Ng?t (Sweet) is an indie-pop band from Vietnam that got started through social media in 2014, and soon resonated through the underground music community. In 2015, Ng?t self-released their first self-titled album and quickly sold all 1,000 copies of their CDs in just four days.
Fast forward to 2018, at Vietnam’s prestigious music awards, Gi?i Âm Nh?c C?ng Hi?n, they were awarded both Song of the Year and Best New Artist of the Year, which surprised the audience, as it was the first time that an underground, indie-based artist has received such recognition. Meet Trong Thang, Viet Hoang, Nam Anh and Chi Hung: four talented young guys from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
For their third album — simply titled 3 (Young and exciting new Ng?t music collection 2019) — there was no particular message or concept to their latest 14-track album. Without being boxed into a concept or story, the boys enjoy and appreciate flexibility and freedom to create the music they want. This is seen in the way they name their songs in lowercase mixed with capital letters, or in the way they sequence the 14 songs in no particular order or flow. Initially, the band did not want to number the songs on the album either, intending to give the listener the freedom to listen to the songs on the album randomly.
Their second album, Ng`bthg (loosely translated as “The Ordinary One”), was a little more specific and rational than the newer one. The band was ruled more on emotion, rather than randomness, in the creation of the album.
“The beauty is in the balance,” Trong Thang shared. “When we write an album filled with reason or emotion, it has its merit too. We just need a scale which measures everything in which we are feeling most comfortable within the creation of any album.”
Album 3 took more than two years to write and produce. They said that many times after recording a final take, they felt unsatisfied and incomplete, so they would record another one. Even when they were near the final stages of production, they still had a feeling of incompleteness during editing — so they went back to the drawing board. “In fact, 3 is an album that still makes us feel the least comfortable, leaving us with a sense of vulnerability,” Viet Hoang said.
Ng?t released the song “L?n cu?i (?i bên em xót xa ng??i ?i)” “[The Last Time (It still hurts being beside you), which was mastered at the legendary Abbey Road studios.
“It was quite a gamble for us to have our songs for #3 mastered at Abbey Road studios, one of the most famous studios in the world as we were not quite sure how they would master our songs, and if we would be comfortable with what we hear,” Trong Than said. “When we were about to release our first single from the album, and when everyone knew it was mastered at Abbey Road studios, everybody thought our new music was going to be similar to that of The Beatles, but actually, it was not.”
“Ru Mình” (“Lull Myself”) and “Chuông báo th?c (sáng r?i)” [“The Alarm (morning)”] were composed quickly, with Thang writing both songs in one night. There were songs like “Bé” (Tiny) or “M?u máo (TT)” [“Whining (TT)”] where the whole band jammed for one or two sessions, and had to rush into the studio immediately to record them. Ng?t’s music is not without improvisations.
There are songs that are well arranged, but upon closer attention especially through a listener’s headphones, one can expect to find new sounds and perspectives, familiar musical influences plus the freshness of a new artist intent on creating a difference in their music.
Because of this, not everyone is a fan of Ng?t. Some proclaim that their songs are so similar, they can sit through only two or three at a time. But after 7 years with three albums released and a series of sold-out concerts, Ngot know they have a loyal following of support. And, their fans know they will never hear a song performed live the same way twice.
In their slightly oversized T-shirts, these guys deliver an entertaining and energetic live show, making them one of the top bands in Vietnam now. For Ng?t, every step on the journey is a valuable milestone, all the way back to their humble beginnings.
Regarding their purpose, they shared: “Good, healthy fun. We have never focused on making music just to become successful and famous, but instead to create music to have a purpose, to be useful to the community.”
Trong Thang remarks on this without hesitation and a big satisfied look on his boyish face: “This way, I can now feel that my life can be meaningful, that I or we can serve a purpose to the community.”