On The Radar: VAUS
by Annette Lucero

SIM: Welcome Vong! To begin, can you tell our readers what triggered your decision to start producing, and how long have you been producing for?

Vong: I first started to produce a little over a year ago, and initially I decided to start producing because music has and will always be my first love. It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do ever since I could remember, and also I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted to have original work that myself or others could play in front of crowds, whether it’s in front of just a few people or a crowd of thousands; I wanted my music to have a life-changing positive impact in people’s lives.

SIM: Did you go to school for production, or are you self-taught?

Vong: No, I am self-taught with a mix of taking some online courses/tutorials with Academy.fm and other monthly online courses, learning from my peers or collabs with friends, and utilizing all the resources I can find the interweb. I do plan to attend school for production in the near future to get a better understanding and grasp of everything because there’s a whole universe to learn about the art of production.

SIM: Amidst all of the music you’ve DJed, which genre do you currently produce in?

Vong: Progressive House is home and is the genre I primarily produce in, but because they can bounce so well off each other, I do have some experience with Electro and Big Room. I try not to limit my imagination to just one specific genre. As of recently, I’ve been making a lot of Melodic/Future Bass music, and I love it!

SIM: Going off of your current Melodic/Future Bass binge, is there another moniker you produce under?

Vong: Yes, another moniker I produce under is Ozesen, and that moniker is based off the Melodic/Future Bass genre. I think one of the most difficult things for me as an artist is finding a name that fits “you” and “your style” of music.

SIM: Especially when you listen to and mix so many different kinds of music. Did you have a musical background before you started to produce?

Vong: I used to play the guitar and perform song covers before I was introduced to EDM, and I still do every now and then. The first DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) I learned to produce on was Garage Band. I think to me it was a great introduction to music production because it was simple to understand yet it still did the same job as any DAW, and it eased me into Logic Pro X, which is similar in many ways but far more superior. I remember looking at Ableton Live and FL Studio and all the other DAWs, and I remember getting so overwhelmed with literally everything.

Eventually I decided to move onto Ableton Live because of how many user-friendly tutorials and courses were based off it, and that’s the current DAW I use. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever jump back on Logic Pro X, however. It really just depends on my preferences.

SIM: We’ve had a few locals mention Garage Band as one of their starting points for production programs, and it’s kind of crazy to sit back and think about how far music software has come. Have you shared some of your work publicly, or have you only been testing it out quietly here and there?

Vong: To be honest, I haven’t released much original content out, but the few snippets that I’ve leaked out I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and support from friends, fans, and peers. With that being said, I feel like my interactions with other local artists and promoters improve as I improve as an artist.

SIM: It’s awesome to hear that you’re conscious of your growth as both an artist and local. Are there any obstacles that come to mind when you think of your journey here in the Twin Cities?

Vong: Finding the time to balance my personal life, work, and music is definitely the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome starting out. Music itself is a full-time agenda. When I’m not listening to new music, I’m organizing my music or working on a set for a show. More often than not, I don’t even have time to work on a set, and I just go roll with the punches. When I’m not working on organizing music for a show, I’m constantly trying to put together a piece, whether it’s an original or a remix.

SIM: Wow, creating a set on the fly is no easy feat! We can only imagine how difficult and rewarding it must be when everything falls into place at the right time. Do you have a manager or team behind you, working to keep you on-track with your production schedule?

Vong: Yes, I’ve always been a firm believer that behind every successful person is a successful team. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with my manager Frank to keep me in check and to keep me pushing forward towards my goals by providing myself and other local artists the opportunity to utilize his time and space to turn our dreams into a reality! I also try to write down realistic monthly goals and accomplish them, and that has been a huge help for staying on task and getting myself more out there.

SIM: It’s incredible to hear that you’re visualizing your goals and making them a reality – props to you on the self discipline…that is not an easy task! How has networking in the local scene helped mold your perspective of working in the music industry?

Vong: Over the past few years my perspective of the music industry has widened a lot. I’ve gotten to meet some of the most amazing people I’ve ever come across and I’ve had the opportunity to meet not such good individuals and learn from that as well.

SIM: Good for you Vong, there is no shortage of difficult people to work with, yet you seem to take it in stride. On the opposite end of the spectrum, how difficult has it been for you as a local to have your material be given a chance?

Vong: In the day and age we live in, we have it so much easier to get our music heard. However, I think that as a local, if it’s not a proper and quality-sounding mix, people will turn away from the idea of giving your music a chance, and it’s very unfortunate. It shouldn’t be that way. The big part of “locals” being “locals” is that we’re all looking for that one chance to make an impression on anyone, really. It’s a tough industry and there’s always going to be a lot of expectations, especially if you’re up on that stage and some people are more open-minded about it than others, but I truly think everyone should support their locals. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere and it’s definitely not anywhere near the top but as you see your locals grow and develop their skills, you would be amazed how far that one chance goes!

SIM: There is a lot of truth in the struggle you just identified, Vong. For some reason, people sometimes don’t realize that the headliner once started out as the early opener, and that they too made mixing mistakes and progressed. Personally, we love seeing locals grow. It can be much more interesting to see a wild card local play, than say a standard headliner set, because you don’t know what to expect from your locals sometimes. Do you have any experiences you would like to share that shed light on your growth as a local?

Vong: I think being humble, kind, and respectful to your fans, other local artists, and just anyone in general, has a huge impact on your growth. Not only that, but it really changes how people see you when you’re up on that stage!

SIM: And besides staying grounded, what have been some of your favorite moments as a local?

Vong: I think by far my favorite moment as a local is when I receive all the tremendous amount of support from my family, friends, and fans. It didn’t matter if they were from out of town or if they were at another show, they would make it to my set. It’s a very humbling experience and it grounds me to never forget who I am and where I came from.

SIM: It’s great to hear that you remember invaluable moments like that. Do you have any upcoming goals you are trying to hit?

Vong: My biggest goal right now is to complete a couple of originals I’ve been working on. I believe that’s what it should come down to first and foremost. Beyond that is gaining the opportunity to play for more music festivals next year by networking, gaining more exposure through shows, and self-promoting. Of course, these are just a couple of my goals and I have a lot of work to do!

SIM: Going off of that future vision, what is something you hope never changes about yourself as you become more successful?

Vong: I hope to never lose sight of my vision for music and the positive impact I want to make.

SIM: Thank you Vong for taking the time this week to speak with SIMshows. Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Vong: You can follow me and updates for upcoming shows on my social media in the links below!