music • 18 Jan, 2017
AAMIXTAPE: LOTUS DISCO
The Queen of Disco Makes Us a MixTape
Born and raised in Saigon, Bongz Nguyen aka Lotus Disco has been labelled the “new young Queen of Disco” by those that know him. After smashing parties and festivals from Beijing to London, Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, this young aficionado moved to San Francisco, from where he’s been spinning, voguing and generally dominating sets all over the US.
Having recently flown ‘home’ to be on the lineup for Boiler Room’s first ever broadcast from Vietnam (at Savage in Hanoi) we caught up with this master of the dance-floor before he flew back stateside to ponders his European conquest. He also made us a delicious mixtape!
Whaddup Bongz? We love your stage name! What’s the story behind Lotus Disco?
To be honest with you the name came about very naturally. I thought very simply that the “Lotus” is the national flower of Vietnam and I play disco music. It wasn’t until using this name for a while that I learned more about it, especially when I asked my friends on Facebook “Who Da Funk Is Lotus Disco?!” My buddy Robin Lee from Faze Action replied and told me that my name is about bringing people together, even people we might not consider friends - “they have to be welcome at the disco.”
Cool, could you tell us a bit about this new mixtape you made for us?
Ah, with limited time it was quite hard to a make a mixtape, so I thought why don’t I show you what I do every morning.
Everyday I wake up at 6am to get ready for work and I always turn on music to get fresh, do some dancing and walk to the office with my headphone on. It’s a totally different set to one you may listen to at prime time in the club. It’s soulful, vocal and very powerful, but also relaxed - motivation to express yourself and do your best everyday.
You just played a set at Vietnam’s first ever Boiler Room broadcast at Savage in Hanoi. How’d it go? What was your favorite track you dropped during the set?
Wow! Boiler Room X Savage was amazing. The day before I was nervous, because all eyes were on me. People were looking forward to my set but luckily I had huge support from my friends.
People came to that show to express themselves, which was the original vibe of Disco during the late 1970s and 1980s. I played most of my favourites records, which are gonna be on my 1st compilation album of rare disco by Expansion Records in the UK, but I think my favorite moment was when I dropped “It Must Be Love” by Alton McClain. I really love her records man! My manager actually organised her live show in London back in October last year, and she’d never sung live before. I was suppose to play after her show but it turned out I couldn’t make it.
We’ve listened to your Boiler Room set and we loved it. How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard you play?
I don’t describe my sound but it’s kinda like my real personality. How I feel, how I react to this life. I try to tell stories through the music and I just let other people describe it because they can do it better than myself.
What music were you listening to growing up?
As soon as I was old enough to dance, sing or lip sync I did it with Nhu Quynh’s “Nguoi Tinh Mua Dong”, that was the first record to change my life! Later, my father would listen to Boney M which was very popular in Saigon before 1975. That hook set the standard for disco now.
“Voguing” is clearly one of your passions. How did you get into it?
It’s not my passion at all, it’s part of my life. It’s a way of showing how I “throw shade” onto this life. I remember seeing voguing for the first time when my ex showed me the movie “Paris Is Burning”. This opened my mind about gay culture in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s. At that time homosexuals still didn’t have standing in ‘normal’ society, so in the movie, by living together they shared their life with each other; like a family. This is what we also do with music. We create a place where we can all be accepted. So to me, “voguing” is not really a dance style, it’s about culture and community, but I guess it’s also the best way to express my inner ‘Diva.’
Where would you take us on a night out in Saigon?
Whenever I come back to Saigon I like to go to OMG bar and look at my city. It brings back a lot memories, sitting there talking about ideas and opinions on life, with glass of red wine. For me that’s a great night already.
What’s your favourite city in terms of music culture?
London is always the best place to join music culture, where all underground artists have the chance to express themselves, where people support each other.
The best club you’ve ever been to?
Kaiku Club in Helsinki, Finland. This is the best place I’ve been. I had massive fun there.
Your signature drink?
Hmm, it’s either Corona, Apple Cider or Sangria.
Finish this sentence: It’s never too late to… plan to make your dreams come true.
Words by jonaspin
Graphic: Thanh Dương