DJ and producer Maggie Tra released her second album, Very Vui, in August, putting her Vietnamese ancestry in the spotlight.
While “Vui” translates as “happy” in Vietnamese, Tra’s album isn’t afraid to explore more serious territory, exploring themes of abandonment and acceptance. Ultimately, though, it becomes a celebration of the Australian-born musician’s father’s home country.
“I was always a bit ashamed to say I had any percentage of Vietnamese in me as I didn’t have a great relationship with my father growing up,” Tra explains. “This album sees me accepting the abandonment, and allowing Vietnam to take me in with open arms. What I learnt was perhaps the reason Vietnam has been so giving to me might be because of my past, and it’s up to me to accept and change my story in order to embrace it.”
Moving and living in Vietnam certainly helped Tra bring her album to life, and little pockets of her heritage are spread throughout the album’s songs. On the title track, an album highlight, Tra uses vocals of her father’s recent time in Vietnam, accompanied by a burning dance beat and flashes of techno.
“Very Vui”, the track, is an attention grabber, Tra effortlessly reeling the listener in, carefully using her exquisite electronic sonic landscape to tell the story of her ancestry.
It’s a refreshing and authentic eye into another world. Inserting your own culture and story into your art is so important, as Tra clearly knows, as it pushes the connection with music forward, and also allows people to share new experiences, making live sets and concerts so much more enjoyable.
And community has always been hugely integral to Tra and her music, which has helped her to create such a self-reflective album with Very Vui.