album, for which I have been co-operating with HCM City-based female songwriter Sa Huynh in production. Half of the songs in the album will be recorded and completed in Europe, so it will take time.
I hope the new album will be welcomed as warmly as my previous CDs Li Ti (Tiny) and The Unique Path were, of which I am very proud of. I've always devoted all my mind, time, labour and finances to present to the audience high-quality musical products.
Inner Sanctum: You have more than once made equivocal mention about the woman in your life. Do you intend to raise your relationship to a new level, such as marriage?
Like many other straight men, I long for a happy family with our own children. However, we will not rush into it. We will just let it happen as it should. — VNS