Like most Asian kids, thuy followed her parents wishes of becoming a doctor. But now, she’s making waves in the R&B scene with her moving vocals.
Those what ifs in life are arguably the biggest mysteries you’ll ever counter on your journey. Those moments at the crossroads have the potential to change your life, leading to nerve-wracking decisions. It can also compel you to wonder what would happen if you took the other path. As they say, you miss every shot you don’t take. Vietnamese-American R&B musician thuy also went through those life-changing crossroads. Growing up, thuy (pronounced twee), loved music, but also wanted to follow the dream of her parents for her to become a doctor. In fact, for a time, she even worked in optometry.
But one fateful day, she decided to go with her boyfriend to a recording studio and her dreams of becoming a full-time musician were born. Thuy probably isn’t regretting her decision considering how her career is at its highest yet and she’s regarded by some to be one of the next R&B stars to watch out for. NYLON Manila got the chance to chat with the musician as she opened up about her life, her music, and what she has to say to young Asian kids.
LIFE WITH MUSIC
Growing up, music was always part of thuy’s life. “I’ve always known that I wanted to become a musician! I don’t even remember when exactly I started singing, but around eight years old, I knew I could do it. I just didn’t know how I was going to accomplish it yet.” Even when it comes to her Vietnamese family, music has been a constant in their lives. “We have always had a love for music and singing. Karaoke is a part of my parents’ life and entertainment and I always found myself singing at family parties. I think that this part of my culture influenced me early on and birthed my love for performing.”
As a 90s kid, the Bay Area raised singer looked to pop queens like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera as inspirations. But she also had no one who looked like her growing up to look up to. Aside from that, she also had expectations from her parents to meet. A self-described bubbly girl, thuy was shy at school and that type of kid who kept her head down in the books to get the good grades. Basically, she was like the stereotypical Asian kid.
And furthering that stereotype, thuy’s parents saw her entering the field of medicine. “When I was a little girl, my parents used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would quickly answer “doctor” and my parents would sing their praises. Throughout my life, I knew I wanted to touch lives and medicine was a field I knew I could help people and make a difference.”
ASIAN KID, ASIAN PARENTS’ DREAMS
After she graduated college, she took on various jobs in the medical field, from dental, dermatology, and then optometry. Though she didn’t hate working in medicine per se, it also wasn’t what she envisioned for herself. “I really enjoyed the medical field, but I knew I wasn’t fulfilling my true passion which was music.” While she was working in the medical field, thuy also juggled her then fledgling music career. After she would clock out of work, she would head to the studio. “At the time, I felt like I was putting half my effort into both. I just knew that if I put 100% of myself into music, it would eventually work out,” she shares.
But things drastically changed for thuy when she accompanied her boyfriend to a recording studio that helped breathe new life into her musical ambitions. She decided to quit her job, pack her bags, and move to Los Angeles full-time to pursue her career. “The year I quit my optometry job to move to LA was also the year that I decided to take my music career seriously and consistently release music. Putting in my two weeks was scary, but in hindsight, it was the best decision I ever made.”
If talent was what people were looking for in thuy, she clearly had it. In 2015, she dropped her single called Hands On Me that made waves in the local R&B scene. The track even won thuy a competition at a local radio station. thuy is known for her soulful R&B with a smooth voice that can lull you into a euphoric state. Her striking voice, modern meets nostalgic R&B sounds, dreamlike soundscapes, and killer sense of style have helped become a rising favorite among many fans, which includes Khloe Kardashian.
“I like to make music with a lot of ear worm melodies. I want to make people feel good when they listen to my music. My music is authentic, fun, and healing,” shares thuy with regards to her musical style. Though while she often releases music in the realm of R&B, thuy considers her style varied. She likes to mix and match here and there because, as she puts it, she hates being in a box. “I feel like it has definitely been a journey. My musical style is constantly evolving and I just love music so much that I don’t want to ever box myself in. I don’t think I’ll ever settle on any music style.”
A BREAKTHROUGH IN 2021
thuy has been releasing music for a few years now. But she arguably reached her highest career peak yet in 2021 with the release of successful singles like in my head, in my bag, and universe. The year also saw thuy drop her debut EP, i hope u see this, a nine-track EP that follows the stages of a toxic relationship, from breakup to finding yourself again. The EP was met with positive reviews and has since went on to rack up tens of millions of streams and counting. “It was such an accomplishment for me,” expresses thuy. “I feel so proud to be able to curate a world for people to dive into even if it is only for 25 minutes. It’s my first baby and I really poured my heart and soul into it. It was a great feeling to close out a chapter and start something new.”
The album bore from thuy’s experiences during the start of the pandemic. With everything being put on hold, she felt that her career was going nowhere. She knew she had to do something. “I knew I had to continue to stay productive, so I reached out to a producer, Beatzzbytazz, based in China. He sent me a beat pack that really inspired me and after that I realized that we were in the baby stages of the making of my first EP.”
thuy is currently hard at work on the deluxe edition of the EP set to drop later this year. Already, she released a new song from the album called inhibitions featuring P-Lo as the first single off the re-release. thuy expressed that fans have quite a lot to look forward to with the new release. “I’m so excited for people to hear the deluxe because I have some amazing features on there! The crowd favorite songs will have a feature on it and of course a couple new songs will be added!”
VIETNAMESE GIRL IN THE MUSIC SCENE
thuy has stated in the past that she had no one to look up to who looked like her growing up. So, now that she is firmly establishing herself in the R&B scene, she can proudly claim to be one of the handful but growing number of Asians not just in R&B, but music in general. What excites her the most is that those within the R&B community and her own have accepted her, including her parents. “I feel so grateful to be embraced by the R&B community and especially my own! I’m honored to be that form of representation for so many people who look like me. I’m one of the few in the music industry so I hope that my journey inspires others to also pursue their dreams.”
This is actually what she feels helps her stand out from the crowd. Aside from her talents, she’s not like the others. From her name to her background, she has something to say. “I think that my experiences make me unique. I have a story to tell and that makes me stand out on its own. All of my songs stem from real life experiences and I think this is why my supporters gravitate towards me. I only speak from the heart and I always lead with love.”
TAKE THE RISK
So, what’s next for thuy? Aside from the deluxe EP and new music, she’s also going on her first sold-out tour with the hopes of expanding it abroad. “I have such a love for performing and touching fans all around the world. When I’m on stage and in the presence of their energy, there is no better feeling! I also hope to continue growing into a better musician and a better me, mentally and physically!”
When it comes to her new and would-be fans, she hopes that her music becomes a source of comfort for them. “I want them to feel heard and seen! I want them to feel like they have someone who understands them! And I also want them to feel good. Music is such a healing thing and if I can help in that way, I’m already fulfilling my purpose.” For those looking to get into thuy, she suggests to first listen to in my bag or u got me as they “present two different sides of my artistry.”
And as for the young Asians out there hoping to follow their dreams, thuy says the most important step you can do is taking the risk. Don’t just make it a what if moment. “Take the risk! It always pays off. Bet on yourself and drown out any self-doubt. Sometimes you have to fake it even with yourself but before you know it, you’ll be exactly who you want to be. No one’s opinion of you matters more than your own desire to fulfill your true passion.”