|Music producer Chi Thanh
A Vietnamese-Germany music producer and DJ (disc jockey) based in Berlin, Chi Thanh, was nominated for the Grammy Award in the Latin Rock category for the song Lipstick in 2004, alongside well-known American musician Desmond Child and others. It was not until 10 years later that he had the opportunity to return to Việt Nam for a music collaboration project with music producer Thanh Bùi. An Vũ chats with him about his passion for music and his future.
Inner Sanctum: When did you start learning music? How did you learn to play musical instruments?
I started learning music at the age of five. I was lucky to receive early music and piano lessons. At 11, I learnt the guitar. When I formed my first band at 14, I started learning the bass and drums. I also learnt a bit of saxophone because it is similar to vocals.
Inner Sanctum: When did you start composing songs? How many have you done so far? Can you name a few of your favourites?
I started composing instrumental music when I was about 13 or 14, and then in another two years, I wrote music with my bandmates. I probably wrote about 500 to 700 songs in the last 15 years, but of course, maybe only 50 or 100 got an official release. The song Lipstick was the highlight in my career because it was nominated and I must also mention My Head Is a Jungle because it was among the top five records in Europe.
Inner Sanctum: You have worked with singers such as Madonna, Britney Spears, P. Diddy, Usher, Lil’Jon, and Duran Duran. Can you tell us more about the collaborations with them? The starting point, struggles, and others?
I started with American artistes by remixing and producing different mixes for the European market. Sometimes, I met them in Germany at a show and sometimes the record company just sent the vocals, and I did the production and we communicated via the internet.
When you work for high profile artists the expectation is high from them and from yourself, as you want to put in your best work. As they say, good work creates more work.
Inner Sanctum: You were nominated for the Grammy Latin Rock with Lipstick, composed together with Desmond Child. Being the first Vietnamese to be nominated for this reputed award, can you share your feelings?
I wrote the song with some friends in London in a very small studio. It got picked up by Desmond Child in Los Angeles. He added some work and it got presented to the singer, and then it went on to become a hit in Latin America and the US.
It shows that a song can happen anywhere and that you need to constantly have a creative output because you never know where and how your music can travel.
Of course, I was happy to be nominated and I got to meet a lot of my heroes at the ceremony, such as Quincy Jones (Michael Jackson’s producer), Herbie Hancock, Santana.
Inner Sanctum: With your work in the album Let’s Play, Stone and Rain, you became one of 10 best-selling music artistes. Which ranking chart does this honour belong to?
In the club music world, there is a very important DJ club chart called www.beatport.com. All the DJs worldwide refer to this chart to buy their music to play at clubs. My original club songs were all in the top 10 of the beatport charts, and in 2014, I was among the top 10 best-selling artistes in the Deep House category on beatport.
It is an honour to know that a lot of DJs support me and play my music every weekend at their clubs all over the world.
Right now, another top 10 production of mine is on the beatport charts, a remix of the song Body Language.
Inner Sanctum: Why was it only in 2015 that you came back and work with Vietnamese artistes?
I never had any contact with the local Vietnamese music scene, as I only travelled to Việt Nam privately and mostly for holidays. Luckily, I got to meet Thanh Bùi in Berlin a few years ago, and we clicked immediately and stayed in touch and then things started to happen for both of us.
Inner Sanctum: After coming back and running a few workshops for Vietnamese DJs, what do you honestly think about the Vietnamese music industry, especially the DJs and their potential?
I think the basic understanding is there for dance music and it is good to learn the DJing basics. However, it is important that the local scene starts producing its own music. Also, I think it is important to learn about the different styles of dance music, not just EDM; there are different genres in dance music, such as deep house, tech-house, nu-disco, etc.
Inner Sanctum: Do you have any specific projects coming up in Việt Nam to give an international touch to the music industry in Việt Nam, or maybe get Việt Nam noticed in the world music scene, as you mentioned recently?
Yes, Thanh Bùi and his team are planning to bring me back soon, so we can continue to work on new songs and projects. Also, I have been in constant contact with choreographer Alexander Tú to work on some new music and projects. I think 2017 will be exciting and I can’t wait to share more music of the Missing You Remix with Việt Nam and take this music and introduce it to Europe and the world. VNS