Good evening from Ho Chi Minh City, ladies and gentlemen. Let me share with you the mix tape, ‘See you Saturday, maybe,’ featuring a few musicians I’ve gotten to listen to often and sometimes even chat with in real life (remember when that was a thing?) about art, composition, intrigue, and sharing.
Every time I hear the Cambodian mix I feel a little homesick for one of my more recent ‘homes’ (I have a lot), namely Phnom Penh, hence the song I’m including from Justatee about the feeling of wanting to go home. it’s a good mood, suddenly, listening and feeling. Of course I have to end it all with Punjabi tunes.
Okay, it’s cool that I got some help with that, like, real life and exchanging language and conversation in a casual, light way, but also, it’s relaxing to be able to pick up on a few lyrics for songs now. So when I’m out and about and I hear something that catches my ear, I ask about it. ‘What is this? I want to know!!’
Edges and reaching beyond those edges..
Slowly learning by osmosis..
And people I meet really love it when I say stuff to them like, ‘Well, I’m your neighbor,’ or ‘Did you guys meet at work?’ I think it means a lot to people when you make a basic effort, and I’m finding that I can do a lot with just a few phrases to ease more fluidly into a place that, seven years ago when I first arrived in Southeast Asia and Hanoi for the first-ever time, um, I was like, completely unaware about anything really meaningful. Now I can see even when I curate the mini-mag S P A C E for stories set here that there are things that are culturally significant and worth sharing, and other things that are just what tourists would quickly snap and leave having snapped it. you know what I mean?
There is more to say about that, see the stuff below at the end of this post about ‘decolonization.’ I mean, well, no, ask AD. I will put more together about how we can arrange that in some future conversation in S P A C E when I get to that, in early 2021, after finishing up our stories set where I am right now, which is Ho Chi Minh. Another month for Atelier S P A C E // HCMC, and then… maybe make a move to another part of the country. Or. Depends on our crowdfunding. Let’s see.
The mixtape is called…
O S M O S I S
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC
all… around… thế giới
‘Đi Về Nhà’
I kind of just really adore this one. I really do. I don’t know what it is but it just makes me feel good vibes. The theme is ‘home’ and going there and going when you feel all kinds of feelings. Good ones and not so good ones, you can just ‘go home.’ It’s a nice idea….
‘Vì Một Câu Nói’
A pretty voice, I heard this and got intrigued. Especially because I could understand the line that repeated over and over again, and stuff like that. I thought about going to see this person who is going to be in HCM in concert very soon but the idea of sitting in a room with a ton of people with their smartphones out taking video doesn’t sit right with a music-lover like me. I’d much rather go to a small venue where the people who are there really want to just listen, and not get caught up in recording everything and themselves so they can tell everyone how ‘cultural’ they are. I found a new local venue that I think fits my criteria for that, and got to now a couple of kids who love jazz as much as I do, over there, a few nights ago. Well, well. If it wasn’t a pleasure getting to hear Sonny Rollins coming off strong on the very first number! Wow. Made my whole year. HT T, K, lookin’ at you.
‘Kẻ Mộng Mơ’
I got to hear this one and really admired the song, the voice, the earnestness. I think there is a lot of emotion in the male vocalists I get to hear on these occasional bouts with getting to see, um. Karaoke. Even if I can’t understand everything I really love the feeling of just being swept away in someone’s heartfelt telling-it-all-and-laying-it-out-there. Up in Dalat, when I hung out on one of my last days with DSP, he told me that writing Vietnamese lyrics is really hard because of all the things that you have to pay attention to with the ups and downs of tones and stuff. I guess that’s something that people who grow up listening to English lyrics really never had to consider as a technicality to building something song-wise. You know, writing this down here makes me feel like I’m some kind of musician, or something. I’m not. I just like what Iike. Is all.
‘Hà Nội Mười Hai Mùa Hoa’
I have to put this one in, because it’s something that VT told me about. We were talking about ‘culture’ and all this kind of craic as we used to call it when I lived in Ireland (and became very much a fan of Irish musicians, songs in Irish, people from Cork and the songs they gave us, and many more stories related to stories, pints, stories, and did I say stories?) Music and stories and time together. What else is there?…. Yeah..
