'Pho'nomenal: MC Tu Pham On Music And Messages

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'Pho'nomenal in Brisbane will showcase the best arts content that Vietnam has to offer.

It features film screenings, Q&As with creatives, Vpop performances and fashion.

Medical doctor and hip hop musician MC Tu Pham answers some questions about his music, his message and his excitement of playing 'Pho'nomenal.

Recently you put out a track called 'Donald Trump's America' ("like 'The Hangover 3' it isn't funny anymore".. great lyric)… Why did you feel compelled to put this out?
I felt compelled to release the track 'Donald Trump’s America' because I wanted to highlight the several problems with Trump’s candidacy that were minimised or brushed aside by the media coverage of his campaign (which I felt they did in an attempt to create an atmosphere of suspense and breed false equivalence). I wanted to produce meaningful art at a time when many people were lost and angry and getting into (often) counterproductive arguments. I also wanted to understand the mentality of those who were let down by the system and who made a protest vote, and I wanted to discuss ways that citizens could react in a constructive way to the election outcome.

You're known for putting out music about your heritage and public health issues. Where did the inspiration to write about these things come from?
I was inspired by artists like 2Pac, Public Enemy and Kendrick Lamar, who made music about issues affecting their own communities in America. However, it would’ve sounded contrived if I tried to make music about someone else’s community, so I made music about issues closer to home for me. That way, I could make music which was still fresh but also relevant to my lived experience.

You work at Headspace and you're also a medical doctor on top of writing and performing music. Where do you find the balance?
Finding the balance will always be difficult. One factor in my favour is that if I enjoy the process of making music, then it feels less like work.

What are you looking forward to about being part of 'Pho'nomenal?
I’m looking forward to the networking opportunities and seeing other artists represent Vietnamese culture.

Why do you think BrisAsia and 'Pho'nomenal are a good idea for Brisbane?
With time, Brisbane has taken more initiative in celebrating its diversity, and making the most of what its local communities can offer to the rest of the city. BrisAsia and ‘Pho’nomenal are part of that movement.

BrisAsia's 'Pho'nomenal takes place at Metro Arts from 17-19 February.

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