Our Special Guests Reflect On 2022: “DJing In A Wheelchair Was Pretty Unforgettable!”

That was intense, for all of us. Out of the dark days of the pandemic, Saigon shifted back into gear, and the acceleration was hard to handle. However, thinking back over the last couple of years, we’d prefer not to complain. To mark the end of 2022, an upside down year full of full-throttle happiness and heartbreaks, we’ve gathered together some special guests to share their stories in our year-end recap.

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

Everyone involved in our end-of-year recap had a big year, one way or another. There were broken legs, and culinary rebirths, babies born, Coachella shows, and cocktail competitions (almost) won.

Who are you and what do you do?

Vinh Q. Le: I’m CEO of Ngoc Suong. My mission, these days, is to grow the brand. And also, to kickstart some other hospitality businesses to bring to life the vibes and the culture that have inspired me.

Levi Oi: Levi Oi here! I’m a DJ from Germany. And I’m living in this beautiful city of Saigon.

Bao La: I’m Bao La and I guess I’m somewhat of a nomadic chef. I was born in Australia with some Vietnamese heritage. And currently you’ll find me hanging out and cooking Chinese-inspired bites at Madam Kew at 37 Ky Con. 

DemonSlayer: I’m Dan Nguyen, also known by my artist name DemonSlayer. I was born and raised in LA and moved to Saigon in 2011. I’m a visual artist, creative director, curator, music producer and DJ. But when I first moved back to Saigon, the electronic music scene and the street art scene were almost non existant. So, I had the honor of helping them to grow. Things are different now. The communities are strong, and they inspire me right back.

Alex: I’m Alex. And I’m operations manager at Manhattan Bar. 

Monotape: I’m Monotape, and I’m a producer and DJ living in Ho Chi Minh City. As a DJ I play house, tech house, and melodic techno. And as a producer, I produce a wide range of genres, from pop to electronic music. 

Levi Oi
Levi Oi shot during our The Dot Magazine interview back in July 2019.

Can you describe your 2022 in one sentence?

Vinh Q. Le: I think 2022 was the most beautiful chapter of my life.

Levi Oi: I can even do it in one word: Rollercoaster!

Bao La: This was an incredibly fulfilling year, personally, when I got to travel and cook overseas again. 

DemonSlayer: Much of what was deep and hidden has now been uplifted and brought to light.

Alex: Coming back after two years of lockdown? We can only describe it as an incredible year. 

Monotape: It was a great year, and one in which I grew up a lot!

Personally, what was your highlight, and your low point, of the year?

Vinh Q. Le: The highlight was definitely seeing business come back strongly. At the same time, I got married and had a beautiful baby girl. One low point was losing out on a new District 2 location for Ngoc Suong. I’m still sad about that. 

Levi Oi: I arrived back to Vietnam filled with energy and excitement. And then I immediately broke my leg. Every challenge, I feel, can have an upside. I got to spend my recovery traveling around Asia, seeing new places in Thailand and Indonesia. It became, somehow, very inspiring.

Bao La: I got to spend a few months in France. There, I linked up with some of my favorite natural wine producers, and I got to share my love of Vietnamese food and flavors with them.

DemonSlayer: My highlight is the gift of breath and being alive still, and mentally well. Everyday is a gift. The low point was watching the world get darker and more chaotic before bouncing back. I experienced the same thing internally too. 

Alex: Maybe as the year is almost over, I’m looking back on it with rose-tinted glasses. So, I don’t remember the lowlights. But I do remember the highlights. I did some guest shifts overseas at places like Smalls and Rabbit Hole in Bangkok. And I reached the final round of World Class Vietnam, where I also won the ‘Don Julio Culture Club’ challenge.

Monotape: The highlights were definitely the festivals. I got to play at Creamfields, Weekend Voyage, Ravolution, and Sunlit Festival. During my sets I played a lot of my own tracks, and, reassuringly, people loved them! I also released a melodic techno mix with DJ Dustee for Touliver, and a track with Levi Oi called ‘Thirsty’ – I really love both of those tracks. And lowlights? Since I moved to Saigon, I haven’t seen my family much. And I miss them. 

Bao La
Bao La shot by The Dot Magazine during our piece on natural wine pioneers.

What was your favorite song of 2022? 

Vinh Q. Le: I had a baby. So, all I listen to is baby music. But it all sounds the same to me!

Levi Oi: ‘Massive’ from Drake. But the whole album is so fire! And, from Vietnamese artists, I loved ‘Cơn Đau’ by Wren Evans.

Bao La: Sorry to tell you this, but my Spotify is full of podcasts about farming and sustainability. Not music. I can’t get enough of the ‘We Got The Chocolates’ podcast. It’s hilarious with lots of dad jokes and Aussie humor.

DemonSlayer: My favorite song changes daily. Right now my 1980s Vietnamese New Wave remixes are my top pick. One of my favorites is ‘Hold Me Tight’ (DemonSlayer edit).

Alex: I’m more of an old-school guy. But if pushed to choose a song from 2022, I’m going with ‘Late Night Talking’ by Harry Styles. 

