Born and raised in the mountains of Northeast Vietnam, Lý Trang had to push out into the wider world before reaching an artistic epiphany.
Her second album Syenite is grounded in a sense of alienation, first when she left home and moved to Hanoi for school, and latterly when she relocated to Moscow just a few months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In Hanoi, Trang’s withdrawal eased when she connected with the local underground scene, joining Rắn Cạp Đuôi Collective – who released “Ngủ Ngày Ngay Ngày Tận Thế” on Subtext in 2021 – for short period before focusing more on her work as a multimedia artist. In the Russian capital meanwhile, her separation from home cracked open a deep yearning that swallowed up the erupting geopolitical uncertainty, crystallizing into 10 electro-acoustic jewels.
1. There’s nothing such as ‘normal’
2. I treasure both the becoming active and becoming reactive in listening process
3. “The complexity of the music had as much to do with the fact that Van Vliet didn’t know what he was doing as with anything else” – John ‘Drumbo’ French
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The choir of frogs and crickets in my hometown.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I taught myself to play guitar when I was 15 and slowly got into the traditional music of my ethnic group. I traveled a lot to mountainous and highland areas in Vietnam during my college years and got engaged with each community, their music and performance rituals as so much a part of the fabric of (their) life. And it has always fascinated me.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I would say:
Julia Holter “Tragedy”
Meredith Monk “Book of days”
Tsembla “The Hole in the Landscape” …
and so much more
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Fashion, bridges, vibrant street art scene, cool music communities, somewhere I want to visit in the future.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
The market near my house, Nam Dong. I enjoy every morning walk to it, buying fresh vegetables, talking to people, listening to all the sounds that make me happy for waking up early.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Making silent films and growing parsley I guess.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
The latest music I listened is Yair Elazar Glotman’s “ÉTUDES”
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Laurie Anderson and anyone in section 3.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a spectator: Kate NV’s live set at Strelka in 2021.
As a performer: My set at Duong Chay exhibition opening in Hanoi in 2019.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Technically, it does allow for my creativity in arranging and manipulating sound and layers, so I can easily glue together improvisations that sometimes lead to surprises. But I don’t want to think of it like an important tool. I thought about the co-authorship between myself and my technological tools in the sense that humans excel at art and feeling and emotion, while machines excel at reaching out of limits and inspiring their creators. So I would like to shift the understanding of technology from a tool to a complex dynamic and as part of human being and creating. Sometimes it also buzzes and crashes for no reason, which makes me feel much related to…
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Interesting question, but I’m an only child. My imaginary siblings probably will share different tastes with me but still embrace my work and fully support what I do.