Decoding the opposites in Nguyen Hong Giang’s music

Decoding the opposites in Nguyen Hong Giang’s music

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Written by Uyên Ly and Phan Đan for Hanoi Grapevine, photos and video by Phan Đan
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On 30 Nov 2019, the music night “Into the Noise” co-organized by Hanoi Grapevine and Vincom Center for Contemporary Art VCCA had introduced to the audience the independent musician and music producer Nguyễn Hồng Giang – an artist with a strong musical personality and admirable work efficiency.

Sound storm

Nguyễn Hồng Giang looked young and casual. The performance room of Into the Noise was filled with people, most of them young people. About 90% of them have never listened to Nguyễn Hồng Giang’s music, nor do they know the “sound storm” he was about to bring.

A few people got up and leave after each set. A young man left the room after the second set saying, “Shocked!”. Giang was probably familiar with this, that the world he creates does not suit some people.

What Giang brought was not so much music in the common sense, but rather an amplified mix of deliberately arranged sounds. The sound storm was uncompromising, dramatic and challenging, taking up all the space and time. If the listener tried to resist it, there would be an uncomfortable struggle, and if the head was empty and relaxed, the “storm” can create a spectacular extravaganza. The listener could only let themself, and their headache may there be, be swept away by the storm, even a headache can be swept away, leaving behind a clear, relaxed mind.

Watch a video clip of the performance here:

For those who stayed, Giang’s music was highly notable and enticing. There were always questions posed during the intervals, with the desire to hear the artist’s view and knowledge. After three sets, Giang still stayed behind with his audience. They gathered around Giang and his table, asking little by little, and Giang explained every detail, and how each sound was made.

Everything from experimental music to million-view hit

Giang (born in 1991), having been playing black metal since he was attending piano school at the Conservatory of Ho Chi Minh City, is always into music that is rich in space, a bit dark, challenging and even extreme (dark ambient drone music, noise). He has been familiar with noise music since he was 15 – 16 years old, and pursuing it since 2009. Other than that, Giang also produces million-view hits which are extremely popular and easy to go viral.

Giang loves to explore and to try out different music genres. He is always racing against time to do what he wants. He works like crazy, mostly sleeps only 04 hours a day, and constantly churning out music productions, for example, in 2015, 2016, and 2017 he released 03 multi-color hip hop albums, including “Cuộc chơi”, “Everyday” (including the hit hit Chết đi cho rồi (feat Cam & Quỳnh), “Người trong giang hồ”). As of 2017, Giang composed and produced up to 1,000 songs of various genres. In 2018, he produced several million-view hits, such as Mình cưới nhau đi of Huỳnh James and Pjnboys (Mondo Records), considered a song of Vietnamese reggae, attracting 186 million views on YouTube. In 2019 alone, he released OUTNHG album with 520 music tracks, and a multi-genre album called “Screenshot” which he collaborated with many famous artists, and even launched his own self-produced MAZE game which is continued to be developed.

Giang said he did not pursue hip hop music because it was popular, but because he was afraid that he would not had the chance to later. “Today I produce this music genre, tomorrow another. What if the people I collaborate with will not continue”. Giang said it was the easiest to make hit music, because he could see what the audience liked. Every hit song he could produce in one day. “But you easily get ‘crazy’ making hit music, just ‘love, love, love’ forever. If I make a bit of ‘dark’ I will be fine. (‘Dark’ here means experimental electronic music – writer). ”

Master the art of sound creation

In the electronic music world of Nguyễn Hồng Giang, every sound can become raw materials and elements for him to transform and intervene to create his desired effects and atmosphere. For maximum control, Giang even wrote his own software. He likes to use the “fractal” concept to talk about his music creative process. This means that from a 2-second-or-less sample, Giang can split it into several smaller “samples”, processing and transforming them into full tracks music with effects, multi-color and multi-layer sounds.

Next video on the performance:


Because of the importance of processing and producing sound rather than the input materials, Giang named his experimental electronic music album OUT, meaning output is more important than the input, product quality is more important than format.

Nguyen Hong Giang performed in a number of important electronic and experimental music events from 2009 until now, such as Gặp gỡ Nhạc mới Hà Nội 2009, Hanoi Sound Stuff 2010, 2011, Asian meeting festival (Japan, 2015), CTM Festival Persistence (Germany, 2019) Blurred Boundary (at L’Espace, Hanoi, 2019).

You can find the sound storm of Nguyễn Hồng Giang here https://nguyenhonggiang.tumblr.com/

You can find Nguyễn Hồng Giang online at:

Bandcamp: https://nguyenhonggiang.bandcamp.com/
MAZE game: https://nhg.itch.io/maze
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Lowrither/featured
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/nguyenhonggiang
Viet Music Reunion fanpage – a group organizing performances for artists: https://www.facebook.com/vmrvietnam/

Translated by Hanoi Grapevine

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