Saturday, 19 December 2020

The past weeks went by standing still.
Looking back, the only impression I have is of a stagnant black void.

Some of the time was occupied with Jay's quarantine hotel documentary. I would look forward to going to his office and work with him on the editing, or to having a day of additional shooting here and there. He kept me busy with a commercial for the Tourism bureau in Japan, my flat was used for the shooting of some of the scenes, I provided some of the clothes, wrote the music. All this went by, as if taking place in another life. The passing days were illuminated by the films I would watch in the evening - amusing image when one thinks of it. I explored more of Kurosawa x 2, Suzuki, Tarkovsky, Welles, Truffaut... It's exciting to think of all there is to discover. 
I ended things with Mike - whatever was left to be ended. Our relationship was just empty spaces between us, albeit affectionate empty spaces. I wrote a long letter to him, after weeks of overthinking - a letter (well, email) as his command of spoken English wasn't sufficient for him to grasp all I wanted to say. But then, when it's about ending things, mayeb the short way is the best... His response was short and succint, as usual. He agreed it was time to part. Good luck and au revoir. Voilà.

I do miss the presence of friends. Communicate, share, talk, exchange, listen to, someone who listens, who understands...

Cinema really did save my sanity.

Saturday, 28 November 2020


November is Noirvember! 

My CinéSalon home festival goes on. A few noir and neo-noir classics for the month. That genre has always been a favourite of mine. I could watch Orson Welles' Touch of Evil again and again!

Delon in Le Samourai is iconic, as is Lee Byung-hun in A Bittersweet Life.

In Drive, Out of Past and Angel Heart, Ryan Gosling, Robert Mitchum, Mickey Rourke respectively, are perfect as the existential, enigmatic heroes who seem to have no history, who do not look like the effusive type, but who are haunted by their past. 

And what about those lethal women, namely Lana Turner in The Postman always rings twice, Jane Greer in Out of the Past, doe-eyed but coldly calculating Angie Dickinson in The Killer? Marilyn Monroe who opens her wounds and her disturbed psyche in Don't bother to knock or Peggy Cummins who is as viciously demented as she is alluring in Gun Crazy?

And Steve McQueen is the epitome of cool in Bullit! To think I had never seen that film until now... Lalo Shriffin's score is a delight.  

November is Noirvember!

Sunday, 1 November 2020

To see and not to see

Second and last screening of Ròm yesterday at the Golden Horse Festival. I still kept the hope alive that, by some divine intervention, it would be the original version of the film that would be screened this time, although I knew I was deluding myself.
Big void. Friends came to see the film, many of them were genuinely impressed. Of course they had no clue what the film went through, that what they saw was the authorised [truncated, watered-down - censored] version of a film.  
It was a shock to me, as Huy had told me that all copies sent to festivals were of the original version. So I discovered it this week and my heart just stopped beating for a while, then began to race furiously until the end of the film. 
I had never seen that amputated version of Ròm. I knew Huy had made some changes, that 'only' 20% of the film had been cut off and reworked to fit the Censorship Committee's requirements. Maybe we should consider ourselves fortunate, as originally, they wanted 70% of the film's content to be changed. "No mention of gambling or poverty in Vietnam. Why promote such a negative image of the country? Give it a happy ending" Huy was told. "Then we will definitely support your NEXT film.
Trần Anh Hùng saw his film banned in Vietnam when he did Cyclo. But at least, the film was released as it was internationally. Ash's The Third Wife also attracted lots of scandals and controversy - supposed defensors of morality and children's rights who actually who turned out to be ennemies of her family in an act of sheer envy and vengeance and cried out words of pretense shock at seeing an under-age actress having to endure the shooting of sex scenes... before they had actually seen anything. Fortunately, the film enjoyed a surprisingly long life at festivals around the world and even be released theatrically in any countries. And Ash is a no-nonsense, strong-willed girl. There isn't such a consolation for Ròm. The film may have won an award last year in Busan, and even if I understand how Huy is gingerly walking on a tight rope between the Vietnamese government, his ambitions and his artistic aspirations, I find it unfair to still wave the Busan-winner flag, without making it clear to distributors that the version of the film is vastly different.
Perhaps is it easy for me to talk about integrity, as I am just the composer. I have less to lose than Huy or his producers. But I'm also wondering what path you allow yourself to walk if you accept to yield. What will become of the next film? Indeed, Huy is now enjoying a huge popularity. Wowy has become insanely famous this year. What's next for them? What path will they choose to take from now?
Best for me is to let this bitter pill go down and see what's in store.  

