We’re exploring the many hues of our dapper Hommes Cover Star, Denis Dang who’s remarkably honing his craft.
Starring: Denis Dang @imdenisdang
Art Director: Kye Nguyen @kye.nguyen
Photo: Nguyen Anh Hao
Stylist: KYE AGENCY @kye.agency
Makeup: Hoa Tran
Hairstylist: Nguyen Dung
Set Design: Nina Nguyen
Making an indelible impression for his performances, our Hommes Cover Star for the April issue, Denis Dang readies himself for short films. Steadily gaining recognition for his work, he is a star who has only continued to rise. His immense love for music and being a creative director seems to be an artistic match made in heaven! With having a covetable free spirit and his mere presence he can evoke strong emotions. This is a conversation you just can’t miss! Read ahead and catch everything from his achievement closest to heart to the difficulties he faced as a Creative Director.
Hi Denis! Welcome to L’Officiel, tell us about your thought process while picking your career –who was your inspiration?
To be honest, it was quite a journey. I came from a small province, and my routes at that time were far different from the ‘creative director’. I worked as an internal auditor at a company for a year and called it quits. It took me a year doing absolutely nothing but reflecting on myself. Then I started to do things I wanted to do that kept me feeling alive. The time ‘Ghen’ released, the first music video I got credit for as a creative director, was also when I acknowledged that this is the path I wanna pursue. So, it was not like ‘picking a career’ because, at that time, the creative director was not really a thing in Vietnam, but it was about staying close to what I wanted to do and growing from there. About inspiration, Baz Luhrmann is the one I always look up to. I loved The Great Gatsby, and Baz is known as an ‘auteur’ for his style and deep involvement in everything from writing, directing, and design to the musical components of all his work, and that is what I’m heading to be. Filmmaking is my dream, and I’m making it a reality this year.
What’s one thing many people don’t know about you?
This is a bit odd to share, but I actually have a bad sleeping habit. I usually take up quite a large area and struggle all over the bed, so I can almost only sleep alone because only a few people can stand my sleeping habit. (laugh)
Tell us some secrets of being a successful creative director.
The first thing in creative work is to arouse curiosity in the audience, to attract and amaze people. And to do that, I always make people guessing about my next move. Another thing is to talk less and do more. I always believe a good idea or concept is just a solid launch pad. What is significant, lies in the process of making that concept a reality. So, I always try my best in every single detail, from the scenes, outfits, the meaning behind it, everything.
What has been the strongest influence on your life and career so far?
Music! I have always been a huge art lover, from architecture to fashion. But music is like a guideline for my career. If it was not for music, I would not realize in the first place that I wanna do the things that I’m now doing.
How do you manage to stay on top of everything? How do you organize your schedule so nothing gets left out?
This has to come from hard work and discipline. Even in my busiest schedule, I always spend time working out every morning, for instance. However, it is optional to be too rigid all the I do creative work, so in addition to working hard all the time, I still have to find new sources of inspiration constantly; whether it’s updating new music, new movies, or travelling, I always try to create more time. In short, balance is the key; know when to be disciplined and when to pamper yourself a little.
You have been in this industry for quite some time now, what’s the one thing that you wished that someone would’ve told you when you were starting your career?
When starting my career, I did not have much faith in myself. It was a tough road, and now looking back, I wish someone had told me I could make it here today. My grandma was the one who stood by me in everything that I did. She passed a few years ago and didn’t get to see me flourish. If I get to see her now, I would tell her that I made it, or maybe I don’t even have to, but she could see it herself. If so, my life will be more complete. But I like to believe she can see this somehow and is proud of me from above; that gives me the strength to do what I do now.
What were some of the difficulties you faced as a Creative Director at the initial stages of your career?
At the beginning of my career, the most challenging thing must have been that I was an amateur; I had to learn a lot quickly and widely on my own. I realized what I wanted to do pretty late; although it is a disadvantage, it helps me focus more on absorbing new knowledge selectively. Convincing others was also difficult in my first steps into this profession. But looking back at all these hardships now, it’s all worth it.
What is the one achievement you feel the proudest of? And why is it so close to your heart?
Honestly, I’m a person who always tries not to think about the artworks I like the most or am most proud of because I always want to believe that on the road ahead, I will try even harder and get better. I never want to stand still. But the artwork that has helped me have a breakthrough is Tu Tam, which I want to mention in this interview. This music video has allowed my name Denis Dang to go beyond the border of Vietnam. I will always keep a space in my heart for this project cause this one brings me closer to the audience and my fanbase, Lighter Stars. This is also an important stepping stone and motivation for me to always try my best to deserve the love from supporters and fans.
Are there any projects in the pipeline that you’d like to share with us? Please shed some light on some of those.
I have exciting news for you guys. I’m working on a short film project and will try to finish it this year to share it with everyone. This year, my primary focus is to exploit all aspects of Vietnamese culture, where I was born and raised, and this short film project is no exception. I’m more than thrilled with this project and I cannot wait to share it with you guys!
We’ve had a great conversation so far, Denis. But now we come to the question of our readers wait the most for: do you have any message for our readers?
Throughout my journey, my biggest lesson is that you need to have faith in yourself. At some point in life, you only have yourself to get through all the hard times. There should be no space for doubts, and keep on pushing yourself. Beautiful things will come, I know. And another thing I want to tell you, be creative. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but it starts with seeing everything from a different point of view. Sometimes stimulating creativity is simply getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual to watch the sunrise or going to another coffee shop you usually stop by. A slight change the entire day, and you will just realize how much you have grown out of yourself.