Thanh hao Bui is a musician, managing director of SOUL Corporation và founder of Embassy Education. His passion for music led hyên to early successes such as being part of Australian boy bvà North and becoming an Australian Idol finadanh sách. Bui is also an international composer và has written songs for BTS, Arashi and TVXQ. Thanh khô Bui now lives in Ho Chi Minch City, where he is building a creative ecosystem & helping lớn nurture the next generation of Vietnamese creative talent.

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AP: Can you tell us about your family và what it was lượt thích growing up in Australia?

TB: We had nothing when we first came to nước Australia. We knew little English và had brought little with us. We had khổng lồ be resourceful and my parents were relentless in the pursuit of a better life và were willing to die for it. I learnt a lot about resilience from my parents.

My family worked on a farm in Adelaide, my mum và dad first picked potatoes. Then we built a greenhouse & grew cucumbers, but in one season we lost everything because of a massive sầu dew. But we had one lucky break. We didn’t have sầu money, my parents needed a loan lớn get some sewing machines. A random stranger overheard our story at a bank & this stranger became our guarantor so that my parents can get that loan.

My whole family sewed. We were like a family sweatcửa hàng. At trang chủ, we had sewing machines. One stitch, double stitch, all the stitches. 

All the kids had lớn vì chưng it, we had to lớn survive sầu. I’d get paid one cent for each pocket sewn. I used lớn sit there with my older brother, we would vì chưng the pattern & would stitch the pattern bachồng on. The goal was lớn get to one hundred pockets. If I sewed one hundred pockets, I’d get a dollar. With that one dollar baông chồng then, you could buy a hundred jelly beans or twenty-five apricot drops.

But that bank moment, it changed our whole life. We were able khổng lồ move to Melbourne và paved a new chapter in our lives.

AP: What was your passion or dream as a child?

TB: I loved nothing more than lớn make music. I started singing when I was five years old. The school in Reservoir, Victoria, allowed everyone that option to lớn learn music. They gave sầu me a recorder, và I had access khổng lồ a free guitar. There were a lot of Italians attending this school. Italians like to lớn sing và laugh. I found them to lớn be very artistically-minded. I remember singing in classes all the time. 

We had an audition, I got picked up somehow by the Victorian Boys Choir. I was one of the two chosen in our school, I had no idea why they chose me. The other was another Italian girl who got picked too. We got khổng lồ perform in Melbourne & I loved the experience so much. After that, my parents put me into a junior talent school called “Johnny Young Talent School”. They had students like Kylie Minogue và Anthony Callea. 

At the talent school, I learnt all sorts of things like singing, nhảy, jazz & ballet. I also learned a bit of acting and group performance.

I don’t think you know something if you are not exposed to lớn creative arts. I was fortunate that I was exposed to classical music and singing và was lucky enough to love it. That kind of exposure and calibre allowed me to lớn grow as a performer.


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AP: Were your parents against you pursuing music? 

TB: My parents were traditional, they wanted me to pursue the pathway of stability.

My father is a particularly superstitious person, he dreamt about me và a music memo. This dream allowed me khổng lồ gain access to lớn learning music. Still, I rethành viên my mother telling me “You’re an Asian kid, what makes you think you can be an artist or musician? Because I don’t see anyone that’s Asian in the whole world who is successful. So, what makes you think you can be successful?”

This was my reality. This was also during a time when we saw very few Asian actors on the Australian screen.

My parents actually wanted me lớn be a doctor or lawyer, whereas I always wanted lớn be a musician which was way off what they wanted me khổng lồ be. In many ways, I had to fight for my dreams. I had to prove sầu lớn them và to everyone that I can vị it & be successful at it. While it wasn’t an easy pathway, it has definitely shaped me and allowed me to lớn challenge the status quo.

They never thought this was something I wanted to actually pursue. They never saw the arts as a job. They wanted their kids khổng lồ have stability. Their life was unstable & the trauma of the Vietphái nam War added to it. As their child, I absolutely get it & I appreciate what they have sầu done for me. Still, they instilled in me the ability to lớn fight for my own beliefs. They fought to lớn survive & I fought for my passion.