Monotape: Can I choose one of my own? It’s that remix I did with DJ Dustee of the song ‘Kinh Van Hoa (Kaleidoscope).’ We spend so much time on it. I play that song at the start of every DJ set.

Which event or party was the most unforgettable in 2022?

Vinh Q. Le: I have to say my wedding. It was a warm, special event, surrounded by my closest friends and family. Aside from that, I debuted as a DJ under my new moniker, DJ Tèle, in Hanoi’s 1900 Club. But the year’s not over yet. I’m looking forward to our end of year party, with Levi Oi, Demonslayer, Alex behind the bar, and me and Bao La in the kitchen. 

Levi Oi: DJing in a wheelchair was pretty unforgettable! That was for Weekend Voyage, back in March at Air Saigon. I think Weekend Voyage has done a great job this year of bringing underground music and especially techno to a wider audience. That event with the wheelchair was on a Saigon rooftop. And seven months later they’d put together another event on the beach. Besides those, another personal highlight was this year’s Wonderfruit Festival. Also my shows in Hanoi at 1900, Tach Space & Warehouse were special. 

Bao La: In May, I attended my best friend’s wedding. That was special. I saw my closest friends and family again. The trip was supposed to last two weeks. But I ended up staying for four months! It made me appreciate Australia’s natural beauty again.

DemonSlayer: Probably playing Coachella 2022. It was my third time playing the festival, but it was by far the most engaging and thrilling. It still feels surreal. It was great to be surrounded again by friends, fam and fans from all over the world. The first post-panini festival.

Alex: The Nosh Saigon event at Quince. There were all these industry big names gathered together in one place. 

Monotape: The Tunnel #4 at 1900 in Hanoi. I hadn’t played there for some time, so I was excited to come back. The whole night was insane! Everyone played great sets that went from progressive house to hard techno. And people stayed till late. It proved that there’s an increasing appetite for underground music. 

Dan Nguyen DemonSlayer
Dan Nguyen, AKA DemonSlayer, the LA-born DJ and producer who moved to Saigon in 2011. [Photo courtesy of the artist]

What’s your philosophy around new year resolutions?

Vinh Q. Le: I don’t mind them. It’s a good chance to focus and make plans. And to do so while spending a little extra time with loved ones.

Levi Oi: I love new year resolutions, to be honest. It feels good to start the year strong with a lot of energy and good intentions. 

Bao La: Rather than making resolutions, I’m more reflective at this time of year – thinking about progress and not perfection. And thinking about the journey, not the destination.

DemonSlayer: I don’t mind them either. Personally, I try to set some every morning, to set my energy for the day. Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t!

Alex: I’m not sure what a new year resolution is. But, it’s probably a time to make some plans!

Monotape: My philosophy is: the more detailed the better. For example, instead of writing ‘I’m going to work out more this year’ I add more detail, so I’ll say how many days a week, on which days, and at what time. By doing that, it’s easier for me to keep everything on track.

Alexander P Blake
Alex, World Class Vietnam finalist in 2022: “I’m more of an old-school guy.” [Photo courtesy of DIAGEO World Class Vietnam]

What will your resolutions be for 2023? 

Vinh Q. Le: In 2023, I’ll expand my company…and reduce my waistline.

Levi Oi: More parties. More fun. And more community building. I want to play more amazing shows. And I want to make more music. And I want to help bring Vietnam to the world, and the world to Vietnam!

Bao La: Not being a big one for resolutions, I just see it as a time to reset and build some good habits. And then I try to learn and grow a little every day.

DemonSlayer: I intend to be more true to myself. And to not let my overly analytical mind interfere too much. And more action and less waiting for the right moment.

Alex: OK, so I’m definitely going to work harder, and push the limits. But I want to balance that with good health and time with my loved ones.

Monotape: Maybe I’ll grow my hair! I’ve never had long hair before and I want to give it a try. Besides that, I want to make more music, and try to learn coding. I found it quite interesting so far. I think it can help me automate some boring tasks like exporting multitracks. 

Vinh Q. Le
“In 2022, I had a baby. All I got to listen to was baby music. It all sounds the same!” Vinh Q Le as shot by The Dot Magazine in 2020.

Finally, imagine it’s one year on. Can you describe 2023 for us? 

Vinh Q. Le: Epic!


Bao La: If you knew me, and how I approach things, you’d probably be filled with anxiety! I barely know what’s happening next week. So, I don’t have a clue about what 2023 holds. But I’m happy this way. I like to live in the moment.

DemonSlayer: The upcoming generation has shifted the perspective of the world. Old systems are falling and new ones are being put in place. The planet is more peaceful yet somehow also more chaotic.

Alex: The best year ever?  

Monotape: I’m not a renowned fortune teller. But, I have a feeling that 2023 is going to be a great year with lots of cool things. 

Catch up with all the participants in our end-of-year recap for the Ngoc Suong’s New Year Pomelove Supper Club hosted by Levi Oi, featuring food by Vinh Q. Le and Bao La, drinks by Alexander P. Blake, and music from Demonslayer, Monotape and more. 

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