With a voice as sweet as cherry pie, Thao Nguyen lilts and sighs her way through songs in a way that makes you instantly fall in love with her. Along with her band, The Get Down Stay Down, the Virginia native produced perhaps the most enchanting album of 2008; We Brave Bee Stings and All.
“I started playing guitar when I was 12,” she says, “I was writing stupid songs about crushes — I’m still writing essentially the same thing…”
Thao (rhymes with ‘wow’) recorded 2005’s Like the Linen while still at university earning her degree in Women’s Studies. For such an independent woman, what’s it like being the only girl on the tour bus?
“It’s actually great, they are the three most sensitive men in the world,” Really? “Well…mostly we get on really well, but if I’m cranky they make jokes, but it’s fine really, I make a lot dirtier jokes than them anyway.”
Sounding like Cat Power in cowboy boots, Thao’s lyrics are at once naïve and world-weary. Her live shows are a dreamy, laid-back affair, but she has recently learned not to be too laid back.
Thao is not afraid to write autobiographically. Her songs travel the well-trodden path of falling in and out of love, but her clever metaphors, captivating melodies and the way her voice breaks make her sound like the first person ever to have had their heart broken.
Thao and her band will be coming to the UK this month for a full national tour. “I’m a big fan of the UK,” she says, “I studied in London while I was at university — it’s a great place.”
In total, Thao plans to be on tour for the whole year, but says she needs breaks in between. “I do enjoy touring, but it gets to a point where you just wanna eat some fresh vegetables and sleep for more than four hours at a time,” she laughs.
We Brave Bee Stings and All was out on the 4 February 2008 on Kill Rock Stars.