The Flier Designs of Jase Nguyen

Jase is my favourite promoter — and one of my favourite DJs — in Saigon. His DJ sets and the events he organizes are not always beautiful or easy to consume; he doesn’t offer up sick drop after jaw dropping drop nor does he play hit after top 40 hit. What he does do is seamlessly transition from genre to genre, often pushing the boundaries of what is sonically palatable. As such I see him as an educator more than an entertainer.

He is as high-profile as a champion of the underground can become in a scene as commercial as Saigon’s, but what many don’t know is that he also does the art and design for his events’ fliers. They are fantastic and I want to share them with you as well as an interview with the man himself.

You are Saigon’s original bass pioneer. Can you tell us about your different projects? You have The Beats Saigon, Bass Republic, No Star Where, and… anything else?

You could say I started the bass movement in Vietnam (since 2007) — first with The Beats Saigon, which aims to bring more international acts to perform in Saigon, but since international acts come on an irregular basis, I needed a new monthly platform to promote bass events, so I started Bass Republic three years later.

I also co-founded Saigon Rockers which aims to promote purely Reggae and Dub music, and a collective called No Star Where functions as platform for discovering and working with local talents.

Why do you have these different names/groups instead of just one?

Each group has its own purpose and aim, so I make it easier for people to identify with the events they enjoy.

When I went to a No Star Where party I could feel the formation of a scene, like something was about to begin. The kids were not the kids I normally see when I go out, they were there to experience something different. Who are these kids? Where do they normally hang out?

Those guys are skaters, graffers, BMX, MCs, they want to go out an explore new styles, they just need a party that is local friendly and plays more diverse music.

So you organize and promote events, you produce beats, you dj… but that’s not all right? Can you tell us what your day job is?

Besides my music focused job, I work in a mattress production company, exporting foam machines, but soon I will stop this job and force myself to focus more on the music side.

I’m really interested in your flier designs. Sometimes I send you a message like “That’s a great design, who made it?” and you always answer: “I did”. How do you feel about this work that you do to promote your own events?

I studied design back in Sydney, and I had been doing flyer design for my first promotion crew back there (Foreign Dub) since the beginning. I found it very satisfying when designing my own flyer for my own party. I worked in a small production company in Saigon when I first got back, but the designs they demanded were dry and uninteresting, so I had to move on.

Where do you find inspiration?

I play a lot of computer games and read design mags to keep up with what’s fresh (or not fresh), so when I see an interesting shape or colour combination, I think: “wow, this is cool and it would work for this type of flyer”. But a lot of time I just stare at the blank page in Illustrator… like a lot.

What’s your favourite game of all time?

Chrono Trigger. I like the story line, Akira Toriyama’s character designs, the soundtrack, the multiple endings, and the battle system. I also like Metal Gear Solid.

What ties together your body of work? What similarities do you find between event organizing, graphic design, and music composition?

I still find myself in the learning process for all three. The obvious common thread that link these together is they are all media. Doing events helps me to open myself more in a way, it forces me to be more sociable, since I had always been very timid and anti social as a child/young adult.

How about the role of sampling? You make use of classic Chinese and Vietnamese music samples in your hip hop productions, do you do sampling for your graphic designs or event planning?

With graphics, when I feel lazy and just need a quick flyer done up I will employ previous vectors that I created. I also use found image on google as reference of course. As for event planning, I try to be as original as possible, but what is original these days? Originals are just modified copies in a way.

Most of your music production is downtempo hip hop, what draws you to compose this style?

I like slow music, maybe because I’m getting older, I also find with downtempo you can get way more musical and groovy. However my DJ sets are more aggressive.

Why do you think your song Ve Voi Em Di has become so popular? is it one of your favorites too?

It’s one of my favorites, but I think the Vietnamese skit before it, and that pretty much all Vietnamese old samples are used in that beats, makes it popular with the locals — plus it is quite a fun tune.

What keeps you going? I bet you get tired but you keep on producing events, music, design.

It does get tiring sometime, especially when most events involve alcohol. I found my self doing all the work by myself, that’s also a tiring factor, but knowing I produce a great event and play music that people dance too keeps it going for me.

What do you feel is the current state of taste or style in Vietnam and where is it going?

Hipster is in… they’re invading Vietnam.

What surprises do you have in store for the Bass Republic anniversary party? Why are you always going the extra mile to add a personal touch to your events and especially the anniversary events?

Bass Republic Tote BagI’m keeping the tradition of giving away free merchandise of course (the joy of being in Vietnam to produce cheap and decent mercs). I enjoy playing at the anniversaries because I feel so comfortable with the crowd that I have built during the past 7-8 years in Saigon — when I feel relaxed with the crowd I perform my best.

More Info

Come check out the 4th anniversary Bass Republic party this Saturday @Lush.

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