May 02 2012
I’ve written before about how the live music scene in Hanoi has improved since my arrival here in 2010: new venues, active promoters and high profile events have helped with this growth, not to mention more and more local and expat musicians wanting to share their talents with the masses.
One such artist is Zippy. Zippy, originally from Canada, arrived in Hanoi in June 2011 and quickly made her name on the music scene due to her idiosyncratic lyrics, her abilities on a ukelele and her stand-out personality and style. I caught up with her to hear more about this self-professed “slightly off-balance” entertainer.
As I pondered over what my first question should be, my boyfriend, tongue-in-cheek, suggested “How tall is she?” She’s about 167cm, in case you were interested. She’s also dating Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds, although, “They don’t know it yet”. This perhaps gives you a sense of her quirky personality.
Zippy came to Hanoi with a job — she teaches drama at one of the international schools — but also “wanted to be able to say: ‘This one time in Nam…'”. I asked her how long it took her to break into the music scene here: “I started straight away. I don’t wait to do anything. About two weeks after I arrived there was a New Hanoian event at 21 N club, and I asked about playing there and they said ‘come play next weekend’.” After that she got to know the guys at Hanoi Rock City and plays there regularly, as well as playing gigs at Puku and other venues around town.
“The music scene here is really cool,” she says. “It’s not competitive: no-one fights for the venues as there are enough venues and enough opportunity for everyone. And there are lots of new people creating lots of new things.”
Zippy has high regard for the other acts in Hanoi, and in particular recommends checking out Brendan McGibbon (“an excellent musician”), Go Lim (“they’re some of the nicest people”) and Machete.Sex.Mix. Keep an eye out for gigs on The New Hanoian and HRC websites.
One question Zippy pondered over was how to describe her music. “How would you describe it?” she asked me. Ummmm… She continued: “It’s no particular style really. Each song comes from a place in my heart and in my mind and then comes out of my ukelele.” I asked where her inspiration comes from and she told me that she simply writes music for people, mostly. “I hear something someone says and then write a bit of a song about it and then play that to someone and ask what it makes them think of and then that becomes the theme of the song. They’re about people, memories and confusion — I like to play with cliches too.”
What kind of words would a song about Hanoi have in it? “Map, perplexed, wary, chaotic, happy, buzzing,” she says, explaining that Hanoi is “kind of like a video game”. “Every day you’re driving and praying you’ll survive. But also, like in Mario, something magical will appear, and then it will disappear again and something else will appear.”
Read more about Zippy and listen to some of her tunes on her website. Or keep an eye out on The New Hanoian for gigs.
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