Around the time I was 19 or đôi mươi, I got all my money together và bought my first little studio. I bought a compressor, amplifier, some speakers & a computer và started recording MY music.

I even phối up a side business in my little studio and taught singing. My parents didn’t really want to lớn support me in my career choice. I had khổng lồ vì chưng this myself. They would tell me “Go & vì it yourself, we’re not going khổng lồ support you.”

They thought I would give up after three days và come baông xã trang chủ. I didn’t end up coming home page for another eight years.

AP: So what happened next while you were at university? Tell us about your experience of being part of the boy b&, North?

TB: I went lớn Swinburne University lớn study a Bachelor of Business Information Technology. During that time, I was part of “North”, a boy bvà. I would study in the morning, & later I’d be writing music và practising.

It was mid-to-late tipping curve of boy bands. There were Five sầu và Backstreet Boys. North was known for its pop music. We found success in South-East Asia và had three Number 1’s in Asia. We performed on stage with Ashlee Simpson và Jay Chou. We toured around Asia & sold a number of records, not enough, but tens and thousands of records. We had an amazing time. It was a highlight, as I had the chance lớn explore và grow up. North was together for two good years.

“Being exposed to lớn this from a young age, I felt fortunate khổng lồ find a pathway lớn music. I love sầu music.”
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AP: Tell us about your journey after North and before relocating baông chồng khổng lồ Vietnam?

TB: After Australian Idol, pockets of the Vietnamese community came out, I received calls, emails and messages from everywhere in the world. Post-Vietnam-War, Vietnamese found refuge in America, UK, Scandinavia & around Europe. I had enormous tư vấn for doing and representing the arts. I went và lịch sự in Paris By Night (PBN is a prominent overseas Vietnamese entertainment show) in 2006, and I thanh lịch Vietnamese for the first time there. It was such a different & surreal experience. I sang and performed “Mirror Mirror”. The performance went viral và became a hit tuy vậy. It then led me to lớn Vietphái nam.

I went khổng lồ Vietnam giới with an open heart & mind. It was my first time there as an adult. I ended up connecting with who I am & found a purpose.

AP: Sounds lượt thích you went on a journey to find yourself.

TB: Absolutely. I lived my whole life growing in nước Australia & felt a sense of duality, a struggle even. From the moment I stepped out of the house, I felt Aussie. The moment I step inside my house, I was Vietnamese.

“It felt like I had two cultures fighting inside my toàn thân. I didn’t fully understand who I was. It was only when I went to Vietnam giới did I found my identity.”

I was 28 years old when I visited Vietphái mạnh. I retraced the steps of my father & mother. I went bachồng khổng lồ my father’s place of origin. He lived on a mud floor. I went lớn my mother’s city of origin, Binch Thuan. I went down khổng lồ the coast where my parent left on the boat. I’ve sầu got goosebumps right now thinking about it. At that moment, I went “wow”, this is my country. Sure, nước Australia is my country, but Vietnam giới is also my country. I came baông xã to lớn Vietnam giới khổng lồ come lớn terms of being Vietnamese.

I Gọi it reconciliation. I reconciled inside & came lớn terms with my western side. I went from 180 west, then 180 degrees west. A complete 360 of who I am today.

AP: Tell us about your journey starting The Soul Music and Performing Arts Academy và your experience in Vietnam.

TB: It took me about seven months from idea khổng lồ start executing the Soul Music & Performing Arts Academy. 

There’s no straight line in Vietphái mạnh, whereas nước Australia is a straight line. All the rules are in place, everything is in a regimented and controlled environment. Vietnam giới isn’t. What we think are the rules in the West may not be necessary or contextualised in Vietnam. It’s not wrong or right. It’s just very different. The biggest challenges are the cultural nuances & understanding the Vietnamese mentality and psybịt. Through this process. I’ve learned what it means to lớn be the innovator.

Seven years later, SOUL continues to help parents & children about creativity & creative sầu arts.



AP: What are you currently working on now in Vietnam?

