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Project: ILL.est 1996

Challenge: Release a self-produced mixtape that experiments with the mixture of different music genres. The name for this project ILL.est 1996 (short for Illinois Established 1996) is a play on words that represent my edgy beat-heavy music style while not forgetting about my humble roots as a young girl born/raised/established in Illinois since 1996.

Contribution + Process: Produce tracks, design cover art, share on SoundCloud

Softwares Used: GarageBand, Canva

Deliverable + Impact: Full mixtape released on SoundCloud and currently has +400 listens

Takeaway: You don’t need to have formal tutelage to create quality work. There’s beauty in making art during spontaneous bursts of creativity. Fun fact: I created the first track of this mixtape during a power outage when I didn't have access to Internet and was playing around with GarageBand for the first time on my new laptop.

To listen to my other music tracks, visit my SoundCloud.

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Team: Múa Lạc Hồng (Stanford Vietnamese dance team)

Challenge: Choreograph and teach original dances that merge traditional and contemporary Vietnamese music with various props to share an appreciation for Vietnamese culture both on and off Stanford campus.

Contribution + Process: Select and mix music set, choreograph dance, lead weekly practices, perform on and off Stanford campus

Software Used: Logic Pro (for mixing music)

Deliverable + Impact: Choreographed +10  pieces. Team won 2nd place at San Jose Tết Festival 2016 (one of my choreographed pieces was part of that dance set)

Takeaway: Joining this dance team, I was hoping to stay connected to my Vietnamese roots and find a creative outlet that would let me express my narratives as a young Vietnamese American woman. It’s been such a rewarding and powerful experience to achieve these goals alongside my dance team whom I consider my fan-mily away from home. 

To view my other dance performances, check out my dance playlist. Note: Behind the Scenes video was filmed and edited by Niki Saelou.


Project: Solo Singing Covers

Challenge: To pursue my passion for singing without being affiliated with any particular group—this meant taking initiative and planning and executing projects from start to finish on my own. 

Contribution + Process: Record singing, mix audio, design cover art, produce lyrics videos (only some), share on SoundCloud and YouTube, add English subtitles if needed (only on YouTube videos)

Softwares Used: GarageBand, Canva

Deliverable + Impact: Covers released on SoundCloud and Youtube currently has combined +1000 listens/views. Was featured on the radio as part of KZSUx InConcert Stanford Artist Showcase (my segment is 27:15 - 36:43). 

Takeaway: Singing has such been a healing and nurturing activity that has helped keep me grounded. I realize how I struggle with taking up space and being in the spotlight in certain settings because of my insecurities, but that all changes when I'm singing and performing. I display vulnerability not only in the way I portray the emotions of the song, but also by sharing my covers with the public. 

To view my other covers and singing performances, check out my singing playlist.


Song: to. ice bear (co-written and performed with Niki Saelou who was on guitar)

Challenge: Create and serenade an original song to show our appreciation for our close friend on his birthday.

Contribution + Process: Create melody, co-write lyrics, sing 

Software Used: iPhone (for recording audio), iMovie (lyric video)

Deliverable + Impact: 2 minute song that received a heartfelt reaction from the birthday boy, lyric video was created by Niki Saelou

Takeaway: It’s important to stick to your intuition and go with the flow when it comes to channeling an innate skill. In this case, I allowed myself to just hum whatever melody came to mind (we actually went with the first take!). Counting all of the actual hours we spent on creating this song, it took about half a day. The process was so fast since we let our creative juices flow with no restrictions, just trusting in the message we wanted to tell and what sounded right to our ears.

to. ice bear (ㄴㄹ)
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