BackArts & Culture » Music & Art » Quãng 8 » Thành Đồng's Music Is a Breath of Fresh Air in the Era of Overproduction

Thành Đồng's Music Is a Breath of Fresh Air in the Era of Overproduction

Inspired by life 's simple joys, Thành Đồng delivers a sense of familiarity, earnestness, and narrative richness with every song.

When a music video director writes music

I was first introduced to Thành Đồng’s music via a Facebook page and was immediately drawn to the striking visuals and melodies of his creations. Using very mundane imagery, he manages to breathe in a range of moods, from solitude to melancholy to hope, forging an intimate connection between what viewers see on screen and what they hear in their ears.

Upon further research, I learned about Thành Đồng’s past works as a music video director. During a decade in the industry, Đồng and his team produced several chart-topping hits, including some pop earworms that have amassed millions of replays like ‘Thu cuối,’ ‘Gửi anh xa nhớ,’ and ‘Bước qua mùa cô đơn.’

Before releasing his own music, Thành Đồng directed.

Before unveiling his own music, Thành Đồng “debuted” by lending his voice to the smash hit ‘Anh đếch cần gì nhiều ngoài em’ alongside Đen and Vũ. He also collaborated with folk singer Lê Cát Trọng Lý in ‘Chuyện chúng mình cùng.’ Even earlier than that, Thành Đồng shared that he was also active on SoundCloud, sharing a few songs that he wrote himself like ‘Tình yêu’ and ‘Mưa mùa hạ.’

No matter which role Đồng occupies in a project, he always tries to add his personal touch every step of the way. Đồng’s music videos are often characterized by realist sequences in neutral tones without much grandiose special effects. Music-wise, Đồng opts for acoustic guitar and everyday subject matters, telling the stories of his own inner world through very folksy melodies.

Storytelling and music writing

When asked about how he finds materials to find music, Đồng answers: “I write my songs just from everyday events that are familiar to everyone, things that have been in my mind since I was young. I remember them and write them into songs.” This wistful way of telling stories has always been part of Đồng’s craft right from very early works like ‘Tình yêu’ to his debut EP “Trong im ở lặng.”

In 2021, Thành Đồng published “Trong im ở lặng,” humbly categorizing it as “just a playlist” as he felt that it was created just for fun, not professional enough to be album or EP. In the music video for the title track, the featured subjects come from Đồng’s real-life connections, from the rotund black-spotted cat to Nhà của Thái, his production team’s studio.

“Narrative-driven” is an apt word to describe Thành Đồng's music.

“Trong im ở lặng” means “Within the solitude” in Vietnamese, and true to its name, the record is crafted from the quiet moments in its composer’s everyday life. He shared: “When I have a lot of free time, I always try to think of something to do to exercise my brain. That was how this playlist came about, and there might be more in the future.”

The single ‘Ngày thảnh thơi’ (A Languid Day) stands out the most because of how it was created. The song is a “homework” from a creative camp at the Carnation Art School House in Đà Lạt. At the time, the prompt was to write a song about the feeling of ennui and acceptance. Coincidentally, it started raining in Đà Lạt, reminding Thành Đồng of the days of his childhood: “I played in the rain quite often, showering in the giant basin of the sky. At the time, I liked floating atop the water, so the sentence ‘nằm bơi trong bể nước’ [lying in the water pond] came to my mind right away.” This eventually became the opening line of the song.

Closing your eyes, putting on your headphones, and immersing in the music of Thành Đồng, one will surely experience something quite different, as his rumination often strays from listeners’ expectations. With a focus on life's very mundane occurrences, Thành Đồng weaves in insightful narratives and moods. A drizzling day in Đà Lạt can connect him to the summer showers of his childhood, and a flooded street in Hội An can inspire a sense of freedom, like floating atop a water surface.

Đồng gets his inspiration from everyday life.

Thành Đồng often employs rhetorical questions in his lyrics, like “Hỏi đàn cá bơi đã qua bao cuộc đời [Ask a school of fish how many lives they’ve lived]” in ‘Ngày thảnh thơi’ and “Biết mai về sau, còn có căn nhà ta thương nhau? [How could we know if the house where we fell in love would remain?]” in ‘Con mèo béo.’ These unanswered questions form the emotional connection between the writer and listeners.

How music can grow along with life

Doing what's enjoyable is a priority in Thành Đồng's music journey.

It’s often said that doing something well is not as important as doing something consistently, though Thành Đồng does both. He enjoys singing and does it as often as possible — while working, when at a traffic light, and of course, in the shower. Ten years after publishing his first tunes on SoundCloud, Thành Đồng now has an official record out in the world. Still, Đồng doesn’t treat it like a big deal, knowing that music for him is “just a part of everyday life.”

The utmost priority for Thành Đồng is doing what he enjoys. “The most important rule that my team and I adhere to in our making of this playlist is experimenting with making music and having fun together,” he said. Creating music is a complete process that results in something special for both us and the production team. To Đồng, paying attention to the crew’s morale is crucial. The songs might not garner millions of views like those commissioned by major pop stars, but they value positive feedback from listeners much more than arbitrary numbers.

When asked when fans can expect to find new Thành Đồng songs, he didn’t have an answer. Nonetheless, no matter which hat Đồng might wear at any moment in the production process, he puts the actualization and enjoyment of the writer above all else: “I think the creator must go out and live a bit to produce excellent work.”

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