At 31, Teddy Chilla is already something of an OG in Vietnam’s music scene. Not that he’s tiring. You’ll see him behind the decks at pop-up events, openings and shows with a pulled down cap, head nodding. And when Teddy Chilla‘s not out, he’s probably home producing remixes or originals that incorporate found sounds, traditional Vietnamese elements; anything to capture that enigmatic quality of internationally-minded, made-in-Vietnam music.
Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt
Teddy Chilla’s days usually play out the same. “I’ll wake up around nine or ten in the morning, have breakfast then coffee with friends. Then I’m back to my studio, where I’ll dig for new music, or get back into the projects I’m working on, interspersed with a quick lunch. Monday to Thursday I teach classes in electronic music. Then, usually at the weekend, you’ll find me at some Saigon venues, throwing around some beats.”
Teddy Chilla recently released ‘Kougen’, a typical mix of bass music and ethnic sounds, even though he admits there’s other producers he admires doing the same. “Right, tracks like ‘Qua Cầu Gió Bay’ by Limebócx. They combined dub music, beatboxing and traditional instruments like the Đàn Tranh in a very nice and refreshing way. As soon as the track starts, you know it’s going to be freaking good.”
“With my projects, like ‘Kougen’, I want to preserve the old and the new too,” Teddy Chilla explains. But his perfectionist urges meant the project was delayed. The first demo came out in 2020. Unsatisfied with the vocal sample, he waited to capture the perfect take from Nghia, AKA K’Noi, a K’Ho singer Teddy got to know through friends. “People who dive into the project should feel that interplay of old and new – the sounds of the plateau and the underground waves of Dubstep,”Teddy Chilla smiles.
We wonder how it compares to the first track Teddy Chilla put out. “Oh, that was a club banger, something like Flo Rida’s ‘Low’. And the same BPM at 128. I guess my early work was less rounded, but it meant a lot and drove me to keep exploring new sounds,” he says thoughtfully, “but my track ‘Conspiracy’ was the one that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Listening to some heavy two-step tracks from the early 2000s inspired me to leave behind the trap and hip-hop I’d been making.”
But,Teddy Chilla says, out of all the tracks he’s put out so far, ‘Margarita’ probably best represents his style: “I think it expresses my character well, moving but not too aggressively, neutral but not conformist.”
If you hosted a Teddy Chilla festival, where would it be and who would be in the line-up?
I’d host it in the jungle! Somewhere around my hometown of Bao Loc City. For headliners, I’d curate some of the artists and DJs that set me on this path: Ta-ku, Mr. Carmack, Esta, DJ Jase, DJ Jin and Troyboi…
I’d maybe mix in some up-and-coming people I’m feeling, like Mashiro and Kohi – so young with so much potential. Their skills are already better than mine when I was their age. Check their track ‘That Shiet’. It’s a banger.
And who would be your dream collaborators right now, one local and one international?
A Vietnamese artist I’d like to collaborate with is the legendary musician, Duc Huy. His songs are just lovely. And internationally, I think Diplo. His production prowess is undeniable.
What song is the perfect soundtrack for a night ride through Saigon?
The best album to listen to, for me, is ‘In Fine Style’ by Horsepower Production. It was one of the first albums that helped birth the Dubstep genre. The beats are still kinda two-step, which drives the energy of the tracks, and then there’s the bassline and the dubby elements. Way ahead of its time.
Which genre of music is underrated?
In Vietnam, I think Drum and Bass is underrated. That’s maybe because of the tempo, at 160-180 BPM, and the rhythm is kind of complex – definitely when compared to house and techno. That makes it harder to dance to. Conversely, Dub is underrated too, for the opposite reasons – it’s heavy and too chill for some ears.
What song would you play at your wedding? And what song would you like played at your funeral?
OK, for my wedding, I’ll play ‘My Love’ by Justin Timberlake and T.I. It’s so romantic…but in a cool way. And for my funeral, let’s put on the mantra of Padmasambhava, on repeat. I am kinda spiritual, you know?
What do you secretly listen to when no one is around?
Sometimes it’s the soundtrack of Super Sentai! Other times a mantra, or some zen music just to instill my workspace with some chill, and to recharge the energy a bit.
You have one track to make someone fall in love with music. What track do you play?
‘Tasogare’ by Mai Yamane. Everything about that song is perfect!
Describe this mix you’ve made for us.
This guest mix is a hot pot. And every song will take you on a journey, by turns powerful, adventurous and calming. Get home. Shower. Have dinner. Gather some friends and play this mix.
Finally, tell us about the ten tracks you’ve chosen.
Chrome Sparks’ ‘Marijuana’ was a track I got into in 2013. Listening again, I’m filled with nostalgia by the synth line. I feel like I’m back in time…and transported into the future, in the 2100s. Odesza’s ‘My Friends Never Die’, captured more futuristic vibes back in 2014. The drop’s full of bright synths, and then there’s the nice, clean vocal chops and percussion. Pharrell x Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ would be on repeat in my car 100 years from now! Then my wedding song, Justin Timberlake x T.I’s ‘My Love’! An iconic track of the 2000s. Then we’re back to my beloved Dubstep genre with Ganja White Night’s ‘Mango’. It was the first Dubstep I’d heard besides Skrillex at the time, by these two talented Belgian guys.
After that Hucci x Gameface’s ‘Leaves Are Brown’ – trap music at its finest. OK, the next track is trap music at it’s finest, part two! Mr. Carmack’s ‘Pay For What’ will turn your car into a spaceship when you put it on the stereo.
Then, my all-time favorite reggae track, Damian Markey’s ‘Welcome To Jamrock’, Panda Dub’s ‘Labyrinthe’ – a heavy dub classic. Finally Linkin Park’s ‘New Devide’ and some silky, sexy Japanese music to play out to, ‘Tasogare’ by Mai Yamane. Confession time, I used to play this every time I took a shower during lockdown.
Photos by Nghia Ngo.