TB: I am currently building infrastructure và the root cấp độ of infrastructure in education.

We are building schools & programs, that will help put Vietnam giới on the bản đồ. Creativity is the future. We have to lớn chia sẻ & educate parents that creativity is the future. When artificial intelligence takes over and it is already within our industries. The difference between us as humans và AI is our ability to lớn be creative. We have sầu lớn create new jobs in the future that don’t exist today. 70% of today’s job won’t survive. I think that once we build this creative sầu industry, we build a different kind of thinking that will solve the problems of today.

For change khổng lồ happen, we have khổng lồ be patient. It’s understanding that we have sầu to put one step at a time và having good people together with you. It’s developing thinking that creativity should be put at the centre and not on the peripheral.

“Vietnamese parents need to understand that kids can earn a living doing The Arts. There’s a mentality and misconception that if you’re a dancer, you’re a street kid, that’ you’re a nobody toàn thân.”AP: So what is your vision for Vietphái nam và creativity?

TB: For the next generation lớn have sầu a vision of creating. For modern Vietphái mạnh khổng lồ understvà its position in the world. Where we can start to develop leaders that stand on the international stage. Where we contribute khổng lồ all matters. Where the moment you mention “Vietnam”, Vietnamese will know who they are và where they’ve come from & their history.

We’re putting the Arts at the centre of every child. We are redefining the question of “what does it mean khổng lồ be human?”

For example, take a bellboy whose job all day is to just open the door for a five-star customer at a khách sạn. I truly vị not believe sầu that a kid was born into this world lớn open a door for a person. If we can automate that, then there are more options for people lớn think about what they can vì. What kind of values can we give sầu our next generation, so they can navigate their way through uncertainty?

We need to lớn build industries that will give opportunities khổng lồ young people. In Vietnam giới, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. How vị we change that? How vị we democratise education so more people can have access khổng lồ knowledge? How vì chưng we cốt truyện music or knowledge in real-time? We established “Billboards Vietnam”, a platform for Vietnamese artists lớn connect with the world.

We can’t predict what’s going to happen in the next 20 or 100 years. But, we can give our kids the creative sầu tools to lớn prepare for this future.

“If you live sầu in Vietphái mạnh, survive sầu in Vietphái mạnh, & thrive sầu in Vietphái nam. You can live và survive sầu anywhere on Earth.”AP: What allowed you khổng lồ push outside your comfort zone?

TB: Travel gets you out of your comfort zone. Do things you’ve never done before. You live only once và I know it sounds so all cliche but there is a reason why it’s a clibịt because it’s actually true. I think being comfortable is so dangerous. It makes us complacent. I can only speak for myself và my experience.

But for all Vietnamese and Australians throughout the world, what I’d encourage them khổng lồ come back lớn our motherl&, come back khổng lồ our motherl& and see what you can vị to contribute khổng lồ her. Because, I think whether you like it or not, the blood that runs through you is Vietnamese.

And, connect with that & I think you’ll have an experience that will make your life more holistic và more- and just more purposeful I think.

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AP: What advice can you give sầu to other young Asian Pioneers?

TB: Be multi-disciplinary. Imagine a world, where every artist had a bit of business mindmix and every business person had a bit of an artistic heart. Can you imagine if Trump could play Mozart? The world would be different. Look at the Einsteins of the world và you look at the Da Vincis, you will find people that will push humanity forward. They are multidisciplinary. 

Einstein is an incredible scientist and he was a wonderful musician too. Leonarvì Da Vinci was a painter, an inventor, và a Renaissance man. We need lớn be telling that lớn our children, khổng lồ this generation and to lớn the older generation. Be creative. Be multi-disciplinary. 

AP: And your plans for 2019?

TB: To continue on the pathway of building infrastructure for the arts, both on the industrial cấp độ và also on the global level. I also plan lớn return lớn music this year. I want lớn get baông xã inkhổng lồ my music & release some songs. And get back khổng lồ the international & global scene.

AP: It’s been a pleasure chatting to you, Tkhô cứng. Thank you so much for your time & knowledge.