Music Journal

I used to use Lastfm in the past. It is such a great place for music lover whom always want to discover the so wide music world. Just suddenly see an e-mail, login back to my old profile (the 2nd or 3rd, maybe). So great to see my old journal of music, a lot to tell. And some friends on that special place.

In the old yahoo mail, found some e-mails for Italian books, the very first, time flies.

A.N

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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 arrtist)

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!

Short talk with Niels Lan Doky

We did this chit chat about 4 years ago, after listening to many music of Niels and his brother Chris. I just love their music and found a lot of Asian and Vietnamese elements inside. We have a short talk about music and something. That was fun

Me: Hi Niels, it’s a great pleasure for me to have a talk with you about music, culture and some things more about Vietnam. Here are some questions that I would like to hear your opinions:

How many times did you return to Vietnam?

Niels: I think about 7 or 8 times

Me: What did you feel when you come here?

Niels: It always feels great!

From the first time I came, it felt like being home – which I didn’t expect.

I could easily live there and I even considered it for a while. Because I travel so much, I can live anywhere. However I work mainly in Europe at the moment so it is not a viable possibility right now but in the future I would love to spend more time there and maybe have a part time home in Hanoi, my father’s home townJ

Me: You did cooperate with some Vietnamese artists like Quoc Trung, Thanh Lam, Duong Thu, how do you feel about them?

Niels: I think they are incredible musicians with lots of passion, urge, skill, taste and intelligence in their music and I felt deeply inspired working with them.

Me: Do you intend to have any future project with Vietnamese artists?

Nothing concretely planned at the moment, but definitely planning to do something even more ambitious with Vietnamese artists again in the future, hopefully near future.

Me: You and your brother – Chris, have some songs used some Vietnamese materials (Mot Thoang Tay Ho, Ru Con Mien Bac) ,do you often listen to Vietnamese music ?

Niels: Not very often in the past, but since my first visit to Vietnam in 1998 and my meeting with Quoc Trung and Thanh Lam I listen to Vietnames music from time to time. I am particurly fascinated by Quoc Trung’s The Road To Infinity CD which I think is some of the most compelling and unique music I have ever heard from any country in Asia.

Me: I’m curious about “Ru Con Mien Bac” – an amazing song, did you and your brother hear it in your childhood?

Niels: Not really, We grew up in Denmark , far from our Vietnamese relatives (closest ones living in France) and only discovered Vietnamese music later in life.

Me: Can you tell me about your new album– Human Behavior, why do you choose this name?

Niels: I wanted to do a jazz rendition of a Björk song, as I respect her a lot as an artist. So I chose her song Human Behavior to include on the album. I love the lyrics of the song, and I am also  generally very passionate about philosophy and curious about life in general  – so I thought that Human Beaviour would be a good album title.

Me: You transferred some songs into your style (Man In The Mirror, or recently – Yellow… ), they are both great in my opinion. Can you tell me how to make good covers like them?

Niels: Thank you!  I think the first step is to make sure you pick songs that you really like so that you hae strong feelings about them. Then the next step is to simply follow your intuition and be as expressive as you can when stating the melody and use the musical vocabulary and tools at your disposal to make a vocal song come to life as an instrumental melody.

Me: Do you have any project with your brother in the future (like Doky Brothers in the past)?

Niels: Nothing planned at the moment, but we do get together once in a while (2008 and 2010 were the last times).

Me: Will you (you and Chris) have a plan to play together at a performance in Vietnam?

Niels: At the moment we don’t have any projects planned together anywhere in the world, but it is not impossible to imagine that we will do something together again in the future, in particularly in Vietnam could be very nice.

Thank you so much for giving me time replying those answers, and wish you have more great compositions in the future. Hope to see you soon.

 

Thank you so much and hope to see you in VN soon.

Warmest wishes,

NIELS

An Nguyễn