We’re surprised. UncleBOO looks way too young to have started out in music back in 2008. “But it’s true,” the DJ informs us, “back then I was a hip hop dancer.”
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He was placed at Real Warrior and the Dam Sen Cup in 2009, and at Beat It in 2013. But by then he’d already discovered he had a voice for MC-ing that was “something like Lil Jon’s” so he gradually quit dancing and hopped on the mic at different shows. Now he’s one of Saigon’s hottest DJs with regular sets at places like Candi Shop and Zion.
“I MC-ed at a lot of big shows across the country, Escape Festival, Future Now, Fuse Night Out, Monsoon, Heineken Countdown, Tiger Remix…” UncleBOO remembers. Gradually, just like transitioning from dancing to MC-ing, he got into something else new. “And so I became a DJ around 2016,” he explains. His first ever set was at Canalla. The place was packed. “And everyone was into my music from that very first show,” he nods proudly.
We wonder which party he’d remember most if he quit today. “Definitely Different Room,” he answers immediately. “It was actually a series of events. Some moments me and the other guys had there were unforgettable. We had to stop because we were all heading off in different directions, but I want to bring the Different Room concept back in future…”
So we took UncleBOO, one of our favorite DJs in town, back to his childhood estate, and then over to Blanche bar+dessert where he sometimes plays, for a shoot…and to get his ten tracks that soundtrack his life in music so far.
How did you get the name UncleBOO? And is there an Aunty Boo?
Back in my dancing days, my name was Boogie. The same when I started MC-ing. Then my friends and crew began endearingly calling me Uncle Boo, just for fun, so that kind of stuck. So I used that as my name when I became a DJ. And Aunty Boo is an extremely beautiful girl from the Ukraine.
We know you as UncleBOO but how would your mom introduce you?
She’d say I’m obedient, gentle…and very naughty! I’d say I’m damaged but not broken…
What does music mean to you?
Man, it’s just this indispensable thing. As soon as my studies ended, it just consumed my life. Dancing to music, yelling into the microphone, then playing my favorite jams. The other component is people, seeing their reaction. Plus, personally, I still get goosebumps when I hear a tune that blows my mind too
What part does music play in your daily life?
Every morning I’m straight into it. I’ll spend two or three hours searching for new tracks, and then another hour or two learning to mix the tracks. And every week I have a catch up with the ChusClub crew sharing music…and getting drunk.
How have your listening habits changed as you’ve got older?
My parents used to have a coffeeshop, so there was always music playing when I was a kid. I still remember what was playing, lots of Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, Toy-Box, lots of 90s classics. I could do the moonwalk when I was four or five, which made my parents very proud! Now, I’m into bass-heavy sounds, club bangers, hip hop, and mashups.
What’s the most underrated genre of music? And the most overrated?
Underrated? I think jazz music, especially the more soulful stuff! Ever since I was young, my tastes were diverse. But I rarely came across much jazz. Now I can’t get enough. And overrated? I think V-Pop. It’s just too emotional for me. Too much negative energy. I can’t take it.
You have one track to make someone love music. What do you play them?
Zaz’s “Les Passant”! I don’t understand the lyrics, but still, I love this track. The sound, the solo parts, the simplicity, and the soaring sound from each instrument.
What song would you like played at your wedding? And which at your funeral?
At my wedding, “Something About Us” by the recently retired Daft Punk. I’ll probably sing this song myself that day: ”I need you more than anything in my life, I want you more than anything in my life, I’ll miss you more than anyone in my life, I love you more than anyone in my life.”
And at my funeral, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. ”Been spendin’ most their lives livin’ in a gangsta’s paradise.”
Describe this mix you’ve made specially for The Dot Magazine in a few words.
Chill, hood, sexy!
What mood should your mix put the listener in?
It’s filled with positivity, like me. We all had a tough year, so we need these vibes in our lives. When I was putting the mix together I pictured a bright future, parties and good times, being up on stage, the energy of the crowd…
How does the character of this mix reflect your character and life experiences?
I’d describe myself as a humble playa! I’m independent, I got my eyes on the money, but more importantly I’m rich because of the great moments I’ve spent with the incredible people in my life, all the brothers and the pretty girls.
The songs I’ve chosen are mostly mashups that mix new school music with old school beats. I want to show off all the things I’ve learned in my journey in music. I think you can listen to it anywhere, whether driving, doing sports, chilling with the homies, doing housework…
Finally, can you tell us more about the tracks you’ve chosen?
We start off with that soulful jazz vibe I was talking about. Louis Armstrong with “La Vie En Rose”. That dreamy trumpet, and that soulful voice. It’s like falling in love. Then I chose Asaf Avidan’s “One Day”. After falling in love with Louis Armstrong, we’re back down to earth with a song tinged with pain and regret.
After that, Hai Bang’s “Round Earth.” This is a reminder that no matter what happens in your life, the world keeps spinning. Just keep absorbing the positive energies and continue to grow. Next up, the peerless Talking Heads with “Psycho Killer.” It tells me to embrace the madness, to live with and accept our emotions, and to always do the right thing. XXYYXX’s “You Are Why Am I Invisible” gives me feels. And Sujlul’s “Post Malates” is a body mover.
Josh Pan’s “Voom” is a body mover too, so close your eyes and imagine you’re flying. By this point you’ve definitely been baptized with good music, so I’m throwing in Spillage Village’s “Baptize”.
After that, Lil Dicky’s “Earth”. Me and my girl have about twenty different pets! I love being surrounded by them, it’s like being at one with nature, something we should all endeavour to do. And we finish with “Up” by Earthgang. My idols and inspiration. I hope this mix inspired you too…
Photos by Nghia Ngo for The Dot Magazine and special thanks to Blanche bar+dessert for hosting part of the shoot.