He saw her in the dining halls, and his heart was racing. Thump thump, the beat began. She gave him her number, he was thrilled, he texted her right away. He sat in desperate anticipation, staring at his clock. Tick tock, the beat quickened.
This is when Andy Vu Truong, the narrator and star of this dining hall drama, stepped into the spotlight and began his song.
“I got on stage with my guitar and loop pedal,” said Truong, a second-year physiological science student. “I was in a romantic mood, and I wanted the audience to feel my story in the music.”
On the night of May 12, using saltshaker rhythms, clock ticks and heartbeats as harmony, Truong created a rendition of the song “Sunday Morning” to win first place in the K-Fusion Talent Show. Truong performed in front of an audience from all across Los Angeles in this show, which was aimed at inspiring creativity among local youth.
Truong will have his biggest performance yet on Saturday at the TZ All-Star Showcase. This show, held at the Icon La Ultra Lounge, will feature the young talents of Truong’s agency, TZ Entertainment. Truong will open for this event, which will be hosted by Koreatown rapper Dumbfoundead, another star who began his rise through YouTube.
Equipped with his guitar and loop pedal, Truong has attained local and online fame for live performances and a series of YouTube covers of pop songs such as “Payphone” by Maroon 5, and “Bad Religion” by Frank Ocean.
While his Youtube covers primarily showcase his vocals and musical skills, the stage highlights a side of Truong only seen live.
“I’m definitely more comfortable on stage than on camera,” Truong said. “I love the energy of the crowd. Even when I make a mistake, I can laugh it off and keep the crowd entertained.”
On stage, Truong incorporates jokes, stories and sound effects to bring his performances closer to the audience. The dining hall drama is just one instance of creative depth Truong adds to his music to make it more than a familiar song.
“Andy is really big on interacting with the crowd,” said second-year business economics student Nick Lerman, Truong’s manager. “He doesn’t just want to perform. He wants people to feel he’s a friend, and share a whole story.”
Although known primarily as an acoustic artist, Truong’s identity as an entertainer is symbolized by his signature instrument, a loop pedal, which he uses to add layers to his music. The loop pedal is a device which can record and loop different samples. Using this device, he beatboxes, plays keyboard, creates drumbeats and captures it all to loop it into one harmony.
Music has weaved in and out of Truong’s life in different forms, helping develop his style. After giving up classical piano lessons at a young age, Truong picked it up again after discovering other styles such as pop, blues and jazz. These styles inspired him to teach himself drums and guitar.
Attending UCLA provided new avenues for Truong to perform and entertain, and a larger audience as well. As a first-year, Truong decided to take a break from music and explore another performance art and joined the VSU Modern dance team. It was here that Truong met Lerman, the team DJ and Truong’s future manager.
Truong’s talent inspired Lerman to cofound TZ Entertainment Agency, a collection of independent Los Angeles-based artists looking to enter the music industry by means of social media. Lerman immediately signed Truong to his agency, and helped him gain a new online following, by releasing a series of YouTube covers of popular songs in Truong’s own jazzy style.
As part of TZ Entertainment, Truong has expanded his interest in music from a hobby to something much more.
“Before college I always thought I was good. I was stuck in my own bubble. But in college, I put myself out there,” Truong said. “I’m getting my first real exposure to criticism.”
Once every so often, Truong and Lerman can be seen on Bruin Walk, performing for those that pass by. These kinds of performances are where Truong gets feedback, advice and even some unusual encouragement from fellow Bruins.
“Once when we were playing by the Bruin Bear stage, Andy drew a small crowd,” Lerman said. “After finishing his song, a girl just walked up and gave him her number, just like that.”
As Truong looks forward to bigger venues and bigger shows as part of TZ Entertainment, his fan base continues to grow.
“Andy is a creator, he’s developed his own style of singing,” said second-year undeclared student Nerris Nassiri, who has often performed alongside Truong. “When he walks on the stage, the crowd is prepared for a show.”