Saigon Hardcore: The Merch Man Interview

Having been photographing the local hardcore scene here in Saigon for a few months now, I find the further I get into it, the more interesting the people behind the music and the scene itself become. Not just the bands, but the fans and people who make the whole thing work.

One of these people is Dương, a young entrepreneur here in Saigon.

This week I sat down with him for a massive cà phê sữa đá and a chat about the hardcore scene here, his own discovery of hardcore music and just where he fits into this growing part of young Vietnamese society.

Full interview and pictures inside.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Dương, but my friends know me as Đặng Dương. I’m a photographer, videographer and bassist. I’m twenty-two years old and I’ve been living in Ho Chi Minh City since I was five.

Right now I’m a technician and photographer for an audio shop. I’ve played music for a while, but working at an audio shop gives me a chance to live with music in a different way. This is important for me because I can’t live without music, especially hardcore music.

“Don’t be afraid of what you don’t yet understand. Just go with the flow”

Can you describe your musical tastes?

I’ve grown up in two centuries so I’ve learned about both the old things and the new things at the same time. When everyone around you is changing, developing, growing up, you have to change too. You have to live in the moment but also learn the new ways.

I don’t hate any genre of music. If it’s good for you, then share it with me. I’ll share with you too. That way we let the music be the connection.

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A pint of street coffee had me buzzing all day.

How did you discover hardcore music?

I found hardcore music four years ago when my friends and I started a band together. We would meet up and hang out with other bands. We talked a lot about music and they introduced me to a new type of music that I’d never heard before. After that I listened to some songs. I didn’t know why this kind of music made me feel so different. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After that I went home and found more songs, more bands, more albums. It was stuck in my head all the time. Later I met some of my best friends because we have the same passion. Hardcore.

“I don’t hate any genre of music. If it’s good for you, then share it with me”

What was it that first attracted you hardcore music? 

When I first listened to hardcore, I found it very exciting. I could just feel the energy off it. I could follow their riffs, their breakdowns. Then I found out hardcore is not just music, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a community of people who use music to express themselves. Each of them has a different personality, grew up in different ways, has different dreams. But together, they create music that can show everyone who they are and exactly what they want to become.

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Can you tell us a little about the hardcore scene in Saigon right now?

Right now the hardcore scene in Saigon has slowed down a little. It’s not as exciting as it was maybe two years ago. Not because it doesn’t have the potential to grow, but it’s just a little piece on the world map of hardcore. But it’s going to get bigger and better day by day. It’s time for the next step and we are seeing that with more bands coming from other countries like Thailand to check out the scene here and play shows.

You are the owner of 2DShop. What is 2DShop and how does it fit into the hardcore scene here in Saigon?

Right now 2DShop is just an online store for people to buy Vietnamese hardcore merchandise but in the future we plan to open a coffee shop where people can come, relax, listen to hardcore and rock music, buy some merch to support local bands and just have somewhere to meet people who share the same passion as them, music.

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One of Dương’s shirts I spotted at the recent Hardcore United show in Saigon. Designed by Vinh and made by 2DShop.

Who are some of your favorite Vietnamese bands?

My favorite Vietnamese bands are The Current Will Carry Us, Knife Sticking Head, InYourEyes, Elevator, Titanium, Quai Vat Ti Hon, Multiplex, Seismic Origin, Microwave, Ngu Cung and Hac San.

And international bands?

My favorite international bands are  Parkway Drive, In Heart Wake, The Amity Affliction, Northlane, While She Sleeps, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, The All-American Rejects, Bring Me The Horizon, letlive, Twenty One Pilots, Greenday, Stick To Your Guns, Being As An Ocean, Beartooth, Daughtry, 30 Seconds to Mars and Avenged Sevenfold.

What would you say to people who are curious about the hardcore scene here in Vietnam?

For the people who are new, don’t be afraid of what you don’t yet understand. Just go with the flow. Try it. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t. But try.

We’re not a big community, not yet, but we’re all friends and hardcore music brings us together. No matter who you are or where you’re from.


Follow 2DShop on facebook for more info as they continue to grow here in Saigon. To find out more about the hardcore scene here in Vietnam check out HCVN.

If you need headphones in Saigon check out Xuan Vu Audio at 98 Cao Thang, Q3.

Follow me on facebook and on instagram for daily pictures of life here in Saigon and Vietnam. 

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