The Singer's Company Blog Q&A
I'm happy to announce my upcoming feature on The Singer's Company blog! Shout out to Roy Hamilton for making it a wonderful experience.
Where are you from?
I was born in an apartment in East Oakland. My mom was 17 and the entire 9 months that my mom was pregnant with me, my grandparents did not know. When my mom had me in the bathroom on January 31st at 6:28AM and brought me into my grandparents room, they thought it was a ghost carrying a crying baby.
How did you get your start in music?
At the age of 5, my grandparents taught me how to sing a handful of Vietnamese songs. This is how I learned how to read. At the age of 8, I had an epiphany that songs were simply sentences with a melody. I recall asking my uncle to give me any random sentence because I bet I could sing it. I remember spinning around in an office chair singing about the most peculiar things. I knew at that moment that I had the ability to write songs.
How would you describe your genre and sound?
Naturally, I would describe my genre and sound as Alternative R&B. My voice is soulful, sonically heartwarming and inviting. My last album, “Not Every Dream is Jaded” is an evolving depiction of my authentic voice. I am excited for my next album “Rearview Mirror” which is a contemporary rock album that will showcase my voice in another genre. My first love was my classical guitar named Adam. I wrote all the songs on this next album with him.
What’s your writing process?
In normal, everyday conversation, I am always listening out for song titles, lyrics and concepts. I keep a running list of song ideas that I refer to when I begin a new song. Typically, I begin with music, either from a producer or my guitar. I then choose a topic and then brain spill all the thoughts I have on that topic. I give myself plenty of safe space and freedom to let my mind be creative, honest and daring in the writing process.
To follow, I develop a melody and write from beginning to end. It’s important as well, to incorporate songwriting into my daily lifestyle. For example, when I feel overwhelmed or have strong emotions, I cope by “capsuling” all my feelings in that moment. I’ve written many songs based on these notes including one of my favorites “Line in the Sand.” It goes without saying, songwriting is embedded in me. I could never imagine my life without it.
What has your recording process been like?
For the “Not Every Dream is Jaded” album, I recorded with my producer Lamar Van Sciver, whom I consider to be one of the most talented, patient and supportive people in my life. I traveled to LA on 8 separate occasions to record this album, and each song came with its own set of challenges.
A few non-music related challenges included: logistics, time away from my kids, financial planning, taking time off in a high-stress work environment, and mental/emotional health.
Music related challenges included: vocal training & preparation, harmony arrangements, resilience in the recording booth, sharp focus when it came to comping, educating myself enough to communicate effectively through the mixing process and training for live performances.
What is a vocal health tip you would offer?
I am still learning about how to sing well and properly. I train every day and have epiphanies often about what works and what doesn’t. At the moment, I feel confident referring singers to my two favorite vocal programs - Cheryl Porter’s “Free Your Voice” & Sophie Shear’s “Total Voice.”
What has been the most exciting part of your music journey?
A lot of aspects of this journey excite me. A few joys that make me feel like a kid in a candy shop include:
Hearing a GREAT instrumental that inspires me to write. I felt this way when I received the instrumental for “Into You” at 3AM from Lamar.
Being in the recording booth. I feel a sense of overwhelming peace, like I can feel God smiling at me.
When the final mix of a song is done after my team and I work weeks, if not months on it, and diligently listen to it on every device.
When the visuals such as a cover and lyric video come together in an almost magical and effortless way.
Being able to tell Siri or Alexa to play my song!
When my friends and family support me in the most memorable ways.
What do you want your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
Honestly, I want my audience to feel deep emotion. It’s okay to feel vulnerable, honest, confident, inspired, sexy, resilient, classy and angry. As a mom, dedicated wife, full-time employee, and an Asian-American woman, it’s important for me to make quality, mom-boss music that positively influences listeners and perpetuates a spirit of self-belief, strength and ambition.
What is the purpose of the Ambitions of a Writer - Songwriter Showcase?
I want to build a community of Bay Area musical artists that are the cream of the crop! Not only do we scout for talent, we vet them. The Songwriter Showcase provides artists a safe space for sharing their story, message and songs. It’s also a platform for them to develop content, experience and expand their fans. Finally, the showcase will be a resource for industry-related contacts that can support and propel artists further into their music career.
Thanks again to The Singer's Company for being a platform to help indie artists develop sustainable music careers and for featuring me on your blog!