‘I’m proud of you, b*tch’: Vietnamese American popstar Thuy is just what we need

‘I’m proud of you, b*tch’: Vietnamese American popstar Thuy is just what we need‘I’m proud of you, b*tch’: Vietnamese American popstar Thuy is just what we need
via Edgar Daniel
Pursuing music was a secret passion for Thuy — one that she had kept hidden from her parents.
Born Thuy Thi Thu Tran, the now-independent singer-songwriter graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a degree in biopsychology. Thuy had intentionally landed herself in the medical field, where she would eventually explore various roles in dental clinics, dermatology practices and optometrist offices. 
“My path is predetermined,” she would muse as a young girl whenever she overheard her mother gossiping with relatives about whose child had become a doctor. Growing up in California to Vietnamese parents, Thuy lived with expectations of pursuing a career as a doctor or lawyer, a quintessential Asian American dream shaped by her family’s experiences as refugees.
“For us, the level of success meant having a job that the Vietnamese community could brag about, to be honest,” Thuy tells NextShark. “So I naturally was like, ‘OK, I guess I need to become a doctor or do something in the medical field to make my parents proud.’ I think that pressure was placed on me and my siblings from when we were like literally babies.”
via Thuy, LLC
But Thuy got an inkling to become a singer after discovering artists like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the age of 8. This dream, initially sparked by karaoke sessions at family gatherings, eventually led her to secretly spend many nights in recording studios after telling her parents she was going to study with friends. The then-aspiring singer would also release several cover songs on social media. 
Thuy’s dream eventually grew into a consuming passion she could not ignore. At the age of 27, she made the bold decision to leave the medical field, a choice driven by intuition rather than a defined roadmap or external influence. Despite anticipating her parents’ disapproval, she moved to Los Angeles in 2015 to pursue her musical aspirations, while her parents believed she was there to advance her medical education.
“I never told them I was quitting the medical field,” the now-32-year-old singer-songwriter says. “I was too afraid to do that. I think they had a rude awakening when they came and visited me in LA a year after. My dad could see that like there’s no books around, and I’m not going to school. So I think that was when it kind of started to sink in, and he was like, ‘Hey, are you going back to school?’”
Instead of returning to school, Thuy focused on releasing multiple R&B and pop singles before leading up to her nine-track debut EP, “i hope u see this.” This achievement eventually paved the way for her first tour with four sold-out dates in 2022. 
Thuy’s early music was heavily inspired by her past experiences, particularly dealing with outwardly inflicted heartbreak and pain, which served as a cathartic outlet. However, her focus began to shift during her rise to international fame. Now, her music reflects more of her internal struggles, mental health and efforts to be present and appreciate life. 
via Thuy, LLC
In the fall of 2022, Thuy released her second EP, “girls like me don’t cry,” featuring a title track that gained massive popularity on TikTok. The song bolstered her name in the mainstream music industry, earning her international recognition for her catchy nostalgic 2000s sound, R&B melodies, agile vocal runs and dreamlike soundscapes.
Her international success led to a sold-out tour in Australia and brought her to the 2024 Coachella stage, where she made history as the first Vietnamese American artist to perform at the renowned annual music festival. 
“Coachella was such an amazing experience, like a once in a lifetime,” Thuy recalls. “I’ve done a couple festivals, but to do Coachella for the first time was just out of this world. It was definitely a benchmark in my career, and it was a thing where I finally felt like, ‘Wow, I’m proud of you, b*tch.’ I never say that a lot to myself, but it was just definitely one of those moments I felt very proud. It was such a big production for me, and it was so much prep that there were times where I wanted to break down and didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it through this. But to make it through and to kill Coachella was just such a dream.”
Thuy cherished the opportunity to connect with a diverse audience and felt immense gratitude for the strong support from her Southeast Asian fans. What made her historic performance even more special was seeing her parents in the crowd.
“At times, I would scan the crowd and I’d see my mom jumping up and down,” Thuy shares. “And then after the set, I just remember them like running back and hugging me. They’re just so proud because they get to see their daughter doing what she loves. But I think there’s also an aspect to it where they can brag about me as my parents.”
Following Thuy’s historical performance, she received significant coverage on Vietnamese news outlets, which she says made her parents realize the extent of her success. Thuy fondly recalls how her parents would excitedly call her to highlight the numerous articles featuring her in Vietnam. This media recognition marked a milestone for Thuy, allowing her to finally share her accomplishments with her parents in a deeply gratifying manner.
via Lauren Lamboy
Thuy reveals she’s currently working on a project that she aims to release by fall. She initially planned a summer release but found it overwhelming to balance all her responsibilities as an independent artist. In April, she dropped her latest single, “Hair Down,” accompanied by a whimsical music video where she fulfills a personal dream of interacting with dogs on set. Thuy has since announced a collaboration with a K-pop artist for a remix of the song. Although the artist or group has yet to be revealed, the singer shares her admiration for K-pop acts like Le Sserafim, Aespa, Red Velvet, Bibi and Chungha
“This year is a big collab year for me,” she says, hinting at another potential collaboration with Filipino R&B artist Denise Julia on her unreleased track “Twin Flame.” Thuy expresses excitement about stepping out of her usual style and exploring different musical directions to contrast with her current pop-oriented solo work. She sees these collaborations as a way to rediscover herself and bring fresh perspectives to her music, promising unexpected elements in her upcoming project.
via Thuy, LLC
Moving forward, Thuy aims to grace other major festivals such as Lollapalooza and earn recognition at mainstream award ceremonies. While she keeps specific aspirations private, she underscores her ambition for broader acclaim and increased Southeast Asian representation within the American music industry.
She encourages young Asian American artists to explore their interests without feeling pressured to settle on a career path too quickly. She believes embracing an underdog mindset, being open to change and pursuing what one loves are key to success. However, she stresses the importance of finding joy and fulfillment in the journey, not just in reaching a destination.
“Listen to your heart, listen to the younger you and what you really love,” Thuy says. “Don’t let other people’s definition of success keep you from feeling like you’re late to things. Don’t let age be something that holds you back from changing your career because at the end of the day, you have one life, and you want to be able to look back on it and say, ‘I really was able to get to something I love.’ But it’s all a journey, and you can be multiple things at once. I hope whatever it is that you’re doing is something you love. I think everything you do in life really is going to lead you to your final purpose, and you never really know where your final destination will be.”
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