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“We paid a price for this music...”


The Economist, present at Mai Khoi´s "secret" launch for her new album “DISSENT” in Hanoi in February,  published yesterday their review of the release:

- If music alone could break chains, this would be the music to do it...


In late February, before the Vietnamese celebrity artist and activist left Hanoi for Oslo, Prague, Stockholm and Helsinki, she organized a "secret" launch of her new album “DISSENT – Live at Phù sa Lab” (LIDIO) - at the studio where recordings had been going on. The Economist reports from this 'secret' Hanoi launch:


- Representatives from the American embassy and other members of the diplomatic corps rubbed shoulders with activists, musicians, artists and a small but excitable handful of journalists. Foreigners and Vietnamese alike, they were there to witness the launch of “Dissent”, Mai Khoi’s aptly and bluntly-titled new album. Many wondered aloud whether the police, too, may make an appearance. The Economist continues:

- Her voice runs the gamut from whispered intrigue to full-bodied yearning. Her saxophonist channels John Coltrane at his most untethered, his most desperate. The music is designed to, and does, have a physical effect, hitting not one but several nerves. It aims to assault, unafraid to be difficult or jarring or ugly. If music alone could break chains, this would be the music to do it.

- During the production of “Dissent”, Mai Khoi’s producer was fined on dubious grounds. Her saxophonist was told by his father that the family would disown him if he continued to work with her. A number of personal friendships ended on political grounds. “We paid a price for this music,” she says.

(Read the full review.)


Detained for eight hours

When going back to Vietnam from her European round trip - including the album launch and Music Freedom Day appearance in Oslo, partaking in the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague, the Freemuse launch of The State Of Artistic Freedom 2018 report at Swedish PEN in Stockholm, and finally being a residence artist at AR-Safe Haven Helsinki - she was detained and held for eight hours at the Hanoi airport, and copies of “Dissent” were confiscated.

Reuters reports

“When Mai Khoi landed at Noi Bai airport, at 9:15 am this morning, she texted me to say: ‘Love, I just landed’,” Mai Khoi’s Australian husband, Benjamin Swanton, posted on her Facebook page, which has some 46,000 followers.

Mai Khoi updated her Facebook page later in the day to say that she has been released after eight hours.“Thank you everyone for your care. I’m now on a public bus back to Hanoi,” Khoi said alongside a photo of herself she posted to the page.


The detention at Hanoi Airport 27 March got major attention in international media. In addition to Reuters, both BBC, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal,, the NRK and deVolkstant made reports.


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