BackArts & Culture » Music & Art » Quãng 8 » DJ Pia and Tumie, the Duo Blending Violin, EDM, and Vietnamese Culture

DJ Pia and Tumie, the Duo Blending Violin, EDM, and Vietnamese Culture

A black and red “Slave 2 Rave” flag ruffles in the distance while an abundance of laser beams, bubble streams, fireworks, and confetti clouds filled the night’s sky at Ravolution Musical Festival last Sunday. RAVO X DIMENSION welcomed a premiere lineup for its 10th Edition celebration consisting of international artists from around the US, Europe, and Asia, as well as local artists, including a musical duo from Vietnam.

When you think of iconic musical duos, they seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Simon & Garfunkel. Hall & Oates. The Black Keys. The White Stripes. Outkast. Daft Punk. The list goes on. Rarely, however, does one encounter a collaboration between a progressive-house DJ and a classically trained violinist. What's even more rare is to discover they have the same birthday and even have the same name.

If you were lucky enough to find yourself jumping up and down shoulder to shoulder with fellow ravers inhabiting Vạn Phúc City last weekend, you would have discovered exactly what I just described taking the main stage — meet Pia & Tumie, the DJ and violinist duo taking local stages by storm.

An unlikely pair of musical kindred spirits

To say Pia and Tumie are so close they finish each other's sentences is an understatement. Listening to them talk in a cafe is synonymous with listening to them play on stage. They feed off each other's energy. Like rappers in a perpetual cipher, they stay forever freestyling together. However, before they met in a club in Đà Nẵng in 2018, before they first played together that same year, and before they became an official duo this May in Hà Nội, both of them have lived through their own unique journeys that brought them together.

"Very Vietnam" live set by Pia & Tumie.

Pia was born in Hạ Long and throughout her childhood, she was an exceptional student. By earning top scores, she got a scholarship for the South Asia Youth Leadership program, which allowed her to study abroad in the US at 16. A few years later, at 19, she decided she wanted to be a DJ. These days, after a decade of performing and gathering inspiration from the likes of other progressive house DJs such as Alesso, music has blossomed into a cornerstone of her life.

“Music is for everything. For feeling emotion. For feeling inside our soul,” Pia says. “What we're missing outside right now is everybody cares about if you're doing this, you're not gonna make money and it's killing our soul. So I want to prove to everyone that we work in the music industry and still make money.”

Image via Facebook page Pia  & Tumie.

Nonetheless, she doesn't discredit the value of her education. In fact, she offers what I thought was sound advice for young kids also interested in pursuing music: “I want to tell every kid in Vietnam that learning is very important even if you live in the mountains or you live in the countryside or you live in the city; learning is the most important thing, especially for children. Then when you finish high school, you’ll have enough knowledge to decide what you want to do with your life. And also don’t forget to play. Just have fun and be a kid.”

Tumie, on the other hand, is from Hà Nội, and her music journey started when she was much younger. She's been practicing violin since she was six years old, initially starting at the Vietnam National Academy of Music. Roughly a year later, when she was seven years old, Tumie's former music teacher from Germany hand-built her very first violin after recognizing Tumie's natural talents early on. From that point on, she's dedicated the last 24 years to music, which included a master's degree in Music, two more years of advanced study at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Moscow, appearing on Rap Việt Season 1, and becoming a resident artist for multiple venues. And despite being classically trained all those years, Tumie is a big fan of hip-hop artists including Eminem, her idol from when she was in high school.

“I told you she is professional!” Pia says, laughing and jumping in between Tumie's sentences, “And now she can have the young generation, the raver in high school or university, listen to the violin. [sic]”

From small venues to the big stage

That said, 2023 was the year Pia and Tumie officially became a duo at the 9th Edition of Ravolution in Hanoi. Although both of them had played with various other artists over the years, the two appeared to experience a higher level of trust and confidence in each other compared to others. “Pia is very special to me,” Tumie says, “I like her style of music, and she knows everything about me and has the same big visions to reach out to global audiences, so she has a big dream like me.”

All of these instances along their journey led to another special night for the duo: performing RAVO X Dimension's final key moment. In between world-renowned DJs like Oliver Heldens dancing on stage and Steve Aoki throwing cake into the crowd, Pia & Tumie took center stage for a few minutes. And for this particular show, they decided to team up with other local artists to share the main stage: Hoàng Thi Saxman and singer May. Although they did not perform a long live set, their time on stage was electric.

'Qua Cầu Gió Bay' by Pia & Tumie.

