MAQman AKA Minh Anh Quach is a Switzerland- born Vietnamese DJ and producer who plays and produce Deep & Soulful House Music.
Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.
My parents came to Switzerland from Vietnam in the late 60's as students. When the war was lost/or won, they lost their identity as Vietnamese and became Swiss citizen before I was born.
I grew up in a small town called Neuchâtel in the early 80's. There was a famous House Music venue called New York club with international DJ acts, but it shut down because of drugs issues just before I started to go out as a teenager, in the mid 90's.
At that time, I started to collect records, digging in the Soul/Funk/Disco/Rare Grooves styles. Within 2-3 years as a music lover and under some encouragements from people who knew the music I was collecting, I started to send tape demos in bars and clubs to play music. It was only in 2006 that I decided to focus on House Music, as I started to produce my own electronic compositions.
When did you discover that music was your talent and passion?
My first love for music was probably when I saw a dancing elephant show in Thailand when I was 5. I always remembered the chorus and found out a decade later the song was the disco hit ‘Funkytown’, by Lipps Inc.
I wanted to play the drums from the age of 11, but my parents directed me to play the keys. Six years later, I had my first live band show, which I think was a success, although most of the crowd were friends, haha. In 2003, I started to produce other people's music using the recording/arrangements and mixing skills I’d learnt from attending Sound Engineering School.
How would you best describe your genre and was it difficult finding it?
I would say the music I feel is Soulful. I think with the help of close friends, finding my genre somehow came naturally. I just have a thing for soulful vocals, chords and tight grooves.
Who are your top 3 DJ/music producers?
Tough one, there are so many! I'll go by genre; in Disco, I really appreciate what Joey Negro puts out with his remixes from the old tapes’ classics. He works hard to get his hands on and clear out the copyright’s headache. Deep House Music has gotten really saturated, but I admire many producers out there who are still keeping it real with quality tracks. In the Soulful House area, Ralf GUM has been an excellent mentor to me and my releases on his label GOGO Music has helped me to grow a lot as a House Music producer.
Can you remember the very first decks you bought?
I never needed to invest in my own at the start because my parents had some and I spent most of my time literally learning how to spin in clubs. It wasn’t until 2006, when I bought a pair of turntables and a mixer for under $1000.
Who have you really enjoyed working with throughout your music career?
My main singer, Joseph Junior from London and all the vocalists I recorded. The studio musicians and live bands I worked with in Switzerland and last but not least Jezrael Lucero, an amazing key and bass player from Hong-Kong.
You moved back to your home town from Switzerland to HCM City, Vietnam X number of years ago. Do you think this was the right choice in terms of your career as a DJ and producer?
I think there is a higher demand for a DJ residency in Asia, compared to where I’m from in Switzerland.
Throughout my journey in Asia and whilst living in Hong Kong I have met the likes of Ralf GUM, Louie Vega, DJ Spinna and Black Coffee. I’ve travelled to Thailand and Japan for DJ gigs as well. So yes, overall I think it was a good move.
At which point did you start to monetize your passion for producing music?
Except remixes, producing music was never really profitable. Comparing the amount of work and the money you get from these sales is pretty poor. The money I make mostly comes from songs mix downs or mastering.
But I've always produced music because I wanted to, not for the fame, but it's a thirst I have.
What failures did you have to go through to get where you are?
Once I got late to a recording for an important radio. I missed the beginning of the concert and it taught me to give myself more time to set up equipment’s. As a musician, I played wrong notes at big live shows because I didn't rehearse enough. It is pretty embarrassing to realise I did those mistakes.
What was the big event/show which made you think this is my big break through?
I think I'm still waiting for it to happen. It might take place this year, as there are rumours I'll be touring as a DJ in South Africa, something I have been working on since 2012/13. But every time I finish a set and get heartfelt compliments from people, I tell myself I should travel more as a DJ.
I also remember in 2003, I deejayed at NY's Eve for 6 hours straight for about 600 people. As a producer, it was in 2011, my 1st release with a "major" House Music label, GOGO Music.
What’s been your biggest mistake year to date and what have you learnt from this?
Musically, I don't think I've ever done wrong for a whole year. It's more like events in my personal life that got me distracted from producing music. I've always thought not to force it, as in producing music. If you don't feel inspired, don't sit down in the studio looking for the right beat or chords to start a new track. But looking back through my music career, I wish I had been more open minded musically.
One thing you wish you knew when starting out as an artist?
Humility. There is a bunch of musicians in my hometown who dislike me. There was a time I used to do auditions for a drummer or bassist for my own live band. I was really a b*tch. Once, a bassist just left his big amp and never returned to take it.
How did you get your name out there in the early stages?
I used to use Myspace as a platform to showcase my music back in the day. By playing the music I feel as a DJ, by composing the right tracks for singers to choose and write on, at the time when Myspace was at its peak.
Were there times where you wanted to give up and get a 9-5?
I had the option to get freelance gigs as an audio-video technician, working for conferences whenever I go back to Switzerland. But yes, I guess as every artist, that question always comes to mind.
What’s the best advice you can give someone starting out in the music scene?
“Stay true to yourself, but keep an open mind and be patient.”
What’s the big dream for you and the 5-year plan?
Being able to travel around the world whilst DJing.
What brings you real joy at the minute? Like, real unadulterated happiness?
Seeing my toddler son healthy and happy, he just turned three! People on the dance floor, closing their eyes with a big smile on their face or cheering up while I DJ. When people come up to me and say things like "your music made me cry" or "thank you so much for the music tonight".
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it what would it say and why?
"Please only play me some good music, relax and smile".
I can't stand cheap music. I also think it affects the way you interact with other people around you.
12 June, 2019