Anyway! Aside from this one about the seasons of Hanoi which takes you into a different kind of space, in the way it feels when you leave HCM and go to HN, perhaps, because of the abrupt formality you kind of walk into, well, yeah, aside from that, the songs above came from those, ‘What is this!!!’ kinds of questions that I put to people like bartenders, baristas, and fellow guests of whatever place I happened to land in.
Winging it, and making S P A C E..
I’m still in the city of Ho Chi Minh, still exploring and making forays hither and tither to discover, and share, what I find curious and interesting and the people whom I meet, too, to invite them to co-create with me. Always a fun task. Most people don’t want to make a commitment and that’s okay, but it’s my work to show up for the people who want me to make space for new thinking to invite itself into… well, S P A C E. Discovery and design our our themes. Let me expand a little.
ATELIER S P A C E // HCMC. Part of DK’s work is to discover and insist on making and pressing out S P A C E. I know. That’s a lot of vagueness. Still if you are familiar with DK, you know what I mean. We make S P A C E for the new and different to engage and interact with themselves, in a flat hierarchy not a Western-lens thing that tells you what to think about everything. I am working with my good friend AD in the cloud, in Papers, on a zine about ‘Decolonization’ right now so it’s on my mind, this idea. Anyway! So here I am, writing to you, the Internet, an those who read this blog, about what I found out. In case you want to know what contemporary Vietnamese choosers-of-music like to hear that isn’t that old school stuff that is like only just the old love song stuff. Besides that, what is there. That stuff makes me so sad. So I enjoy these things. One is a rap. Really fun. HT VT, QN. Fun ha.
If you are in HCM, check out these opportunities.
This one includes some of my favorite songs from those days when I used to have cassettes (including Bollywood ones, yeah). Also, I put something from the jazz genre because I really, really miss hearing live jazz. Soooooo many songs I wanted to put on this mix tape are not available to listen to where I am… here, in Vietnam.
Not available in Vietnam.
So, yeah. Me being me, I thence named this tape: ‘NAIV.’
i made a mix tape for you, sài gòn.
thank you for this welcome.
tháng 9. 2020
Miki Nakatani (中谷 美紀)
Last One Standing
Sài Gòn Cafe Sữa Đá
The Ocean Blue
Dheeme Dheeme (Zubeidaa)
Kavita Krishnamurthy + A. R. Rahman
I’m still working on this new one, but I am fondly recalling many light conversations back in high school about making mix tapes. Also, the accompanying quiet moments of happily actually building them. Small construction projects, each of these. Who remembers? (Gen X, raise your hand? Yeah, me, too.) I’m thinking about how fun that was. To discover music, to share in those ways, to make a mix for someone. Also putting a mix tape together and writing a letter, and sending it off, in the, like, actual post. And designing the covers for them, collaging them together, placing the A side and B side words together in there, all of it, the package.. those were, um. Pieces. The closest I came to this kind of playful collage-making this year was sending packets of S P A C E mashups to IK and JM. That was fun. That was back when planes were running very infrequently and they told me it would take a month for the envelopes to get from Dalat to London, from Dalat to Seattle. But they did.
Art as compilations..
Art pieces, kind of like the zines we do these days. Funny, that. I sent most of the ones I used to make to RP, and got many in return. That was a fun exchange over the years of verse and line and drawing, collage and poetry and music, too. I like this kind of dialogue. You get to use different media; those were the days when we just had paper and cassettes and mail that used stamps, instead of emails that go into I-don’t-know-anymore. It’s different, now. So many updates. I don’t know what I think about it. The good news is, you can connect over the internet to so many intriguing people. The bad news is, you never know what you’re going to get when you actually see them in person because internet means a lot of facade-making and tons of superficiality and a dearth of substance, ahem. Yes. I am writing that. Because… you just don’t know.
Meantime, revisiting the one from Helsinki: Exit Vantaa… and there were others… The one for Seattle is here…’Dear Seattle’… and there were more, though, I think, in draft… jazzy stuff. That’s what I’m looking for at the moment. I think I need to start a popup jazz cafe-bar. More of a bar. I’m in that kind of a mood, lately.
