thuy rhymes with R&B
Last November, fans from the Bay Area and beyond milled around the Brick & Mortar Music Hall, waiting for a glimpse of homegrown rising star thuy—pronounced “twee” and stylized in lowercase. Awkward and enthusiastic, as befitting a pandemic-wary crowd, many were at their first show in nearly two years, noticeably unsure when they would be able to attend a show again with Omicron just hitting the news. Determined, these fans came out for this R&B artist who came up in the East Bay.
They were rewarded, as a bombastic intro from the host brought thuy hopping to the stage to the high-pitched cheers of young fans. Dim the house lights, cue the bassline, raise the spot and shine it on a new star.
“It was an incredible moment, to be back in the Bay Area for my first headlining show,” thuy said in an interview over email. “I’ve only done [these new songs in] virtual shows in the comfort of my own home, so I wasn’t exactly sure how a live show would feel.”
The artist and I had been trying to meet over coffee while she was up from L.A., where she now lives. Alas, her growing responsibilities won out. But that is not a bad thing—it means she is on her way.
“To be honest, I had a little bit of imposter syndrome leading up to the show, because I just wasn’t sure if people were going to come out,” thuy said, demonstrating the humility that is a big part of her charm. “To see everybody singing the lyrics, dancing, even crying; it was a feeling that I can’t quite describe. Being able to see everybody in person and experience the entire project together was so special considering we’ve been in the pandemic for over two years now.”
Maybe that is why events like the Brick & Mortar show are so meaningful right now. People are running to gather for art, and supporting the creative spirit, because we suddenly have a better sense of what is really important in life. That is what streaming artists like thuy give us right now: hope.
Thuy studied psychology, planning on a career as a physician’s assistant. Like so many during the pandemic, she turned to creative outlets to process the impact of the pandemic along with everything else happening in the news. From there her passion for music took flight.
“Initially, I had no plans to put out a project,” she says. “I wanted to find a way to still express myself despite being locked up at home.”
What she found was the way forward for an unplanned career. International producer BeatzzByTazz sent thuy a beat pack, and suddenly she wrote two songs within the week. That is when thuy and co-writer, Charles Charron, looked at each other excitedly, as if to say, “Do we have a project on our hands?”
The result is i hope u see this, a 25-minute groove of an album that floats themes of heartbreak, love and longshots on sumptuous flow that owes as much to hip-hop as to R&B. It is good. Pause your reading and throw the album on Spotify. Oscillate your hips, unpause reading.
“My love for R&B started [by] going down a rabbit hole and listening to artists like Tamia, Brandy, Avant, etc. Their music made me feel like I was in love, even though I had never been in a relationship,” thuy said, recalling her youth. “At the end of the day, I just want people to hear my music and feel the way I used to feel.”
In part, that is what the album title represents: a path through which her fans might connect more deeply through shared love of R&B.
“Another very important reason [for the title] was because I wanted the little Asian boy or girl at home to … feel inspired enough to follow their own dreams,” thuy said. Representation and diversity are foremost on her mind as we head into the 2020s.
“I want people to love my music first, and then it just so happens to be that I’m Vietnamese-American. However, I do see how impactful my journey is on a lot of other Vietnamese-Americans, and I believe that representation is extremely important. I feel honored to be that form of representation for a lot of people who look like me,” she said, adding that even as a child in the Bay Area, “I wish I had seen more of that growing up.”
The album and headlining show are just part of the push by this savvy artist. Add an adorable holiday song, “snowing in LA,” and a recent virtual concert on the new platform, Encore. The woman knows how to grind, as she tells the world in the tune, “in my bag”:“Who knew I would be the one? Yeah, I knew, I knew, I knew. Talented but they don’t work as hard as I do, I do.”
Take a look at thuy’s promotional work and watch her infuse the daily grind with an infectious, goofy joy. Her Instagram page, @thuymusic, is delightful. The posts, stories and reels bring her followers along on the daily photoshoots, recording sessions and gigs that make up her ascendance.
All that work is paying off. With upcoming shows in L.A. and Oakland after New Years, an East Coast leg in the plans for 2022 and the beginnings of an international audience, this East Bay daughter is building on her roots.
“The East Bay has definitely influenced my music,” she said. “I feel like the Bay Area just moves differently and because of this, my music and my songwriting has a certain edge and flow to it.”
Although L.A.-based for now, thuy will always be a part of the Bay. “I love the Bay Area so much because I’ve always been surrounded by all walks of life, all sorts of journeys … [I]t’s super inclusive and diverse,” she said, adding that this uniqueness “has become an integral part of my artistry.”
“I always get excited to meet people in L.A. who are originally from the Bay Area, because we all just understand each other,” she said. “No matter where I choose to plant roots in the future, the Bay Area will always be home. There’s a certain level of comfort there that I could never find anywhere else.”
Follow thuy on Instagram @thuymusic for upcoming performance dates. Add thuy to your Spotify for current songs and new releases.