Starting with the Hypaton & David Guetta remix of La Bouche’s ‘Be My Lover,’ Pia then went right into a remix of B Ray's infamous ‘Pepsi Flow’ lyrics with a big firework explosion and a fleet of masked dancers lining up in the front. A simulated mission control intercom then followed, welcoming the crowd into a new dimension, playing on this year’s intergalactic theme. “We are the sun, ah hey ya ya ya, We are the moon, ah hey ya, We are the sky, ah hey ya ya, We are the stars,” Luke Bond's lyrics paired with trance beats aired as the dancers' hands started illuminating the then-darkened stage.

Tumie then entered from the right, followed by Hoàng Thi on the left. Together, they begin to play a remixed version of ‘Hello Vietnam,’ created by the duo’s producer Nghi Martin — which is the same song the duo played to end their ‘VERY VIETNAM’ live set, released a few months before the show. And based on the vibes near the main stage, when then featured a woman dressed in a white áo dài on the shoulders of one of the dancers combined with the peaceful melodies from Tumie's violin and Hoàng Thi’s saxophone, their performance seemed to soothe the souls of the crowd late into the night.

Hoàng Thi (left) and May (right). Images courtesy of Ravolution.

Not for too long, though, as Pia followed up Tumie and Hoàng Thi with a Hardwell & Machine Made remix over The Killers' lyrics, “Are we human or are we dancers?” turning things up a notch with more lights, more explosions, and probably more noise complaints coming from the Vạn Phúc City area on a Sunday night.

To round out the key moment of the night, May finally entered the stage. She began by singing “You were the shadow to my light, Did you feel us? Another star, You fade away…” a nod to the song ‘Faded’ by DJ Alan Walker, one of the DJs to headline at the first Ravolution festival back in 2016. She concluded the moment by singing Martin Garrix and Matisse & Sadko’s lyrics, “We don't need much, As long as we're together, together, together…”

Tumie on stage. Image courtesy of Ravolution.

This idea of "We" flowing in and out of the melodies in Pia & Tumie's performance represents what fuels Vietnam's rave culture. Being in the pit provides a sense of escape from everyday life and serves as a place to “be free to release,” as Pia describes. “We are ravers. We are music lovers. So we want something to count on every year to have fun,” she adds. The rave scene will only continue to grow as festivals like Ravolution attract more international artists every year and highlight local Vietnamese talents like Pia & Tumie and others.

However, beyond that, and more importantly, DJs like Pia and classical artists like Tumie have the potential to create new waves of Vietnamese artists — singular or in tandem — to believe that they too can work hard, follow their own journey, and maybe even find themselves on the main stage one day playing in front of thousands.

Pia & Tumie's performance at Ravolution. Image courtesy of Ravolution.

Pia & Tumie's musical path up until now offers a valuable lesson about music, art, and life as a whole: one plus one does not equal two. One plus one equals three. When two people can come together and celebrate both their similarities and differences, something special happens: not only do they have a chance to pursue their dreams, but their very pursuit inspires others to dream too.

If you're interested in seeing Pia & Tumie perform, they have two upcoming shows scheduled before the end of the year: Christmas Day at B21 Bar in Đà Lạt and New Year's Eve at Sailing Club in Nha Trang. For more information, visit their Facebook Page here.

Related Articles

in Quãng 8

Something About Xe (Đạp): Olivier Flora's Knack for Fun, Flamboyant Remixes

The saxophone riff in ‘Careless Whispers’ is not only instantly recognizable due the popularity of the original song by George Michael but has since become an internet fixture — a classic meme.

in Quãng 8

The Marriage of Electronic and Folk Instruments in DJ Teddy Chilla's Music

DJ and producer Teddy Chilla is among a few artists in the current music scene who are known to experiment with Vietnamese traditional music in their electronic works.

in Quãng 8

Dzũng Phạm, the Progressive Metal Guitarist Enamored With Folk Music

“I want to elevate Vietnamese traditional music to the most glorious and heralded position. There, it's the center of attention, not merely something added just for the sake of embellishment.” Buildin...

Khôi Phạm

in Quãng 8

Hanoi Indie Duo Limebócx Brings Tried-and-Trù Traditions to Young Ears

A grazing buffalo, frolicking water puppets, mystifying tam cúc cards, an insolent maiden in áo tứ thân, a rustic meal around cái mâm. These are just a few standout visuals that will haunt your brain ...

in Quãng 8

Hiimhii Used to Struggle at Karaoke, so He Decides to Write His Own Songs

Despite his late entrance in the music scene, Hiimhii and his trusty ukulele has quickly won the hearts of many Vietnamese indie fans with his mellow, contemplative compositions.

in Quãng 8

Linh Ha's Ethereal Vocal Harmonies Push the Boundaries of Hanoi's Electronic Music Scene

When Linh Ha hosts Xom Nhac, Hanoi Social Club’s regular live music showcase, her electronic instruments, all sleek plastic and snaking black wires, lie on top of a silky floral scarf. The scarf is sp...

Partner Content