Bluemato were formed in 2013 in Hanoi by Cao Ngoc Cu (Vocalist/guitarist), Dinh Dinh (drums) and bassist Thanh Nha. Their first few shows was at the seminal venue, Hanoi Rock City, playing alongside other indie bands that not only had a similar sound, but also wrote original music, which was a rarity during this time. Then in 2017, keyboardist My Bo joined the band, bringing a whole new layer to their sound. Between 2018 - 2019 guitarist NjtenQ and bassist Pipo Bass joined the band to create the latest line up.
Since they started, Bluemato has released two double single and an EP. "Tonight / Who Brought the Rain?" was released in June 2019, which they toured in Saigon. On August 3rd, 2019, they played these tracks and more to an eagerly awaiting packed out audience at "The Last Tango" show at Soma Art Lounge, as put on by promoters Locally Trapped Wildlife.
Check out the live recording and learn more about what inspires them and what they think about the Vietnamese indie music scene.
Hidden Saigon (HS): How would you describe your sound?
Bluemato (B): According to Cu, "Our music sounds like a very angry girl."
HS: What are some of your influences?
B: We have very eclectic inspirations. As with many contemporary musicians, we grew up with Western 90s and 00s rock - grunge, garage rock, Britpop and subsequent alternative rock sub genres. Hence, we are inspired by acts like The White Stripes, Nirvana, The Killers, Placebo... However, the major source of inspiration for us, which we don't see around much, are Japanese bands. Someone once noted that whatever music that is popular in the West takes five years to catch on in Japan. But they would bring the craft to a whole other level. We are greatly inspired by bands who have accomplished such a feat, such as Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Jihen, Buck-Tick, Plastic Tree, L'arc en Ciel, Dir en Grey... Give them a listen. It will make a lot of sense why we sound like we do.
HS: What’s your favourite Bluemato song?
B: We frankly cannot choose one. It feels like artists always hate looking back on their own work. It is up to our fans to decide what they like.
HS: Do you find there’s a difference in the Hanoi indie sound and the Saigon indie sound?
B: There is definitely a difference, that's reflective of the energy in two cities. Hanoi indie bands love tracks that are mellow, introspective and nostalgic, whereas Saigon bands are more energetic, more explosive and give fewer fucks.
HS: What is needed to develop the indie music scene in Vietnam?
B: When we started out, we would have said the scene is not there because there were no fans at any of the shows. Vietnamese independent music has taken off so much further since. There are definitely a lot more people looking out for local music. People are composing and playing with real emotions. However, the support structure for the scene also needs to be improved. For example, the need for better equipment, better recording studios, and better exposure to the mainstream. This is where organisers and sponsors should take more notice, or else they might quickly miss the opportunity.
HS: What Vietnamese singers or bands should we keep an eye out for?
B: There are so many new acts out there now that it is hard to focus on anyone. The bands we dig are also our personal choices; the best way to find yours is to go out and support the local scene often!
HS: Who would you like to see play here in Vietnam?
B: Gosh there are too many to name. Any of our inspirations above, but any band is good, really!