Trinh Thanh: The Blacksmith of Hanoi Metal Scene


Even if you’re not working in the sound field, if you often go to music shows around Hanoi, somehow, you might have heard the name “Trinh Thanh”. Even in the “mecca” of Rock and Metal Hanoi – Hanoi Rock City – there are few people who can make the sound for such heavy music as good and thoughtful as him.

People always see the image of Trinh Thanh highly focused, paying attention to the smallest detail behind the mixer, or lighting a cigarette and immersed in the music of… Ha Tran when the Metal bands are preparing on the field. To the extent that in a way, when Trinh Thanh agrees to take care of the sound, the brothers who organize the music show can breathe a sigh of relief.

If you haven’t heard of him? That’s okay, because now we are about to enter the story of a “Sound Blacksmith”, a soundman with extremely good skills and special enthusiasm for Rock – Metal in Hanoi!

Hello Mr. Trinh Thanh, can you share about how you came to the sound profession?

Trinh Thanh: I came to this profession when I was 18 years old, and started with a very familiar program: Rockstorm. I started by doing backstage for Rockstorm.

Wow you’ve been in the business for so long! So what would you describe your profession in 3 words?

Trinh Thanh: I’m sure about this, those 3 words will be “Very Very Hard”

The brothers in the profession all teased that you are a person of singular passion that you’d listen to the music of… Ha Tran to relax in the middle of a break of Metal bands. So which genre of music do you find, as you mentioned above, the most difficult?

Trinh Thanh: In this profession, the first thing is that I am exposed to many different genres of music. Because Pop is very popular and extremely familiar to the audience, in general, making sound will always be a little more stressful. Not to mention that Pop has always had a lot of musical instruments, and Pop bands always have a lot of members in different positions, so sitting behind the mixer table always has to stress to make everything look perfect.

What about the opposite, what kind of music do you find most comfortable, and why?

Trinh Thanh: Rock! I grew up with this genre of music, so it is very convenient to approach and work with. Listening to Rock a lot, every time I make the sound, I feel very familiar, but not because of that, I lose the level of detail, I am even more meticulous. But in general, Rock always gives me the feeling of “Doing like playing”, the more difficult it is, the more…I like it.

What else led you to the Metal brothers, as well as becoming an indispensable part of this community?

Trinh Thanh: From about 2017. Although I also listened to Metal a long time ago and played music a bit. I officially joined as a soundman in Morning Waits‘s album launch show. I’ve known each other in the Metal world before, all of us share the same passion, but only then can I begin to balance my life after a long time of apprenticeship and hard work, as well as starting to work and have enough time and experience to support others in pursuing this music genre.

Do you think that Metal is the music that “breaks the speaker and harms the piano” like people say?

Trinh Thanh: That joke has… two sides of the problem. It’s fun, but it’s also sad that in Vietnam there are still very few people who can properly do sound for Metal shows. Just blindly doing it, even “Must be crushed to be Metal” will lead to damaging instruments. But I think that of all Metal players, no one wants to break their guitar, even the ones who keep their belongings the most careful.

How do you support music communities like Metal, Indie, Alternative, etc?

Trinh Thanh: It’s also difficult to tell, from technique to stage management, there’s even Hung Troc below to handle urgent situations. I think the role of a sound maker is only to support you with…just work, sometimes “sponsor” them like a better mic or amp, lend you a drum kit or just guide “dreamers” how to make a good sound. But anyway, for any show, we want to support as much as we can.

So after years of working with the Metal brothers, how do you feel about the journey of this music genre in Vietnam, from the audience, to the bands and even the show?

Trinh Thanh: Of course, it’s slowing down a bit. The whole world is slowing down a bit due to the Covid 19 pandemic. I don’t have much access to young people, they are much younger than me, so I don’t know whether they are listening and following the stream or not. But the music shows where I was the soundman recently are definitely more crowded than in previous years, and there are not only familiar faces but also new audiences. I think it’s a positive sign that there are younger and newer people coming and listening to the music we pursue.

So which band have you worked with that impressed you the most?

Trinh Thanh: Morning Waits, Iteu, Xanh 8+1, Recycle and Windrunner. I have been working directly with them, very happy, very professional and detail-oriented.

Do you have any advice for the people you work with, or even other artists around the country?

Trinh Thanh: The most useful, I think, is to listen to music, listen to everything at a moderate volume to avoid damaging your ears…

Well, what about the soundcheck process, about going on stage to perform?

Trinh Thanh: Well, this one, I think you should learn a little about the technical aspects of the equipment, the stage technique, as simple as what was on your stage? That knowledge will help you communicate with the technical side more easily, as well as control where you hit the sound, how much you need to listen to, where the sound is missing. When both sides are in control and have effective communication with each other, you will improve your performance even more, right?

Speaking of performances, what do you think a successful performance on stage needs? In Vietnam in particular, have we done it well?

Trinh Thanh: Well, there are a lot of factors, from equipment, to people, and even the band. If in particular the area I am most knowledgeable about is equipment, from drums to amplifiers to guitars, mixers are all dependent on “How much you pay for it”. People are a technical matter in general for both listeners and workers, if you have never listened to Rock, making sound for a Rock show will of course be extremely difficult, isn’t it. As for the band, there’s no need to discuss further, there’s nothing that can save a band from playing wrong… I see in Vietnam everything is developing at a very fast pace, from the equipment being upgraded continuously to the level of young artists, unfortunately some music genres still don’t have many big stages to show their abilities…

If others want to pursue a career like you’re now, where can young people learn?

Trinh Thanh: In Vietnam, there are a number of schools with specialized training in that profession, such as University of Theatre and Performing Arts in Hanoi or College of Television. As for me, I’m mainly self-taught, working while studying as well as learning by doing in the profession to gain more experience.

So after years of learning by doing in the profession, what is the memory that you are especially proud of?

Trinh Thanh: Rockstorm. It’s not the first time I did backstage, but it wasn’t until I got to follow everyone to do a tour. Those were my first beginner lessons, the stage opened up a new world for me, I kept whispering “Ah, it sounds like this”, “Ah, so the mic has to be stuck here”. I can also stand in the wings watching my idols, watch my brothers “burning” on stage.

Trinh Thanh and Morning Waits at Rock ‘n’ Share 2019

So what are your plans in the near future?

Trinh Thanh: Of course, first of all, I will continue to support my brothers to play music whenever they need it, as well as maintain the Dam Tron Fest playground. It’s sad that there was a technical problem at the time of the Fest 3, causing the drum kick face to be torn, but this time we are determined to do the best we can, “revenge” for the kick face! “Confidentially”, Round Dress Fest 4 will have 3 great names participating.

At the beginning of the article, you said that this profession is “Very Very Hard”, but as I can see you are deeply intrigued and passionate. If you have a chance to choose again, will you continue with this profession?

Trinh Thanh: I will still follow the profession, for sure. If I don’t have a career, I want to become… the very people I’m working with right now, becoming an artist, a real musician on stage.

Thank you Mr. Trinh Thanh for sharing with Whammy News today, hopefully you will stay strong and continue to be the “sound blacksmith” behind the success of the capital’s live music community!