But yeah. Let’s see if I can find people and make a thing *happen*. Let me see. I’m thinking today of all the great jazz clubs around the world that I’ve been lucky enough to get to have gone to; usually with pen and graph paper in hand. HG had said, ‘You are too much in your notebooks,’ after four or five conversations in which we got to know each other’s works a little bit and he felt comfortable enough saying so. Well! I did take that personally, huh, given the fact that I love my notebooks. But, I think… I think!, I finally understand!, that he was right. I am. I need to go and look and see what’s there. But I am on the right chapter, now. And the right page. To feel. The feelings. Together, in S P A C E-like moments where things just… fall into shape. Let’s see where we go now, next. Maybe downtown. Maybe to the ocean. Maybe nowhere at all. It’s open. Always. That’s the nature of S P A C E.
Hm. Digital archives and so many files. I want to make a compilation of some sort about the journey S P A C E that, from 2017-2020 (and I think this will be my last year since I want to move on to a different project, soon), well, yeah, I want to do all those things and kind of see where it is now, where it’s been, and what it has discovered for itself. Looking. But less adamantly, now. It’s okay if I don’t find the old things, as long as I know how to feel the new ones, on the horizon. Just ahead.
Making a mix tape today for my new friends into jazz, here in Saigon.
While I was at it, I couldn’t help remembering one of my favorite videos. This one.
Dear Seattle… Reading the news, thinking of you. With a long look from afar (very, very far). It’s been 2004… so, what’s that, 16 years?, since I started this studio in Seattle, out of an apartment in Capitol Hill on a laptop with my best friend, Akira Morita.
I decided to make you guys a mix tape. I’m not sure if the article that made me think up the idea’s worth clicking over to, but a particular paragraph was pretty much me going… “Yup…”’ Here’s the part that’s good: ‘… but Gen Xer’s — the latchkey kids of the ’80s and ’90s — are uniquely qualified for social distancing. In their youth, they spent hours alone in their rooms, watching after-school specials, doing homework, making mixtapes for their friends. To this day, they’re perfectly content holed up at home and finding ways to entertain themselves.’
For those of you who still read this blog, thanks.
I made you this mix tape, ‘Dear Seattle’…
Here it is..
A mix tape.. <3 dipika
safe hands by world health organization’s dr. tedros adhanom ghebreyesus (@DrTedros)
don’t stand so close to me (the police)
look sharp ! (roxette)
posse on broadway (sir mix-a-lot)
yoshimi battles the pink robots (flaming lips)
ghen cô vy with English subtitles (nioeh x khắc hưng x min x erik)
play with me (taylor eigsti)
sleeping in (the postal service)
staring at the sun (simple kid)
safe hands (world health organization)
There are simple things we each must do to protect ourselves from #COVID19, including 👐 washing with🧼 & 💦 or alcohol-based rub… [Note: this is a great video to show you how to do it super correctly!]
— World Health Organization Western Pacific (@WHOWPRO) March 18, 2020
don’t stand so close to me
posse on broadway
yoshimi battles the pink robots
ghen cô vy
play with me
staring at the sun**
**Erm, and about that hat… Yup. I know Shelby NC. HT RJ and AP…
IN THE 1990s, I used to make tons of mix tapes. I wish I could make one right now, but I don’t know how to do that easily so what I’m going to do is cue up a playlist for you. It’s inspired by the things I got to know a little bit about over the summer, a few inspiring soundbites that left me thinking and wondering and curious and open to learning more, in each of the different musical directions. (You’ll see, in a bit, what I mean, I hope, when you see the list.)
That’s how it is in S P A C E. Keeping an ear to the ground, walking towards the new. Seeking the opportunities, when the mood is right of course, not always. I’m not always looking for an ‘experience.’ But when I find one, hey. Let’s note it. Let’s make a blog post. This one kicked off my last night in Helsinki, when I went to a concert and heard the song ‘Kaksi Planeeta,’ which means, ‘Two planets,’ by Maagine. Of course I had to ask them, personally, some questions about it, and find out more, and discover things about the planets and so on because, after all, we are writing every day here in S P A C E about spacious things.
This happened at a back-alley venue in Helsinki called Semifinal, which took me a bit of time to find, but I’m glad I did. (Special thanks to VK for inviting me to listen to the show, and for the good conversations, both in Helsinki and Kärsämäki. Conversation… my favorite-ever kind of jam.)
The mix tape is called ‘Exit Vantaa.’ Find it on Spotify here. Or check out the YouTube links, below.
I hope you like it.
