Interview with Chris Minh Doky

After an interview with Niels, I also got a contact and finally could arrange another with his famous brother – Chris. How to say, as a bass player also I do admire his talent and music, so this one is really a honor for me – still now

Me: It’s very nice to have a chance talking with you. As a pleasure and honor for me. Here is some questions that I always want to ask and hear from you.

Me: When did you start your musical career?

Chris: Well, I never considered my music a career. It is just something I do and lucky to be doing it so much that it is all I can do. Of course, looking from the outside it can be described as a career, but again for me is more like having a job that you go to. I play and make music, because I love it and cannot stop doing it. With that said, my father started teaching me piano when I was 5. I switched to classical percussion at 13 and then bass at 15. When I was 17 I realised i couldn’t become a doctor as planned, because I wanted to play music all the time. Shortly after I moved to New York where I have lived ever since.

Chris Minh Doky

Chris Minh Doky – Photo credit to Maarten Moojiman (used with agreement from artist)

Me: Can you tell me why did you choose bass as your instrument?

Chris: I had a school job at a music store and they gave me an electric bass as a parting gift. In the classical orchestra I playing in (Tivoli Garden Boys Guard) they needed an electric bass for a piece, and I decided to play that part. I just loved the bass from that moment.

Me: I can see that you use an electronic double bass for recording- is it different with the normal one? Can you tell me why?

Chris: The electronic double bass I play is called a Silent Bass. I developed it with Yamaha and is shaped after my acoustic. So when i close my eyes I feel no difference between my acoustic and the Silent Bass. The difference is that the Yamaha Silent Bass is build and made to only give sound when amplified. The acoustic bass is not build to give sound when amplified and when you amplify an acoustic bass it doesn’t sound that great because of that. On the other hand the Yamaha Silent Bass is build to sound good when amplified.

I decided develop this bass because after 9-11 it became very difficult to travel with a big acoustic bass. I needed something smaller and easier to travel with, but at the time there was no electronic upright basses that sounded or felt right. To me, the sound of the Silent Bass is so very close to and acoustic bass. When you play with a band, you can maybe only hear it’s not and acoustic bass about 15-20% of the time when the band is quite enough. With and amplified acoustic bass you can only hear the acoustic sound about 15-20% of the time, when the band is quite enough. That means that the Silent Bass on stage sounds more like an acoustic bass 80% of the time, and a real acoustic only sounds acoustic 20% of the time. It was therefor easy to decide to play the silent bass. The bonus was that I found out there are so many more musical possibilities with the Silent Bass, that for many years it’s the bass I play the most.

Me: Your playing style is very unique- which bass players have influenced in your style?

Chris: Great many bass players has inspired me, but also drummers, pianist, singers and saxoplayers etc have inspired me on my instrument. But I can mention a few bass players such as Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Jaco Pastorius, Gary Peacock, Verdine White, Marcus Miller, Eddie Gomez, Ron Carter.

Me: I know that Vietnam is your fatherland, have you ever been there? and can you tell me about your imagination of Vietnam?

Chris: Yes, I have been several times to Vietnam and I truly love it there. Especially Hanoi, where my father and my family is from. I hope to one day be able to buy a house in Hanoi and spend time there. I grew up surrounded by my Vietnamese family with all the culture, values, food etc. Unfortunately, my family spoke French (because they almost all live in France and I went to French school) to me so I didn’t learn very much Vietnamese. But I feel very close to my Vietnamese heritage and family. I want to do much more with VietNam.

Me: I have listened to your song “Ru Con Mien Bac” – An amazing one. Can you tell me about it?

Chris: Thank you! All my childhood I would always hear the VietNamese language and often also the Dan Tranh. The songs and the sounds of VietNamese fills me with peace, comfort and love. When I hear this lullaby I cried and I knew I wanted to interpret it with my instrument voice.

Chris Minh Doky photo credit by Asger Mortensen

Chris Minh Doky – Photo credit to Asger Mortensen (used with agreement from artist)

Me: Do you listen to Vietnamese music regularly? How do you feel?

Chris: Yes, I often listen to VietNamese music. Mostly classical Viet music, but also more moderne stuff. I love Nguyen Le who is very inspired by Viet music.

Me: As a musician, you maybe have to travel a lot, can you tell which city do you like best?

Chris: Haha, yes I travel so very much. But even after all these years (25+) of constant travelling, I do still love it. I love the contrasts between countries. The smell, the weather, the food, the sound, the culture…everything. I find all countries have something I love, but I most admit that when I’m in Asia I feel maybe more home.

Me: You brother- Niels has played in Vietnam sometimes, if you have a chance, do you want to have a concert in Vietnam?

Chris: I would love to have a concert in VietNam. I want to visit with my band, but also I want to be a guest soloist with the Ho Chi Minh symphony orchestra. I have so much music ready for that. Also, I have started a collaboration with Anh Le (Masterchef VietNam) and SOS Childrens Village to do charity work for children in Vietnam. I hope to come to VietNam a lot more in the future.  I love my VietNamese heritage and I want to express my gratitude and love through my music to VietNam.

You can answer whenever you want.

Me: As a bass player also, I admire your talent and hope to see you playing once.

Chris: Thank you so much. Means a lot coming from a fellow bass player!