Vinh Khuat - an overseas Vietnamese artist loving traditional instruments

Update: 09:44 | 30/12/2019
TGVN. Not being handsome or trendy, Vinh Khuat – a Vietnamese – German man is so simple, but his own music is great, especially those melodies are always imbued with Vietnamese influence…
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vinh khuat an overseas vietnamese artist loving traditional instruments
Vinh Khuat performed at 2019 Monsoon Music Festival.

Watching you play monochord, zither, flute,… in music videos “Too long”, “You couldn’t be more beautiful”, “The last Valse”,… many people wondered that when you learned Vietnamese musical instruments as you moved to Germany at the age of 1?

Actually, I knew traditional instruments 20 years ago. It was a coincidence to see Thu Ha, a lecturer at Military Arts and Culture University playing instruments in Germany. I really liked it so I asked her to teach me. Later, I learned from her during her performance tour in Germany and bought instruments to practice. When she returned home, I learned the instruction online, then played and mixed them into my music.

Comparing to Western instruments, where is the traditional musical instruments’ position to you?

I got used to guitar, piano, drum from the young age. When listening and seeing Vietnamese instruments, I found them very strange. I decided to mix those traditional tunes into my modern songs and felt excited.

Do foreign audiences probably notice that feature in your music?

I think people immediately recognize that new and different feature. Vietnamese tunes have punctuated intervals and vibrations that are completely separated from the Western musical notes. Listening to my music, everybody can feel the Vietnamese feature.

Having a strong personality and artistic feature, you are a member of an artists family, aren’t you?

My maternal grandfather is musician Nguyen Minh Tam who taught accordion and saxophone at the Vietnam National Academy of Music. My mother attended the Ha Noi University of Culture and had 10 years of working at a cultural house. My uncle is currently the Head of Winds and Percussions and my aunt is also a classical piano instructor at the National Academy of Music.

My mother recognized my artistic ability and allowed me to learn piano since I was 4 years old. When I grew up, I wanted to be a composer and versatile artist.

Your songs always have the Vietnamese version. Do you have any difficulties in performance?

I often compose songs in German and English, and then translate them into Vietnamese. At first, I used the Google Translation, then asked my mom to check the translation. I don’t have much trouble with Vietnamese because my family lives in Germany but speaks Vietnamese totally at home. This has become a rule since my childhood, and if I do not obey this rule, I would be “punished” by my mother immediately!

In Vietnam, the audiences only knew Vinh Khuat through some famous programs on television. How is your life and activity in Germany?

Perhaps, my life is the dream of many people because I own my life, do my favorite job and live by that profession. I know that there are people who wake up every morning and feel depressed as they are not doing their passionate work.

Life is not always easy, but I am lucky because most of the time, I feel happy.

I remember the first time I made money in my career when I was in school. At that time, the teacher told me to perform and I got 100 Euros. So happy!

In Germany, my main job at present is to compose freelance for companies, events, mostly commercials. My dream is to compose and perform independently.

vinh khuat an overseas vietnamese artist loving traditional instruments
Vinh Khuat brought a studio to the stage.

Playing instruments, singing, mixing music, Vinh Khuat plays all roles in a band and brings a “studio” to the stage. Are you tired of assuming many such roles?

It is really tiring because I have to use 100% of energy even when recording or standing on stage. To prepare for a performance, I often have to practice 200 – 400 times. Every practice time is an opportunity to discover an error, and the more I practice, the more error will be detected, which will help to produce a better music product later.

Since I was young, I was very naughty. I bring my personality to the stage and take advantage of it. However, I absolutely do not bring stress to the stage, because it will negatively affect my audience.

Your MVs on Youtube are very simple. Is this your own style? When do you intend to make professional and trendy albums or products?

Yes, the MVs so far are mainly made and posted to the Internet by me, my family members. I still have not thought of making an album now because I am in need of better quality products. In my opinion, making music is like building a house and I am just building those bricks, so that I can’t be in a hurry.

Top Trending is the destination of artists. But in my view, there are many artists who are following the trend of focusing on making videos and good effects but ignoring music quality. I myself want to focus on composing and making better music. If following the trend, my products are just similar to other artists’ ones.

What do you think about negative comments such as “you’re not handsome”, “this guy is crazy”, “who sold his soul for music”?

They are right! I am not handsome because I am a musician, not an actor or a model. Artists should also be “crazy” to make music. And “sold the soul” means putting all energy and soul into the product to make good ones.

I respect all the comments from the audiences. I am glad that most of them give compliments to my music.

Recently, when attending The Voice in Germany, Vinh Khuat impressed the coachs and audiences. Did the participation in competitions and winning of many international prizes have brought to you a number of opportunities?

The Voice gave me fans in Germany, while other competitions gave me the opportunity to participate in professional music albums and earn a living.

For example, when I won the 3rd prize at New Ware – an annual competition to find young faces representating contemporary pop music in 12 countries, I received a prize of 20,000 Euros and appreared on Latvian stamp. These are valuable awards that helped me invest in making music.

You covered gracely the song “Legend of Mother” by musician Trinh Cong Son. Are you also a Vietnamese music fan?

I am glad to be known by other artists who make friend with me on social media. I like Trinh Cong Son’s music because every sentence is like a painting. His style is very close to mine. I also like Tran Tien’s music because he always has unique characteristic and follow his own path. I also need to find my own way like that!

Thank you, Vinh!

Vinh Khuat’s real name is Khuat Duy Vinh who was born in 1990 in Ha Noi. He has been living in Germany and graduated from Hannover Academy of Music. He has won many awards in Germany such as the “Impressive Contestant”, “Young Talent Award” in the Golden Voice 2005, the 1st Prize of the “Made in Schaumburg 2008” competition,…

In 2011, he participated in an international competition in Austria with an Acapella group and also won the first prize. In 2012, he won two first prize by judges and audience votes, along with an award of media for the most favorite contestant at the Hannover Songcontes Horen 2012.

In 2012, he was the champion of the Boss Loop Station World Championship for 3 countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and then the forth prize at a music competition in Los Angeles (USA).

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Quang Chinh

(TGVN)