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Dressed in a casual white tee and black jeans, when I met MINH he gleefully opened up about the development that was taking place on his musical path.

MINH, an exceptional 21-year-old vocalist and composer, is just beginning his journey to win over not only Vietnamese fans, but also global audiences. In just the past year or so, MINH and his five new singles have become a staple on streaming sites, generating hundreds of thousands of plays and positive reviews from listeners.

A restorative musical journey

As a rather introverted person who prefers to keep his thoughts reserved, MINH sees music as the ultimate medium to speak his mind.

Casual listeners and die-hard fans know MINH’s music overflows with emotions and contemplation about life. What few people do know is that he began experimenting with music when he was just 13. With a keyboard in his bedroom, he started recording himself singing on the phone and produced his first compositions. For the young artist, this creative process was a form of meditation that helped him cope with troubling thoughts.

Beneath the seemingly pessimistic overtones, a radical healing process is taking root: "Music offers me an escape from my negative thoughts," he shares.

In MINH's music, we catch glimpses of loneliness, internal conflicts, and uncertainty — emotions that everyone has more or less experienced. And it’s only when we dare to confront those realities that we can find a way out. In some way, MINH's music lends its listeners the courage to face their demons: “I hope that when people listen to my songs, they won’t feel lonely anymore, because they know that there is someone out there who understands their story.”

In 'Fake Happy,' MINH’s professional debut song, the singer touches on the pressure of modern life. This sentiment is echoed by the line “Are you happy?" which he repeats throughout the song as a call for people to be more honest with themselves instead of pursuing artificial fulfillment. Meanwhile, in 'I've Got Us,' the singer’s confiding words work as an antidote. The lyrics allude to the power of love, protection and loyalty — an assurance that as long as we’ve got each other, it will all work out in the end.

Fake Happy’s music video is a milestone for MINH’s professional music career.

A year of growth

Having witnessed MINH’s musical career from the beginning, back when his YouTube channel only had lyric videos, I have to commend him for daring to dream and take action to make those dreams come true. Taking on 2021 headfirst, MINH feels more confident, optimistic and self-assured. This is naturally reflected by the more uplifting sound in his current music.

During 2020, MINH not only released two music videos ('Fake Happy' and 'I've Got Us') that garnered hundreds of thousands of views on streaming sites, but he was also working zealously on his 2021 projects, which he hoped would pave the way for his prospective debut album.

Opening up about his upcoming album, MINH revealed that it would feature roughly 10 tracks, which he composed and sang on. The lineup will be carefully selected from more than 100 compositions. Similar to his past releases, the album will revolve around contemporary themes and messages — a subject that MINH has pulled off quite well — but this time in a more lighthearted and playful manner: "My debut has to be an authentic presentation of who I am. I shouldn’t have to use my music to prove anything."

MINH and his music grow together. As such, it is the most accurate representation of his personal growth throughout his life stages.

As a rather spontaneous soul, MINH is always eager to surprise his audience. This upcoming album is no exception, as the artist is cooking up a storm with a secret ingredient. "They will probably be very shocked," he said wittily. It’s all very much in line with MINH’s recent concert in Hanoi, where fans showing up for a casual and calming night were treated to a fast-tempo and enthralling musical experience.

For his next album, MINH remains faithful to his “no-recipe recipe” for making music. As each song tells a different story, MINH goes the extra mile to create a melody, lyric and message that complement the respective narrative. "I can write songs pretty quickly. Most of them are done within an hour or two. And when I finish writing, I don’t want to edit anything to ensure the originality of the work," he said. The team that the MINH works with luckily understands this quirk and allows him to freely follow his artistic calling.

A bilingual Trịnh Công Sơn cover by MINH and Thịnh Suy in a collaboration.

MINH is quite fortunate in that he has been well-received by the audience since the beginning of his career. With his dreamy voice and clean-cut looks, the artist has attracted more than 20,000 subscribers and 43,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. MINH has also made numerous appearances at different events, which include performances at Nguyen Hue street’s new year countdown for two consecutive years.

Global ambition

Having grown up listening to English-speaking artists, MINH can comfortably use the language to compose songs and communicate with foreign colleagues. Thus, one can easily spot the presence of global influences in his music. MINH also expressed his dream of becoming one of the first Gen Z artists to bring Vietnamese music to world audiences. While it might sound a little ambitious, it’s not at all far-fetched, as MINH is working relentlessly to realize his full potential.

One of MINH’s current aspirations is to collaborate with singers and musicians around the world. The young artist hopes to become a versatile figure who can actively engage with audiences, much in the way that Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes or Adele did to captivate millions of their fans: "My team and I have been thinking of organizing more live shows. Through these performances, we can see the audience’s response which helps us better understand their experience. Knowing what types of songs are more suitable for live performances, I can construct my music accordingly.”

Mỹ Anh, Tuimi, Han Sara and others have supported MINH on his journey. Working together as unique individuals, they grow tremendously as artists who are ready to forge new musical paths.

MINH and Tuimi in the music video for 'What is love?'

The positive response that MINH is receiving is a sign that Vietnamese audiences are becoming more receptive to unorthodox artists, and that their musical tastes are evolving to be more selective. When I asked MINH about his future plans, I was surprised by his bold answer: “I want to change the world with my own music.” And yet, it would not be too far of a stretch. MINH, with his empathetic outlook and soul-healing music, has already pulled the heartstrings of many Vietnamese fans. It is time that music lovers everywhere get a taste.

[Photo courtesy of MINH.]

Quãng 8, which means "octave" in Vietnamese, is a series of articles on Vietnam's new generation of unique music personalities. Know an interesting musician and want to introduce them to our readers? Send us an email via contribute@urbanisthanoi.com with your ideas.

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