DJ Tung Tim’s Music For Kids’ Parties Or For Parties With Kids Who Grew Up

“Ah, techno,” Tung Tim sighs wistfully. He loves this form of electronic music that emerged from Detroit in the 1980s. “It makes me feel so many emotions, like a roller coaster ride, with the hit of adrenaline that comes with it…” 

Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt

Tung Tim is from Hanoi. There, about eight years ago, he started discovering underground music culture, and experimenting with house and techno. “It’s fun,” he shrugs unapologetically recalling parties like Studio Adventure where he played a set in an empty swimming pool. “And I like its rebellious non-mainstream spirit.”  Fittingly we’re at Saigon’s Museum of Vietnamese History to take a musical trip back in time with the enigmatic, suave DJ.

Tung Tim loves techno’s “rebellious, non-mainstream spirit”.

“I think it was when I was in Grade 4 that I first discovered music. My dad had this stack of cassettes loaded with disco classics,” he laughs at the memory, “and when my parents were out, I’d call my friends over, we’d eat watermelon and dance!” The feeling stuck with him. “I guess it’s what I get people to do now too…only watermelon became cocktails.” 

Like most teenagers, his tastes took time to evolve before appreciating more esoteric electronica. “I did have my period getting into nu-metal like Linkin Park or Slipknot around 7th Grade,” he confesses, “but even then I most liked that there would be a DJ between bands”. 

By 2012 he was recording his first mixtapes with his newly acquired Pioneer CDJs. He chose the elaborate DJ moniker of Purple T. But, upon the insistence of his friends, switched to playing under the name Tung Tim. 

Besides his ecstatically received sets, music is a constant companion. “I can live without a lover, but I can’t live without music…” he admits. He listens everywhere “from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.” And it’s not only house and techno. “I guess it might be a surprise that my music taste is diverse, from traditional folk music to classical composers like J.S. Bach…” That probably explains why he can’t give up DJing, even though it’s crossed his mind from time to time. 

His early gigs were at Kumquat Tree, the wonderful Hanoi speakeasy where we recently met master mixologist Sean Halse. And gradually, Saigon started calling to him with its bigger, brighter nightlife. So, he relocated, and joined Bali-themed club-lounge of the moment Bam Bam as resident DJ. 

“I can live without a lover, but I can’t live without music…”

What do you listen to when no ones around?

It’s made a comeback lately through the work of Saigon Soul Revival and Saigon Supersound, and the resurgence of genres like bolero, but growing up in Hanoi, music of the 60s and 70s was prohibited. So that’s my secret pleasure. Then, besides that, I like to listen to old French music like Francoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan, and some other old love songs. 

Are there any genres of music you think are underrated? And any that are overrated?

I think classical music and folk music are both underrated. They’re timeless, and contain the roots of modern music. And for overrated, I’d say anything that’s too experimental. Experimentation is valuable, but not at the cost of the enjoyment of the listener. 

Which song would you play at your wedding? And which one would you want to be played at your funeral?

Easy. For my wedding, I’d choose Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Waltz No.2”. And for my funeral, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. I’m choosing these two grand classical songs in tribute to my ancestors who were mandarins under the Nguyen Dynasty. So whether it’s a wedding or a funeral, I’d want that feeling of majesty and nobility.

Tung Tim moved to Saigon recently to become a resident DJ at Bam Bam.

What kind of traditional Vietnamese music do you like and why is it special?

Ca Tru music. This is an indigenous music of Northern Vietnam. At some point, it almost died out completely. Fortunately, it’s made a resurgence thanks, in part, to its recognition as Vietnam’s cultural heritage. There are usually three performers, the singer who also hits a wooden block, and two instrumentalists. It contains this profound sense of calm and emotion. It’s very cerebral and powerful.

Finally, tell us about this mix you’ve made for us…

First up is “In Persian Market”, by Albert W. Ketelbey which featured in a fairy tale movie I watched as a kid. Then Piero Umiliani’s “Risaie”. I have always felt the world is like a fairy tale. A magical wonderland that we explore packed with interesting and new things. “Risaie” captures that feeling perfectly. Then Khachaturian’s “Masquerade Suite”, a reminder of the tribulations of life and death.

After that, more tributes to my family, with Sylvie Vartan’s “La Plus Belle Pour Aller Danser”. It’s strange, I must have heard it played often by my grandfather and uncles when I was young, but those memories only came back when I reheard the song after growing up.

“It reminds me strongly of Hanoi: whirring ceiling fans, the scent in the air, rustling pages of a newspaper. And it’s satisfying”.

Niccolò Paganini’s “Caprice No. 24” is next. And then Rachmaninov’s “Prelude in G Minor” that brings fortitude in solitude. And then I get even more nostalgic with My Linh’s “Hương Ngọc Lan”. It reminds me of the ancient poetry of Hanoi. 

Following that is “Tuổi Mộng Mơ” by Như Mai. Then we switch to Henry Mancini’s “Dancing Cat”. Another oldie. And more nostalgia, this time from an American composer. And then Paul Mauriat’s “Brasilia Carnaval”, music for kids’ parties, and music for parties with kids who grew up!

After that is a song that reminds us all not to hesitate when opportunity calls. Time goes by so fast, and we should seize every moment, as Thu Phuong’s “Dòng Sông Lơ Đãng” or “The Lazy River” reminds us.

Tung Tim at Geological Museum.

Then, I’ve chosen Francoise Hardy’s “Comment Te Dire Adieu”. This song captures the intangible beauty of being in love. The melody is sublime, with depth, and it has this melting quality that brings to mind the best memories of passionate times.

And we return to the classical vibe with Franz Liszt’s “La Campanella”. It’s a melancholy track that has suited my moods when I’ve been down or lonely. It’s uplifting and beautiful too…

And, although it might sound morbid, we finish with Albinoni’s “Oboe Concerto #2 in D Minor Op. 9” to remind us that human life is merely dust in the universe…

Listen to Tung Tim’s mixes on Soundcloud here. Photos and video of Tung Tim by Khooa Nguyen, Tuan Jerry and Johnny Viet.

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