A Phởq’Interview with Johàn

Originally hailing from Wales, Johàn is now residing in Saigon after spending 4 years in the northern capital of Hanoi. From dreamy Balearic atmosphere to tribal-afro-sounds mixed in with some dynamic house music, his passion for travelling aims to incorporate some world sonority into his sets.

Phởq’Interview by Violette Leboucq

Speed Phởq’ing 💐

Meeting people, one after the other, in order to get to the heart of the matter and determine if the person can be seen again.

  • What is your dream name for the interview?

My dream name for this interview would be El Patron — Don Johán as I often title myself (in jest) as a Don Corleone style Godfather to my family members and close friends. It’s a family joke, got stuck with it now.

My actual name is often a bit of a tough one for people to begin with, which is why I switched to the more ubiquitous Johàn. When I first start to DJ I was using my welsh authentic name, Ioan, but more & more time I used it people kept thinking I was a female Vietnamese DJ. I was facing many “oh we were expecting to see a girl”. It’s still closely tight to my real name but it gives some exotic Swedish consonants

  • Indeed I do expected a girl. Does Don Johàn is more into BBQ or Sushi night ?

100% BBQ — I like to cook my meat. I like to see it roasting on the grill. BBQs are perfect for meeting up people. I was once given some amazing sashimi chicken in Kobe, Japan. So I’ll be totally into mixing both concepts.

  • How did you end-up where you are located now ?

I grew up in Wales, in a very small rural town with nearly 2000 people. When I turned 18, I spent a year in Canada. I was snowboarding over there with two friends, this is where I started to grow up and have fun experiences with people from different parts of the world. I then came back to Wales to study my teaching degree.

I had always been a typical music head who often took control of the music at early house parties and gatherings but it wasn’t until University where I first fell in love with electronic music. Many friends around me were DJs and started to teach me the basics.

Initially it was through blogs such as Feel my Bicep and the lesser known YoucancallmePelski who would often feature old 90s house artists as well as up and coming producers from London, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol.

I was in Cardiff and at the time the city was beginning to make a name for itself for small, intimate DIY parties (Studio 89, Teak, Delete) in tiny, secretive venues under the city’s noodle shops and antiques emporiums. I knew I wanted to start DJing after seeing Prosumer play to a group of about 80 sweaty people in a packed out room no larger than WAM’s upstairs. It was insane.

Multiple visits to Gottwood Festival, Love International and Glastonbury further established my love for all things electronic music and inspired me to take up record collecting and DJing more seriously. In around 2013, I got my first pair of turntables and started to collect records.

When I graduated from University I applied for some teaching positions in several countries. Eventually I had to choose between Hanoi and Colombia. I moved to Hanoi in 2016 and met the Savage crew, shortly after I arrived. Ouissam (Savage’s Founder) took me for a coffee, we had this deep conversation about music and life stuff. Shortly after I got to play at Savage’s opening night alongside Tung Tim and Tok. I met Thomas who not too long after booked me for his Studio Adventure parties. I then had the opportunity to play in Equation Festival and Duality Festival.

However, I was doing a very high energy consuming job at this time and it was hard to balance between both life. Fast forward 4 years and I’ve moved South and continue to hone my skills on the energetic Saigon scene. I really love Vietnam, which understands more and more electronic culture. It’s a very new scene here so we got more excitement about the local crowd.

  • One word about Vietnam ?

UNPREDICTABLE.

  • Can you tell us the story behind this picture ?

Ahahaha. It’s an extremely low quality picture, dating back to 2007 or 2008. It was taken on the beautiful Vancouver Island. At this time, we were visiting a reserve and we did act in a quite suspectful manner. In my defense it’s not me but Dylan (the no-pant guy) who was a very close friend. As you can see I wasn’t, and I’m still not, very confident with this picture.

  • When we take a look at your pictures you seem someone reckless. Do you like adventures ?

Yes I’m really keen on adventures and traveling. I went to Fansipan Mount in North Vietnam last year . I 100% recommend it — especially around March which is the best time to do it — you’ll need to get a guide and some good shoes.

Salar d’Uyuni (Bolivia) — 3,663m elevation — second world largest salt lake in world.

Music Noodle Scoop 🍲

A noodle soup is a variety of soup composed of noodles and other ingredients served in a light broth. The noodles may have been made with rice, wheat or eggs. Nothing related to a limp penis.

  • A Wat de Phởq track?

Anything off Mutsumi’s self titled Mutsumi LP which was co-produced by her husband Maurice Fulton. The album is completely insane with wild Japanese lyrics over jarring kicks and random electronic sounds. I like the uncompromising approach from this album and its tip of the cap to punk which I grew up listening to. It has just had a re-release on Phonica too. Breastmilk, No more fake tits, Pimp Slap — These are all Wat de Phởq titles off the album.

