The back of a person playing guitar with an audience in the background.

Thao Nguyen

Artist in Residence, 2018

Artist Statement

I am a songwriter, recording artist, and touring musician. My primary instruments are guitar, banjo, and mandolin, but I am an avid practitioner of fake-it-til-you-make-it with any instrument around. As a city dweller, it will be a remarkable gift to have all my instruments set up in a sound-proof space, ready to play. I’ve recently delved into beat production, and I experiment a lot with stringed instruments as percussive elements. I look forward to exploring experimental soundscape and composition. I am a music fan first, and my quest with every song is to capture and evoke life and feeling in the ways my favorite songs always have. My songs tend to juxtapose darker lyrical content with more beat-, hook-, and melody-forward instrumental composition. I love live performance, and I believe it vital to fully realizing the communicative effort of song.

While at Headlands

I will be making all the noise I can’t make in my apartment and continuing the songwriting, arrangement, preliminary recording and production for two albums. One album will be performed, recorded, and toured by myself and my full band in 2019. It will incorporate my recent expansions into beat-making and more experimental playing and composition. The other record I’m working on is a collection of songs based upon my parents’ Vietnamese refugee experience, as well as those of my extended family, and archived firsthand narratives of the Vietnamese diaspora community. This work is slated to be a collaborative effort with a music institution I’ve long admired and loved. I will write and perform the songs on stringed instruments within both the American and Vietnamese folk traditions. Of course, the first swath of my time at Headlands will be spent unpacking the car.

Selected Works

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Meticulous Bird

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, “Guts,” 2016

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, “Endless Love,” 2016

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, “Give Me Peace,” 2016

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, “Meticulous Bird,” 2016

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, “Fool Forever,” 2016