Stevie Hoang

R&B Producer-Artist

Some numbers: 15.5 million plays on Myspace; 1.2 million YouTube views for the ‘video’ for a song (Addicted) that was just a black screen; 65,000 albums sold in Japan; a Number One airplay single in Japan, All Night Long; in the UK, 3000 albums shifted, sold by the artist himself (literally)…

Stevie Hoang – Essex-based 24-year-old DIY R&B producer-artist extraordinaire – has achieved all of the above. Working out of his bedroom, and his own song-spinning imagination, he has already crafted upwards of 50 songs. Via Myspace, YouTube and an entrepreneurial flair that saw him strike international record deals before any UK label had a clue who he was, Hoang has already topped the Myspace chart in the US and released two albums in Japan – where, after repeated trips to Tokyo, he’s a major star on the Japanese charts and club scene.

Courtesy of his heritage (he was born in the UK to Chinese parents from Vietnam) and his way with a sublime ballad and insistent groove, he’s been hailed as ‘the Chinese Ne-Yo’. We can just call him the hottest, most ambitious underground R&B star the UK has ever produced. And, newly signed to Mercury in the UK, he’s about to go overground.

‘I was more into video games and kung-fu movies,’ recalls Stevie Hoang of his early passions. Born in Birmingham and growing up in east London, ‘music was more something on the side’. But when he was 11 his auntie bought his sister a keyboard. ‘I just started fiddling about with it. My parents saw that I was picking stuff up naturally, playing songs I heard on the TV and radio. So that’s when they bought me a bigger keyboard and made me take piano lessons. I kinda developed from there.’

He took an A-level in music technology at sixth form college and, in a year out prior to going to university, worked in the Funland arcade in the Trocadero centre in London’s West End. But in his spare time, he was busy crafting beats on a keyboard and computer set-up in his bedroom at his mum and dad’s house.

It was a productive time, but a frustrating one: none of the artists he was producing had a hit. He wasn’t making enough money to support himself, he was still living at home, and he was having to fend off the suggestions from his parents that Stevie should get a Proper Job. ‘I’d be like, “Mum, this next one, this is the big one, this is the one where I’m gonna get paid…”’

A low point came in Sainsbury’s, where he’d gone in search of a part-time job. They told him to come back in a few weeks. ‘That’s when I decided to change it up. My friends told me about Myspace, and I put a couple of my songs up there, with me singing, and a cover of Mario’s You Should Let Me Love You. And it just went nuts.’

Hoang’s Myspace plays ticked up and up. He was recording secretly at home: his little sister would alert him when his parents were approaching his room so ‘I could quickly shut down – they got mad when they saw me on the mic ‘cause they thought I was just pissing about’. But he knew how to write a tune and, he cheerfully admits, he knew how to work the angles. ‘I was adding loads and loads of girls. I was targeting Oriental girls - I put a couple of nice pictures up there. I had the vest on - I wasn’t taking my top off! And word was getting round – there was a new R&B singer and he was Chinese. Then I put up Addicted, and things blew up.’

In early 2008, still an unsigned artist and newly relocated to Braintree in Essex (his big sister lives there and ‘there were less distractions than in London – I could concentrate on my music’) he was contacted by a small, independent Japanese label. Would he like to put out an album in Japan?

In summer 2008 he released his debut album, This Is Me. his second Japanese album, All Night Long, followed quicksmart in September 2009. His first visit, one month after the release of This Is Me, ‘was crazy. At that time I’d only performed once or twice in the UK, at Chinese events, and I went to doing crazy instore events in Tokyo’s HMB, big clubs events and VIP parties. It was just mental. That was the first time I’d ever felt like a real artist and a star.’

He’s not entirely sure why his music initially took off in Japan more than anywhere else, but suggests that ‘because my music is quite soft and melodic and over there they like that kind of stuff’.

But after a year of Japanese mayhem and taking care of his own business, the paperwork and organisation that came of his international success was getting too much.

Hoang, who was also selling the albums himself in the UK via website CD Baby and specialist dance record shops, wanted to concentrate on his tunes. He decided to get proper management. A UK record deal with Mercury swiftly followed in summer 2009.

Since then Hoang has been working on his debut British release. He’s re-tooling some of his Japanese tracks, working with Mark Taylor (Enrique Iglesias). He’s also been writing with Chipmunk collaborators Parker & James, and spent time in Los Angeles, writing new songs with RedOne (Lady GaGa, Little Boots), Dre & Vidal (Usher), Midi Mafia (50 Cent).

‘Working by yourself a lot you just get used to a certain sound and you just keep doing the same old thing,’ he admits. ‘But even in the last two months I think I’ve grown as an artist by working with these new people.’

His new single ‘No Coming Back’ released March 8th is another hit-in-waiting, a synth-pop anthem – ‘it’s a bit harder and uptempo compared to my earlier stuff’. Then there’s Addicted, a rippling, seductive slow jam that originally appeared on This Is Me but is destined to be a huge overground UK hit in its rebooted form.

In 2009 Stevie Hoang showed UK audiences what the Japanese already knew all about when he supported N-Dubz and Tinchy Stryder. ‘That took things to a whole new level for me here,’ he says. ‘It was mad – 3000 to 5000 people every night.’

In early 2010, buoyed by the bold new songs he’s created for his debut UK release, Hoang will be doing it all over again when he supports JLS on their sold-out UK tour. ‘That’s gonna be huge,’ he grins. Not that he’s resting on his laurels. He might, finally, have a manager and a UK record label. But Hoang is busier than ever, working in his home studio, working on his tunes. ‘You can never have too many good songs,’ nods this self-sufficient one-man dynamo.

Following a 12-month period when British urban pop has smashed into the commercial mainstream, say hello to a hugely exciting and genuinely unique addition to the homegrown scene, a British-Chinese producer beating the Americans at their own game.

Here then, is another, final number: Stevie Hoang is Britain’s #1 international newcomer of 2010 – a feat he’d achieved before the year has barely begun.

Note : If you'd like to contact Stevie Hoang, please follow the instructions at the bottom of the Enquiries page.

Updated on 18 February, 2010


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