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Monsoon Festival: Keeping Hanoi's music scene alive

By Staff reporters   November 17, 2017 | 01:30 pm GMT+7
Monsoon Festival: Keeping Hanoi's music scene alive
Monsoon Music Festival 2017. Photo courtesy of the organizer

The festival's organizer is clinging on to his ambitious goal as the location factor chips in. 

It’s monsoon season in the capital. The everyday rhythms of honks, car engines and chatter faded, as international artists and Vietnamese indie bands rocked the serene Imperial Citadel on November 10.

Hanoi now has serious potential for music festivals, and international DJs hitting the capital's clubs are a common sight.

But keeping the scene alive remains a major challenge for pioneers like Quoc Trung.

Trung, a famous Vietnamese composer and record producer who foresaw the potential of a booming music scene, laid out a plan four years ago for a signature product in Hanoi: the three-day annual Monsoon Music Festival. The venue: the peaceful and revered Imperial Citadel.

For four years, Monsoon has brought home much-anticipated international artists such as the electric violin quartet legend Bond, and German rock legends Scorpions. This year's festival featured Lost Frequencies, the Belgian DJ famous for his international hits ‘Reality’ and ‘Are You With Me’.

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Quoc Trung, the man behind Monsoon Festival. Photo by VnExpress

Quoc Trung insists on his ambition of gearing young Vietnamese towards a better taste in music.

“It’s not just about the big names. Here at Monsoon, audience also embrace new talents and different genres of music,” he told VnExpress.

Monsoon Festival 2017 welcomed mostly indie artists and bands: Ngot (Sweet) and DaLab of Vietnam, Biuret of South Korea and BUD of the UK - all of whom pursue a much mellower style than what’s usually seen at EDM festivals.

But maintaining such a cultural icon requires hard work. For four years, the producer claims the festival hasn’t made a profit, despite being sponsored by big names like Tuborg and Vietnam Airlines.

“I have to pay off the deficit myself, but I’m still happy,” said Quoc Trung as he closed the curtain on November 12.

The Imperial Citadel, though a desired place to host a cultural event, is refusing to host Monsoon next year. One of the quietest areas in Hanoi, after all, is not a professional music venue.

The Monsoon team had to move their schedule three times this year at the request of the citadel.

“A few artists accepted changes to the dates the first time and second time, but they couldn't take it the third time,” Quoc Trung told VnExpress.

Next year, whether Monsoon continues its music dream at a new venue or fades into oblivion remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the city’s hunger for music is still there. 

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Vietnam Airlines is the annual sponsor of Monsoon Music Festival. Alongside classical music nights and A-list performances, the country's flag carrier also supports independent and emerging artists since 2014.