Event planner and DJ Levi Doan took a trip with us around White Rabbit Park. There she selected the songs that have soundtracked her most memorable moments.
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Levi Doan arrives for the interview and shoot with her hair dyed bright orange. “It’s for an Alice In Wonderland themed party tonight,” she laughs. Levi was born in Bavaria, Germany and moved to Saigon at the end of 2018 from Berlin, the electronic music capital of Europe. Since then she’s been organising events and experiences around the city. Many of them have incorporated music. “One of my first projects was on the production of an album by one of my favourite DJs, Red Axes, scouting local traditional musicians and organising workshops,” she remembers.
“It sounds weird, but it’s like music is your most loyal friend. No matter if you are happy, sad, lonely, enthusiastic, angry or just emotional, it will always align with your mood,” she continues as we begin the photoshoot on the skate park in Saigon’s District 10.
How important is music in your life, Levi?
Music is something very personal and reflects a lot of the emotions we feel. Every song gives you the opportunity to feel something for a couple of minutes. I think it is very powerful. And it’s a constant, whether dancing in clubs or listening passively while I’m doing things at home. Put simply: it’s the elixir of life.
I have the habit of hiding tons of playlists on Spotify. I create a lot of them for different moods and occasions. When I wake up the first thing I do is open Spotify and a random playlist. I even listen to music on the back of Grab bikes The drivers probably think I’m really unfriendly. They start a conversation and I never reply – maybe I should keep the volume down a bit.
It’s very rare that I don’t listen to music. In fact, if I don’t listen to any music at all for the whole day I feel that something is missing. And I often share playlists with friends who are far away. It makes me miss them less…or sometimes more.
What’s the first experience of listening to music you remember?
I wish I could tell you that I’ve had this constant relationship with music for as long as I can remember. In truth, music came much later. I don’t count my dad blasting the Bee Gees and Abba in the house when I was a child – which I wasn’t a big fan of.
But is it sad that I only vividly remember the experiences I’ve had in clubs? For example, I remember being in Melbourne’s Brown Alley club when Dixon dropped the Âme Remix of ‘Turn Around’. My friend Amandine and I both burst into tears out of pure happiness.
Which moments really made you fall in love with music?
A lot of my taste in music was shaped by my older brother. I liked everything he liked…even crunk.
When I was a teenager – too young to even be in clubs – I’d sneak out with him. We’d go to hip-hop clubs. I remember when I was 16 years old, we went to a Mike Jones gig. I got backstage to ask for his autograph. The only thing I had for him to sign was my passport. And so he signed his name across the pages in permanent marker!
Later, when I was around 18, I moved to Berlin for my studies. There I started to learn more about electronic music. I remember the first time I got into Berghain [the notoriously difficult to enter club] – and I’m still trembling at the memory. Berlin really opened my ears to electronic music. That was really the point that I became obsessed with music.
What’s the most underrated genre of music? And the most overrated?
It depends. And it’s location specific. Deep house is underrated. It seems boring and lame here because it’s kind of slow and not that strong in terms of bass and beat. Also, there’s no MC screaming in the background.
And the most overrated? Vinahouse. That’s my personal answer. We all have different palettes for music, but Vinahouse, EDM, or even other genres like heavy metal will probably never win me over.
You have one track to make someone love music. What do you play them?
This might surprise you, but I think it’s The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’. It is such a killer track, touching and so simple. It’s also an all-star at karaoke!
What mood should your ten-track mix put the listener in?
Curious? I suggest that you should be open to explore the different colours of electronic music that I’m presenting here. Each song will put you in a specific mood.
Where would be the perfect place to listen to this mix?
Music can be listened to anywhere. It is more about feeling it and letting the music into your heart. By yourself. In the car. In the kitchen cooking. In the shower. Or with friends after a long night out when you’re back home.
Can you describe the ten tracks you’ve chosen?
Here, basically, all the songs included remind me of unique moments.
My friends and I travel abroad to see our favourite DJs. We are planning trips with 30 people, and yes, music is the key connecting us. After every trip, we are creating a shared playlist like this and put all the ‘bangers’ in there as memories.
We start with Caribou’s ‘Odessa’. It’s poppy and a bit psychedelic – and seeing Caribou was my first concert in Berlin. Nicholas Jaar is the king of slow experimental electronic music. His ‘Mi Mujer’ has soft smooth jazzy vibes mixed with sexy deep house. Âme’s ‘Howling (Âme Remix)’, which I mentioned earlier reminds me of walking home after leaving the club in Berlin’s summertime.
Next, there’s LCD Soundsystem’s ‘I Used To (Dixon Retouch)’. It reminds me of raves in the desert with its dramatic lyrics wrapped in upbeat house vibes. Midland’s ‘Final Credits’ is groovy goodness. Anytime, anywhere. Then I’ve included Red Axes – the project I mentioned earlier – ‘Hue feat. Music Academy Students’. Close your eyes and you are in the middle of the Vietnamese countryside dancing with water buffaloes.
After that, there’s Aleksandir’s ‘Yamaha’ that slowly builds into an epic, dreamy journey. It reminds me of another epic moment at a festival in Israel. Pional’s ‘Tempest’ is simply beautiful. And finally, Fatima Yamaha’s ‘What’s A Girl To Do?’ captures my mood sometimes in this city. And I finish with Pachanga Boys’ ‘Time’ – 15 minutes of pure bliss. You should feel every moment…