E X I T V A N T A A
S P A C E || H E L S I N K I
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
The Book of Love
Killing me Softly
‘Don’t just document, Make Art’
DK x Benjamin Nwaneampeh
If Your Mother was a Hamster
Fly me to the Moon
Nyt On Lähtö
JUST FOUND this by happening to be in the right bus, at the right hour, in the right place, to happen to hear it. This is the very stuff of S P A C E. Chance encounters, serendipity: veer. You go where you don’t know what might happen, and you happen to run into something magical. I call this the ‘magic moment,’ when it happens. I was on the bus. There was a young woman in the row in front of me. The bus was pulling in, but this song. This song! What was it? It was in Finnish, but having been here for three months now, I could pick out the words that stunned me. The refrain (catchy, poppy) sounded exactly like the title of our new zine. How does that happen? It just… does. You go to a place and you look for the art, the things that people are trying to express, or that you feel they are sharing with you, and you make a piece. In the case of DK, a zine. That spells out our explorations into what people shared with us about ‘summer,’ and ‘love,’ and the ‘love story.’ In the case of Mariska, it was a song. ‘It’s like a love story.’
Ours is called Kesärakkausjuttu—A Summer Love Story.
There it is.
The chance encounter with… someone else feeling and expressing similar things to us. So even though it was a song over the radio, that didn’t mean it wasn’t important or connecting. It mattered. Mattering. There’s more to say about that, but not here, not yet. Saving it for the book, Kesärakkausjuttu. Editing this week. Almost done. Friday is my deadline. Whew. Almost there. But meantime, pausing to appreciate that another artist in the same country, in the same summer, also hit on this exact idea—our media of expression are different, but conceptually and aesthetically, our pieces are exactly aligned. Isn’t that what we call ‘good chemistry?’ It’s amazing when it happens—rare, beautiful, impossible to believe, at times, and almost always, the kind of sharp and pungent hit of dopamine that might be exactly what you need, in a particular place, time, and space. When you get the sharp high, everything moves from ‘this,’ to ‘adventure.’ And it’s adventure where DK loves to explore at the edge; that’s the ever-emerging shape of S P A C E.
ROAD TO ROVANIEMI. I heard it on the bus, yeah. I was in Rovaniemi, or just-about-to-be. It was kinda cold out, me and JŽ‘d gotten rained on, and I was like, ‘Let’s just get back and get warm and eat something.’ But then, um. The song. It struck a chord with me in a way that hasn’t in a very long time. Um. This! Wow. This? This. Yes. It was going to mean staying on the bus a bit longer. All the way to the train station. But I had to. To find out. Who was it by? How was I going to find out? Well. There is a young woman in the row in front. Let me just… ask her. Then there were phones, typing, googling, youtube, and the name of the artist… Mariska. ‘The title is Itserakkausjuttu,’ she said, almost as delighted as me for having helped me find out something that seemed important to me. I showed her this page of our website, and we were talking. Talking, talking, talking… all the way to the train station. Lengthenting the trip for J, but um. The song. I now had it. Which was exactly the nut I needed, in order to secure an important kind of bolt. Let me elaborate, to try to clarify what I mean. Hm, how shall I put it. Okay, here it goes…
All summer I’d been wondering what to write to take away from Finland, what to post, what to blog, what to publish, what to eZine, what to put into the whole set of printed pieces that will be sent by post this weekend. And then, with the song, something important happened. The pieces were there, the collection was ready, the channel of the bolt was carved, the bolt had been placed. Everything was loosely there, but the last bit was missing. The nut. The nut that tightened it all; the song was that nut. The aesthetics of this book and this song were importantly aligned. (That was my gut feeling; and as you know, if you read this blog, you know it’s from the gut that I move.)
A collection begins
THE BOOK, the summer, the story, the collection S P A C E || Finland. With this new little piece of a happened-upon sound clip, the aesthetics of Kesärakkausjuttu and accompanying pieces were now set.
A Summer Love Story is the name of our piece.
Hers is called Itserakkausjuttu, which translates by my bus companion in front who helped me find it as ‘A kind of love story.’
The nature. The calming.
These things: all of these things were swimming about in the brain, and then we wrote some stories with Alexis Jokela, and then we printed a few of those and shared them in Oulu and here in Kärsämäki at a short series of conversation parties called Hei Kesä. Testing things. Why not talk about summer and happy things, we were challenged, instead of melancholic depressing ones?
