Mai Khoi & The Dissidents

In a soundscape where so many groups look and sound the same, Mai Khoi and the Dissidents offer something you have never heard before. Mai Khoi & the Dissidents is a cathartic venting born out of creative protest, the defiant Hanoi-based experimental group is as bold sonically as they are politically. Weaving eastern woodwinds through western brass layered over dissonant guitar, with Mai Khoi’s voice instantly recognisable for its angelic qualities.

 Effectively banned from performing in Vietnam, the defiant Hanoi-based experimental group is a rarity in a country that continues to enforce strict censorship and jail people for peaceful political expression. Melodic and lyrical themes are diverse, reflecting the emotional variation –from innocent and ironic to ominous and introspective- of the artist’s sophisticated compositions. In a soundscape where so many groups look and sound the same, Mai Khoi and the Dissidents offer something you have never heard before.

Upcoming album - Cuffed in Freedom
Cuffed in Freedom is both autobiographical and a social commentary in that it charts the artist’s moment of political awakening and personal transition from outlandish celebrity (dubbed the Vietnamese Lady Gaga by local media) to dedicated song writer and social activist. Mai Khoi composed We Want, Our Voice, Please Sir, and Cuffed in Freedom whilst under constant police surveillance after she became the first Vietnamese celebrity to nominate herself for the National Assembly (parliament) on a pro-democracy platform. This campaign culminated in a closed-door meeting with President Obama (as well as John Kerry and Susan Rice) when he visited Vietnam in May 2016. Several activists who were invited to the meeting were detained by the police and prevented from attending.

Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese pop star, singer and musician. She has been playing music since she was 12 when she was the pianist in a wedding band with her father, a music teacher, in the coastal city of Nha Trang. Drawing on a wide variety of influences, from traditional Vietnamese folk to blues, soul and rock, Mai Khoi seamlessly blends disparate styles, melodies, song structures and rhythms. In 2010, Mai Khoi won Vietnam Television Song and Album of the Year awards, the highest awards for song writing in the country. For more on Mai Khoi see

Quyen Thien Dac
Quyen Thien Dac is one of Vietnam’s top brass musicians. Dac learnt sax from his father, Quyen Van Minh, owner of the first jazz club in Hanoi after the war. Dac graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and completed his Master in Jazz at The University of Sweden. Dac forges an original and complex sound by blending jazz with traditional Vietnamese timbre with the baritone and soprano and alto saxophones. Dac is currently involved in many musical projects including the touring Vietnamese bamboo-themed circus Lang Toi.

Nguyen Duc Minh
Minh is a versatile multi-instrumentalist proficient in the zither, koto, lyre, pipa, bamboo flutes, and percussion. Minh is known for his propensity to weave hypnotic riffs around evolving melodies, articulating a diverse range of complex emotions from ecstatic joys to abject dejection. Minh has previously toured the United States as part of a competitive US State Department awarded tour.

Mai Khoi & The Dissidents also perform on the Music Stage on Sunday 12th at March 5pm - 5:45pm