Mutsumi — Mutsumi LP [UTTER 5] — UTTTER Records
  • A Wat De Phởq vinyl artwork ?

For this answer I’ll use my father’s influence and choose ‘Trout Mask Replica’ by the inimitable Captain Beefheart. I used to hate listening to Beefheart while riding along in the car with my Dad but as I’ve grown older it has become more of a nostalgic memory.

Captain Beefheart — Trout Mask Replica (Straight Records — 1969)

He’s for sure a Wat de Phởq original in his wild and left field approach to blues and musical experimentation. Nostalgic memories —I really appreciate the experimental aspect and the impact it had on the rock and blues music scene.

  • Your dad seems to have transmitted to you this artistic fiber. What’s his background ?

He’s been an art teacher for many years but he’s retired now. He always played music at home and thanks to him I grew up listening to a good and wide selection.

  • You had the chance to play in Japan. What were the venues you had gigs in ?

In Kobe — where I had my first sashimi chicken — it was a gig organized by a friend from Hanoi, in a very typical Japanese bar called Umid. It was actually the size of your kitchen. Even if almost no one could speak english, it was a very fun gig, with smoky and dark vibes. I also remember a lot of naked Japanese guys. I was naked everyday in public baths (ofuro - お風呂) — so I really had good times there.

I also played in Tokyo, thanks to my friend Teru who organized a gig in Tengu Shokudo bar. It was beforehand a snowboarding-oriented trip so this gig was unexpected. The problem was that everyone there was playing vinyl. I didn’t bring any records from my collection. I do remember that Teru travelled all around Tokyo trying to find some CDJs for the night. Eventually, he made the gig happen.

Tengu Shokudo Dj Bar in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Are you into music production ?

I’d like to try — had small tries with friends but nothing concrete yet. George (aka. Jauge) often asks me to start co-producing a track with him. Hopefully in the near future.

  • An EP you would produce ?

It would be Tribal World Music Sound but including a more punchy kick.
The concept is closed to “House”. It’s a language I speak with my welsh family and friends. It would definitely have some welsh roots. I’ll make the artwork from one of my dad’s paintings — very friendly, psychedelic and colorful pieces.

3D Animation made with brotein =≥ here ≤=

Naws EP
- Johàn featuring Mike Huckaby
- Phởq Records 2020

  • Any recent dig you’d like to share with us ?

Breaka — The Startup [Off Beat]

I also recommend EYE Q Records & PACIFIC Records.

Pillow Phở’lk 🛏️

Pillow is the relaxed, intimate conversation that often occurs between two sexual partners after sexual activity, usually accompanied by hugs, caresses, kisses and other physical contact.

  • A Wat De Phởq anecdote about you?

Last year. I competed in an amateur powerlifting invitational in a warehouse in Hanoi. It was a bit of fun but ended up being pretty intense with live streams, lots of strong and scary Vietnamese guys, me and my friend. It was a great time and I placed 7 out of 14.

In the middle of a weight lift, it’s the less embarrassing one.
  • Your definition of a “Club” ?

Escape. Meet. Return.
I used to enjoy dark, sweaty clubs for the escapism they provide clubbers. I remember heady nights where you’re slammed up against the front of the crowd watching a live band or a DJ set and you truly feel you are in the throngs of a gig. On the flip side to that, I feel a club needs to be a place to meet people so a quieter section to chat and drink is also vital in my opinion.

I’ve met some close friends and my girlfriend in clubs so conversation space is key. It used to be the smoking areas back in the UK but here it seems they aren’t quite the same. Finally, a club needs to draw you back time and time again. Whether it’s the energy, the music, the curation, the crowd or a bit of everything, a great club should always pull you back for new experiences.

  • Any clubs that marked you ?

I’m confident with small and intimate venues. In Vietnam, I’d tell every music-lover to experiment Savage in Hanoi and The Observatory in Saigon. However in Europe, I really enjoyed About Blank in Berlin but I’ve been a big fan of Plastic People in London which unfortunately closed two years ago.

  • Your final commandment Don Johàn ?

Thank you Violette for this opportunity to say things I’ve never said to anyone. I love talking to new people — this is essentially why I’m here in Vietnam. So if there’s anything I said during the interview that someone liked : just come talk to me ! Keep it Wat De Phởq guys.

Johàn’s mix for Phởq FM : coming soon.

.Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohanSound
.Soundcloud : https://soundcloud.com/im89

Weird [TV-Radio-Mag-Label] promoting electronic & absurd stuffs. 📍Hanoï, Vietnam