TALKING TOGETHER, working out the story, sharing in small snippets, testing, translating some of these, sharing those, limited editions, hidden chapters, Rated R things, stuff like that. All of it is part of the summer of Atelier S P A C E, writing, deigning, exploring, conversing, connecting, and discovery. It’s always that, but this was the first time we had expanded it to three full months, and not interwoven Atelier S P A C E with any other DK project. So that meant, focus. And concentration. And hopefully, a work of…. Art.
CUTUP. Those who know DK know that a big part of the zines made here are from the cutting-up of magazines, especially womens’ magazines. Why? I hate that these magazines try to tell us a story about what women ought to be into or how we ought to look. So when I google translated the song that I’m talking about and found a few lines about exactly that, I knew for sure I had hit on the right piece to listen to while editing the whole collection these next few days before leaving Finland. These are the lines, and the full Finnish lyrics are below. Thanks, Mariska!
Let’s see the women’s magazines again
How bad and bad I am
Although not true at all
I wondered, “what’s wrong …”
I like my life
I enjoy my skin…
Olen vihdoinkin käsittänyt sen
Mä oon fiksu ja kivannäköinen
Kaiken hyvän todellakin ansaitsen
Mitä tielleni sattuu
Helppo muista on kyllä välittää
Mut itteänikin mun täytyy silittää
Lupaan täst edes aina yrittää
Voi heittaajat sanoo mitä tahansa
Ei se mua liikuta, pitäkööt vihansa
Mut se mist aiheutuu vahinkoo on
Jos mä en itelleni frendi oo
Jo kiistatta oon paras minä
Ja muihin mä en vertaa mua enää ikinä, hä!
Tää on luultavasti sullekin tuttuu
Naistenlehdistä lukea taas saan
Miten väärin ja huono olenkaan
Vaikkei totta se ole ollenkaan
Mietin vaan “mitä vittuu…”
Mikä mussa on muka nurinpäin
Vaikka pärjäilen hyvin juuri näin?
Suosittelen sinullekin ystäväin
Viihdyn mun nahois
Mä väsyn jumittamaan
En dissaa vaan kehun ja kiitän
Kyl kelpaan jos tälleen mä riitän
Oon kritisoinut mua jo aivan tarpeeks
Teen sovinnon ja annan itelleni anteeks
Onni alkaa siit mihin ankaruus loppuu
Kaikki tarvii itserakkausjuttuu
ONE OF THE FUNNEST things about being in the middle of Finland all summer is listening to Radio Nova. I’m not kidding. I really like it. I don’t know. I think it’s because of all these 1990s songs, hit songs, stuff I haven’t heard since… well… then. I don’t listen to the radio much except when I’m in places that are otherwise rather remote or quiet or just the sound of the new language is interesting to hear. Pieced between the many announcements, often about ‘summer,’ because I am beginning to pick up a few words (‘Friday,’ ‘good,’ ‘let’s see then, maybe,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘mind peace’), there is stuff like A-Ha. I’m listening to’ Take On Me’ Great video–do you remember that? I remember that. I remember being very, very intrigued. Drawing and animation and this song. This song. I’m listening to it right now. I was going to link to the YouTube but you know what, they have these stupid ads now, and they have tracking, and it’s annoying–and—wow that’s a high note—and it’s been… really interesting to hear how people listen to songs like Roxette‘s Listen to Your Heart and Sinéad O’Connor‘s Nothing Compares 2 U. Plus that one that’s been playing all summer and is ‘oh, you don’t need to know the words, it’s like all the Finnish songs, about being sad and lonely and depressed and wanting to commit suicide…’
BLAST FROM THE PAST. Nineties music. Nice to hear it all. Zining while listening to this stuff reminds me of something else.
Mix tapes. Collaging. Curating. Sharing. Now you just queue things up on Soundcloud, in a playlist. Or?
Thinking about all that, all those things. Listening to the ‘Hot 9 at 9’ back home. One of the places that used be home, but isn’t now, I guess, would be more accurate. Talking about Home in one of our online forums. Talking about Arrivals. Talking about Slow Moments. Talking, talking, writing, writing. Listening to the radio and drinking coffee at 11:25PM and wondering where the sun went. It is the first time this summer that I’ve needed to turn on the lights.
Bicycling home last night from karaoke, too. First time I had cycled in the dark.
Next, I’m pretty sure, Radio Nova will play us some Michael Jackson. Annie are you okay…