“I love my job,” beatboxer Thai Son says giving us a contented smile, “I make music, using sounds from my mouth.” Beatboxer Thai Son has been perfecting his craft for the past 11 years. And just last year, he won the title Champion of Beatbox Asia in the Loop Station category. Thai Son is a self-declared loner. But he considers music his bestie. “My music is with me always,” Thai Son explains, “It is by my side when I’m bored and lonely. It is by my side when I achieve glory.”
Read on in Vietnamese
At six years old, beatboxer Thai Son first began exploring foreign music. He listened to songs his peers had no interest in. “Listening was and is my best skill,” he reflects on his childhood. Thai Son loved to imitate famous singers.
He especially loved belting out the great Michael Jackson. Little Thai Son sang and danced all day every day. And, as the years went by, Thai Son imitated not only singers but also instruments. This set the stage for his beatboxing career. “When it comes to music, I am everything,” beatboxer Thai Son points to his mouth, “I am the singer and the accompaniment.”
In his teenage years, Thai Son was not a particularly outstanding student. Not many extracurriculars appealed to him. Except dance. To this day, he considers his most meaningful experience with music to be one of his dance performances. In front of an audience of his school’s staff, students, and parents, a 14-year-old Thai Son imitated Michael Jackson’s iconic moves. Dancing to a King of Pop mash-up, Thai Son had never felt so confident. Right there on stage, he realised his deep bond with music.
Nowadays beatboxer Thai Son spends four hours a day on YouTube listening to music. He spends an additional three hours working directly with the music, composing tracks from scratch and remixing existing ones with his own beats.
“Whether I’m at home or at FPT, the company I work at, I’m always listening to music,” Thai Son explains. Music is also the thread that connects Thai Son to other artists in the world. And because the internet makes for easy access to tracks from Brazil to Sweden to Russia, beatboxer Thai Son takes advantage of this. “I am the pupil of all the musical artists of this planet,” he says passionately.
Beatboxer Thai Son blessed our launch party at Bam Bam back in August. So, we asked him to put together a ten-track mix.
What’s the most underrated genre of music? Most overrated?
Every genre has its place. For every genre, there exists a dedicated community of people who love that sort of music. So, I can’t tell you what the most underrated or overrated one is.
What do you listen to secretly when no one is around?
When no one’s around, I listen to beatbox battles! It’s more technical than regular beatboxing. People generally don’t understand it much. But I love all the intricate technicalities.
You have one track to make someone love music. What do you play them?
I really love Nhom 5 Dong Ke’s track, “Mat Troi Ngay Moi”. It translates to “The Sun of New Day”. I always use it as the intro of my shows. It makes the audience see how music can be made from a series of simple sounds that are overlayed.
And which of your own tracks would you play someone so they understand you?
“Vợ Nhặt”. I was inspired by a famous literary work of the same name – a novel about poverty during the Vietnam War. I birthed it ten years ago. And it was my first original song.
What song would you like played at your wedding? At your funeral?
For my wedding, I will compose an original song to tell my story. And at my funeral, I want friends and family to play anything memorable that I have created or even tracks that just remind them of me.
Describe this mix in a few sentences.
This mix showcases my maturity. It shows what time has taught me. With one track, I tell my audience a story. With another track, I bring them to a different emotion. This mix comprises diverse tracks don’t really go with each other. Each one is its individual work of art.
Where would be the perfect place to listen to this mix?
On the plane! Whenever I’m in the air, I always fully disconnect from my life down on earth and all its discomforts. I’m in this mental vacuum where I just focus on music and the beautiful memories of my past.
Tell us about the ten tracks you’ve chosen?
We start things off with Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl”. l consider this MJ’s most underrated track. Every single sound in this track is perfect to me. This downtempo song is sultry and sensual. Mood goals. We stay in the nineties with the next track, “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics. Any audience loves singing to this iconic track. The melody is so unique and I am just in awe of the beautiful transitions throughout. Back to MJ and his classic “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. MJ’s voice is amazing, but I listen to this for its instrumental genius.
Switching it up to something a little more contemporary, we go to Daft Punk’s stupidly catchy “Get Lucky” featuring Pharell Williams. It’s extremely repetitive but for a reason. It really gets you into a head-bopping groove. I can loop this for an hour! This next one might just be my favorite song. “Beggin” by Madcon is so danceable. Actually, my background is in hip-hop dance and have a great routine set to this banger. And I also do a beatbox cover of this one. I performed it at Grand Beatbox Battle 2018. Everyone dug it.
After that, we move ever so slightly toward rock with the legendary “Love Someone” by Dub FX. This track lets people see a new way to mix beatbox and vocals with a loop station and an effects pedal.
I absolutely adore this next track because it makes me feel invigorated and fresh. Nhom 5 Dong Ke’s “Mat Troi Ngay Moi” has this primal percussion and background chanting that evokes beautiful images of nature. Then we have something super young and chill that came out just last year.
Youngr used stellar looping technique in creating “Out of my System”. But while the technique is intricate, the track feels so gorgeously casual. We stay chilling with my next track “Say Ladeo” by Bobby McFerrin. When listening to this, close your eyes. I feel like when I listen to this song, I’m listening to the universe itself.
Finally, I end my playlist with Linkin Park’s “In the End”. Duh. A lot of the songs on here help me forget my woes. This song takes the whole thing home saying, “In the end, it doesn’t even matter…”
Photos by Nam Tran Duy. Edited by Nic Wong.