Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s New Album Addresses Vietnamese Heritage and the Trauma of War

Sound & Vision
Hosted by Emily Fox
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down released their fifth full length album, Temple, on May 15th. Frontwoman Thao Nguyen talks about how her latest album is about coming out to her Vietnamese family and processing her family’s story of war.
photo by Shane McCauley

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down released their fifth full length album, Temple, on May 15th. Frontwoman Thao Nguyen talks about how her latest album is about coming out to her Vietnamese family and processing her family’s story of war.

“It’s about the idea of existing as my full self and that full self is also acknowledging my heritage and who I come from and my culture,” Nguyen says.

Nguyen’s family fled the Vietnam war and came to the US in the 70s. Their story is addressed in the title track of the album, “Temple":

I lost my city in the light of day
Thick smoke
Helicopter blades
Heaven on earth I've never moved so fast
You'll never know the fear your mama has
I know your father can't call anymore
He never meant to be a man of war
But we found freedom what will you do now
Bury the burden baby make us proud

Nguyen’s father was a helicopter pilot for the south Vietnamese army and her mother worked for the south Vietnamese embassy. Nguyen says that’s “why they truly fled for their lives and they would have been at the very least forced into reeducation camps.”

Nguyen also discusses her powerful track, “Phenom," which addresses Asian American stereotypes and being a woman of color, with lyrics like “first of the secondary class” and “I’ve been so politely at the bottom.” She describes how she was able to make the music video for this song entirely on Zoom Meeting.

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