Since their birth at the end of November 2010, Synergy Music Production (SMP) has become a repeatedly-mentioned name in the music scene of Hanoi. As they say in their brief intro “Promoting evolution in the local music/arts scene by working on concept orientated events”, SMP is one of the most active independent promoters for local music and musicians, having been involved in an impressive number of over 40 events in less than 7 months since coming into being!
Pham Hoang Mien from Grapevine caught up with Steve Stander (also known as DJ Kulture), one of the founders of SMP, and listened to him talking about the passion behind the scenes:
So Steve, can you tell us how the story of SMP began?
Sure! As you know, we are very young, not even 7 months old yet. We are totally a not-for-profit oriented organization and the main aim of Synergy is to get musicians paid! This may sound weird but in the past a lot of musicians and bands even had to pay the venues in order to have a stage to perform on. And we want to change that. That is the main focus of Synergy.
And what else? I have been living in Hanoi for 7 years now. I love the city and want to contribute to the contemporary music scene here. We are currently music producers/organisers for 12 bands and musicians, and as you can see, there only three Vietnamese artists, Phuong Dang or (Dang Nam Phuong), Stephen Hoang and Gam Hershaw among them. Yes, one of our biggest difficulties now is to find more Vietnamese musicians writing original music. We have been going to a lot of local live music venues in order to find more talent but many Vietnamese bands mostly play hard rock and metal. It’s so difficult to find more varieties like blues, soft rock, or even traditional folk music. Yes, we also want to help preserve traditional music in Vietnam.
Hanoi is the capital of the country. It surely is the capital in many things. Culture? Yes. Art? Yes. Only in contemporary music, we’re still behind Ho Chi Minh City! We don’t want that. We want to make Hanoi the capital of music as well. Unlike other organizer who really do a great job bringing over international acts, our sole focus at the moment is tapping into what Hanoi has to offer.
What can you say about the current situation of SMP and how are you looking to the future?
Yeah, only 6 or 7 months old and we have been involved in more than 40 music events. It has taken up a lot of our time, but we love it! Definitely we will keep growing and the number of events will increase over time. We have also set a vision for the future. We want to build up “music with a message”. We want to have music events to support good causes such as against domestic violence, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse wherever there is need for more awareness. We have a long-term commitment to the music scene here too. I will not stay in Hanoi forever, someday I will perhaps leave, but I don’t want SMP to be gone with me, or with Jamir (the other founder of SMP)! We want to have successive generations to continue building up SMP even when we are not here anymore.
How about difficulties? Besides finding Vietnamese musicians writing original music, any other obstacles that you have to encounter?
The quality of sound systems is always a problem. Hanoi Rock City and Green Mango have very good sound systems but other venues? Not really…
The early closing hour is another issue. Here in Hanoi, most of the venues have to be closed at midnight (while in HCMC they can stay open much later)
We also have trouble finding more sound engineers. The expats are amazing, but we want Vietnamese experts as well, and we haven’t succeeded in finding anyone that really fits the description…well not yet.
Another shock for is the difficulty finding affordable Vietnamese musicians who play traditional instruments. I really mean “affordable”! We have asked many Vietnamese folk musicians to play in our gigs and all of them are happy to, but when it comes to their required payment, most of the times we can’t afford them. Ideally my perfect dream is that every event should be free! The venues then can pay the musicians from the audience’s spending on drinks but normally most venues prefer selling tickets to pay the musicians, and we don’t want to set the ticket price too high and exclude the young Vietnamese. That’s why we cannot afford paying the high fee asked by the Vietnamese musicians.
And of course one of the most difficult things is to find more Vietnamese artists. Vietnamese people are a bit shy when it comes to performing their own original music. They are very confident in karaoke, but the story with original music is different. We have tried hard by going to some local music schools to hand out leaflets, and put up posters in order to find more talent, but not so many effective results yet.
We know there is talent out there and we would welcome recommendations and suggestions. Who know, there may just be dozens of Phuong Dang’s out there to be discovered!
Thank you Steve! Looking forward to catching up with more events from SMP, and also more new talents in the future!
SMP describes Phuong Dang: “This amazing young female song writer is best summarised in one word….talent…. Elegant piano and power vocals. Recent performances have literally left the audience in awe of this must see talent”. You can listen to her beautiful music on SMP website
So if you are one of those Phuong Dangs that is still sitting at home, what are you waiting for? Step into the spot light and spread your talent! Contact SMP at [email protected], they’ll definitely be more than happy to hear from you!
The SMP crew:
Steve Stander and Jamir Adiong (founders)
Brady Fossenbell and Ryan Turley (later additions as partners)
The Props – The Only Reggae Band – Always – Joshua Lee (or Josh Lee) – Dang Nam Phuong (or Phuong Dang) – Meeshle Moon – Jahm Adiong (or Jamir Adiong) – Mouth of the Wolf – DJ Cache – Kulture (or Steve Stander) – Vaughan – DJ Lyo
All pictures provided by SMP.
|Pham Hoang Mien has been with Hanoi Grapevine for some time, mainly involved in social media and occasional translation. As an enthusiastic music lover, now she wants to challenge herself in a new role – being a columnist writing about music and musicians for the site.|