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Conversations with Cecilian Dang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cecilian Dang.

Hi Cecilian, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
To start, my dad is an amazing Vietnamese singer, musician, and performer. So, music has always been there. I started singing on the karaoke machines we had growing up singing “Barbie Girl” and “Twinkle Little Star.” I hadn’t started any type of performance, however, until the seventh grade for our talent show. From there, I started singing at school events, shows, and musicals which were such great experiences to have had over the course of my school years. Crazy enough, I didn’t like writing for a long time and never saw the purpose in journaling because I grew up to be very stoic and dismissive of my internal and external problems. But, it was only until I got to New York for college that I understood vulnerability and what art looks like outside of institutional teachings. Fast forward to now, I’m storming up ideas for future releases and helping my friends with their projects and goals. I feel like I’m in my little chrysalis and enjoying the ride so that my art can truly speak to who I am and am becoming.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Definitely not a smooth road. Just because of how the world works– life can get in the way of creating art. My parents have been more than I could ever ask for despite being first-generation immigrants. But, the weight of financial insecurities has truly plagued my mind- because how can art make money? As much as anyone, I wish I could put money on the back burner and live a fulfilling life just making art and learning about the world. But, money seems to be the only way you can survive long enough on this earth to even make art. And that only added a layer to the preexisting thought in my head: “How does something that I make for myself rely on the demand and approval of others for me to have basic living?” It’s been a crippling thought that has actually made my music worse. So the closest thing I have to an answer is authenticity. Surround yourself with genuine friends and be open to life around you with sincerity. The struggle is thinking too much. To any and all creators and artists that have gone down the same rabbit hole, just keep it simple and make things for yourself point-blank, everything else will come.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a singer-songwriter. I’ve always been a singer first, but songwriting, music-making, and project building are what I have been loving to do more and more. I’m more known to be a singer, but I’m brainstorming a lot for releases of music, art, and events for these next couple of years. I’m not sure what I’d be most proud of just because my works haven’t reached their final form and evolution. But, it’s the work in progress and the strides that I’ve made to where I am that I feel like I’m most proud of anyway. This is kind of a hard question to answer from an introspective view, but I really do applaud myself for who I am. I want to say what sets me apart from others is my being and the energy that I bring to others. I am genuinely like no other I feel, and I hope that those who do know and love me can say the same.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
The app WordScapes is my favoriteeee. I started playing almost two years ago and I’m at level 1860. I love playing with the other grannies and I play it anytime I’m bored, anxious, with friends, songwriting — anything. I don’t listen to podcasts much but I will say Dissect is unworldly when he breaks down Frank Ocean or Tyler’s songs. Highly recommend. Shout out to my brother for telling me to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. He’s an aspiring film director, cinematographer, all that by the name of Uncreative Native, and those books he suggested to me guide me through life, to be honest. There are great, great reads, if you’re a creator please go read it!!

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Image Credits
Ryan Razon, Axel Kabundji, Osagievn, $avvy, Will Pippin, Safa Elzbir

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