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The Tenderness and Intimacy of Mademoiselle's Quiet Lullabies

Mademoiselle has become a familiar face in the indie music community for her signature soft voice and delicate melodies, which fans say typify the singer as a person. Although she isn’t as well-known to the public as her contemporaries, Mademoiselle has certainly charmed the hearts of those who enjoy her artistry. The singer recently made the move to Australia and is planning for the changes and steps ahead in her musical journey.

Finding a friend in music

The geographical distance between the two continents seems to have drawn Mademoiselle closer to her fans. While she rarely showed or talked about herself before, she’s now comfortable with making appearances and sharing her stories on social media. On her YouTube channel, she recently uploaded episodes of “aT-atalk with Mademoiselle,” a series of vlogs in which she goes through her daily routine, reveals her upcoming projects, and answers questions from fans.

“I like the little banter that my listeners and I have. It’s like we’re at a tea party. Whenever I upload a video, people would post all sorts of things in the comment. I read them all, and I feel whatever they feel, joy or sorrow. I didn’t do a lot of shows back when I was in Vietnam, and I’m not in Vietnam anymore either, so this is the only way for me to communicate with the audience,” Mademoiselle told Saigoneer

Significant developments have taken place in Mademoiselle’s professional career since she moved to Australia, but music still takes the center stage of her life.

Amidst changes in her surroundings and career trajectory, music continues to be an integral part of Mademoiselle’s life despite not being her main occupation in Australia. As far as the singer is concerned, Hồng Nguyễn (her real name) and Mademoiselle are two sides of the same coin. They complement and influence each other. Mademoiselle writes songs based on Hồng's experience, and Hồng finds solace in Mademoiselle to cope with her slightly mundane office job and life abroad. “No matter what happens, Mademoiselle will remain happily single and independent,” says the singer. She also humorously assured fans that she would not change her stage name to Madame if she ever gets married.

Heart-melting melodies

When discussing Mademoiselle’s notable works, it’s impossible not to mention her first album, "Những Tiếng Hát Thầm" (Quiet Lullabies), which debuted in 2020 after eight months of recording and production. The singer had hoped that the album would be able to overcome the success of her previous single, 'Loanh Quanh' (Around). In hindsight, she thinks that it has pulled off the feat. The album features seven tracks with a subtle hint of classical jazz. While all the tracks still have that unique and authentic Mademoiselle sound, the lyrics and composition display a maturity driven by her growth as a musician. And witnessing the singer’s artistic development against the gloomy backdrop of 2020, we believe Mademoiselle’s album has earned its rightful place in Saigoneer’s top three Vietnamese musical releases of the year.

Mademoiselle’s latest album, "Những Tiếng Hát Thầm," shows that the artist has matured as a composer and producer.

Most listeners came to know and learn of Mademoiselle through her 2016 debut single, 'Loanh Quanh.' One of her most popular releases, the song has attracted more than a million views on YouTube and 1.3 million listens on Spotify. Yet it wasn’t until 2020 when she had moved abroad that she announced the song’s official music video and remastered audio for her new album, "Những Tiếng Hát Thầm."

Shot in Australia, Loanh Quanh's music video features the flight of a single restless bird. Photo from the 'Loanh Quanh' MV.

The music video, a rather minimal production, focuses on a bird flying in a clear blue sky. Although the video was shot in Australia, the idea for the song came to Mademoiselle when she was in Vietnam, during an evening when she was “idly cycling around Hoàn Kiếm Lake, not wanting to go home.”

“Just as I finished my first lap around the lake, this line popped up in my head: 'Cũng mặt trời treo trên mây cao, sao mặt trời anh không mang nắng hạ?' (The same sun shines bright, but why don’t yours bring me summer light?) So I kept pedaling and used my phone to note or record anything that I could think of. The lyrics took months to finish because I kept going back to change it.” 'Loanh Quanh' is about one’s budding but unrequited romantic feelings as they fall in love with another person but can only watch them from afar. Mademoiselle’s calming vocals and light-hearted melody have made poetry out of melancholy, and deliver a soothing experience to listeners.

Although Mademoiselle tends to shy away from the spotlight, she made a special appearance in the music video for the song 'Thương' (Love), another single from her latest album. “I wrote this piece for my niece so I wanted to do the scenes myself. It would be weird if she had to watch some random person expressing their love for her,” she tells Saigoneer.

Most of the scenes in 'Thương' were done by Mademoiselle in sign language.

An interesting feature of the music video is that it was done entirely in sign language by Mademoiselle. She says of the creative decision: “Having learned sign language at the Hanoi Sign Language Training Center, I was determined to put it in my music video. The production was rushed so I had to spend an entire day going through the movements with my teacher and then crammed all of them the night before. The director was stringent about it too, so he made me do my scenes over and over again at double the speed. We ended up with a lot of bloopers.”

Mademoiselle’s heartfelt attempt was met with positive feedback from viewers, who said that they were deeply moved by the emotional melody and message of 'Thương,' which celebrates the special maternal bond between children and their mothers.

No more lullabies

After moving abroad, Mademoiselle frequently collaborates with Floyd Thursby, an Australian native, and continues to mesmerize fans with her signature buttery melodies and sweet voice. The singer had previously performed skillful renditions of English songs, some of which include 'Why Don't You Come?' 'Hillside’ and ‘Did I Make You Happy.’ In addition to English, Mademoiselle also speaks Spanish well. “I have started to write a few songs in this language, but perhaps because of my lack of confidence and understanding of the sentences and usage of words, all of them are still unfinished.” Perhaps, we might even see Latin-sounding pop songs in Mademoiselle’s discography one day.

“I want to put all of my musical creations into this metaphorical museum. Each album is going to be its own exhibit, and each exhibit is going to be musically distinct in terms of style, theme, and color. And so, there will be no more lullabies in my upcoming albums,” the singer said.

Mademoiselle will revamp herself on her next albums.

"After the first album will be the second, third and fourth album, and most likely there will be a fifth too. The second album is already in production and will be released in the first half of 2021. Right now I have enough songs for the third album and hope to finish the tracks for the fourth album next year," she excitedly shares her plans with us.

Will Mademoiselle’s gentle lullabies become more resonant in the years to come? Fans have every reason to hope so, now that the singer has a renewed focus on music.

[Photo by Hanoi Rock City and 282 courtesy of Mademoiselle]

Quãng 8, which means "octave" in Vietnamese, is a series of articles on Vietnam's new generation of unique music personalities. Know an interesting musician and want to introduce them to our readers? Send us an email via [email protected] with your ideas.

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