Electronic music, or electro, has taken an increasingly firmer foothold in Vietnam, and its spurting growth has added new life to the apparently saturated music arena.
Electro is a genre of music in which sounds are created and modified with electronic instruments, synthesizers, and computers.
A number of electro festivals of different scales have been organized in major Vietnamese cities in recent years, with each drawing influxes of fans who are mostly young people.
Several of these events have seen the participation of emerging local disc jockeys (DJs).
The sustained success of a popular electronic music festival, “Hanoi Sound Stuff,” well into its seventh year was among the elements to spur on artist Tri Minh, its initiator, to continue organizing the event this year, though he previously planned to stop the program after its fifth year.
Its eighth show, which ran from April 9 to 11 and gathered several of the country's topnotch electro performers as well as notable international singers of the genre, was another success.
On a similar vein, “The Remix,” which has been on air at 9:00 pm every Sunday on Vietnam Television's VTV3 since late January, offers a refreshing breeze to the local music arena, where singing contests and the local versions of foreign reality shows such as Vietnam Idol and The Voice of Vietnam have seen waning audience interest in recent years.
Its copyright was purchased from the Turkish subsidiary of Global Agency, one of the world’s leading independent TV content distributors of TV series, formats, and films for global markets, according to the Vietnamese show’s website.
“The Remix” stands out from several other singing reality shows for underlining the chemistry between singers, music producers, and DJs in teams.
The teams produce innovative remixes of songs by making use of electro instruments and techniques.
The show, which has drawn emerging and top singers, DJs, and producers, became magnetic right after its first few nights.
Two performances in "The Remix" show. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Several world-leading DJs also held electro shows in Vietnam to the roaring applause of young buffs.
One of them is the show of Hardwell, a Dutch electro house DJ and music producer.
He was voted the World's No. 1 DJ in DJ Magazine's annual Top 100 DJs poll in 2013, and again in 2014.
The show, which took place in Ho Chi Minh City in September last year, attracted an audience of over 10,000 members.
Likewise, the maiden Future Now Music Festival, which ran in Ho Chi Minh City in June last year, featured Afrojack, a Dutch Grammy-winning DJ and music producer; Far East Movement, a celebrated American hip hop band; along with several local DJs and singers.
The feast sent many of the nearly 10,000 audience members swaying vivaciously to the electrifying music.
French DJ Superpoze performed in Ho Chi Minh City in March 2014.
The Monsoon Music Festival, which debuted in Hanoi in October last year, also caused quite a stir among Vietnamese and expat electro fans.
Arousing electro pieces made up a large portion of the festival’s music and were performed by six much-loved Vietnamese and international DJs, as well as local bands and singers.
The three-day festival recently won the Year’s Best Program prize in the “Cong Hien” (Contributions) Awards, given annually to honor singers, composers, and others in the music industry.
“Electro is the type of music that provides audiences with a perfect outlet for their energy. The genre particularly thrives at music festivals, where people come not only to listen to music but also to gulp down beer and have a good time amidst the bouncy music,” said veteran composer Quoc Trung, the festival’s head director.
A vibrant generation of singers dedicated to the genre has also emerged in recent years.
Young singer Nguyen Tran Trung Quan recently claimed two prizes of “New Artist” and “The Year’s Album” in the Cong Hien Awards for his debut electro collection.
Other singers who have reaped certain success are Nguyen Dinh Thanh Tam, Tran Thu Ha, and Tung Duong.
Popular local DJ Slim V, 27, switched from training to become an orthodox pianist to an innovative DJ and composer who has ingeniously fused different genres with his strength – electronic music.
Revered Vietnamese-French composer Nguyen Thien Dao, who works mostly in contemporary classical music, was so impressed by Slim V’s works that he awarded him a one-year overseas scholarship.
“In the global music arena, almost all boundaries among various music genres are blurred. Electro music isn’t merely about fiddling with sounds and state-of-the-art devices or associated with drug abuse at clubs. Just like anything else, if a genre survives and is heartily embraced, it must have a certain value in itself,” the young DJ-composer once said.
DJ Slim V, one of Vietnam's much-loved DJs/composers. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Other much-loved DJs are Hoang Touliver, Mike Hao, and Long Halo.
The emergence of several sensual female disc jockeys, such as Oxy, King Lady, Myno, Trang Moon, and Ngoc Nga, has also added much fun to the game.
Oxy and King Lady, both 23, were listed among the FDJS – Top 100 list released in late December last year on the basis of the Female DJ Poll by thefdjlist.com. Oxy stood in 24th place while her compatriot DJ King Lady was ranked 95th.
The website is the first ever female DJ directory platform listing all female DJs from around the world, according to EDMDroid, a Malaysia-based online magazine covering electronic dance music.
Experimental electronic music, a lesser-known subgroup of electro, however, has yet to take firm roots in Vietnam, though they have received several show invitations abroad.
Undaunted, these artists remain adamant on their less-trodden road.
Among them, Nguyen Hong Nhung, an 11th-grader, has performed at a number of electro music shows.
The girl, who has been involved in experimental electro for three years now, has also written music for some projects and is prepared to make an album with a French recording company.