Monday, 19 October 2020

The dream last night involved - again, as so often these days, my parents. I was in Paris and my mother was to fly back. Back to where I can't recall, since Paris is supposed to be where they live. My mother didn't realise it would be a long journey. The flight was in the evening. I spent time with them, yet managed to hop to the city for some appointments, whilst being there with them at the same time... That's only possible in dreams, I guess...
"I will be a long journey". I don't remember who said that. But I also felt that it might be the ultimate journey...

Perhaps I saw all of this in my dream because I watched Tarkovsky's Solaris yesterday, and also because I had a phone conversation with my father after the passing of his elder sister a few days ago.

It's not life meets imagination. They're both contained in one.   

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Music makes the people come together - in my dream

Dream in music last night. 

It started with a scene in Dennis' living room. His Pinoy friends were there and he wanted me to play the new arrangement I did of a Filippino song with his singing. I opened my computer and played the music, when I realised the singing was no longer his, but some very weird-sounding voice...

I returned to my room, and found myself in another building, from which I could see the interior of neighbouring flats. In one of them, my friend Thibault was proudly telling me that he had started taking cello lessons. He wanted to demonstrate, seized an instrument that only vaguely resembled a cello, and began to play a piece with just one hand! I beamed myself in his room, which was actually an office. The room suddenly turned into a big conference hall and there was a group of people dressed in white. They played a baroque piece, among them some musician friends like Benoît who plays the double bass. Suddenly I saw my mother among them and my father who played on two wooden recorders that looked more like toys. I knew he wasn't really playing, because I knew he couldn't play the flute! But he kept on joyfully with a twinkle in hie eyes. 

That was it. I woke up, but felt happy to have seen beloved people in this dream, making music together - in my dream.

The first time - and only time I met aunt Phi Lê was thirty years ago, when I went to Vietnam for the very first time. It was my birthday gift from my father and my uncle for my 20 years. 

Aunt Phi Lê lived in Saigon. She was one of my father's elder sister. I immediately felt comfortable with her. She was gentle, sensitive and very easy to talk, for the young Parisian born Vietnamese boy that I was. 

I would often find her in the kitchen and she was surprised to see that I was a natural in a kitchen - her sons weren't really the domestic type, to put it mildly. 

Her husband would sit all day long on a wicker chair near the house entrance, talk to everyone, comment on everything, and barely move from his spot, whilst drinking beer and smoking cigarette after cigarette.

I really admired her for her resilience. She came with me and my uncle when we all went to Huế to celebrate my grandmother's ninetieth birthday. It coincided with my being in Vietnam, so it was even more meaningful. I met hundreds of cousins, aunts and uncles, twice, thrice removed, friends of my father's, friend's of my uncles', friends of friends of the family...

But it was with aunt Phi Lê that I felt the most comfortable. I shall always remember her amused expression as I would share about my life in France, about how I lived it, what I thought... Even if it didn't make much sense to her, she would always be open and understanding. Perhaps it was a special treatment for the nephew from the foreign land. I don't know...

Then she more or less reluctantly went to the US, as the family had an opportunity for a 'better life' there, although I thought she would have been better off staying in Vietnam, with all her friends, relatives, all her life... 

I never saw her since. Only heard from her and got short greetings from her through my cousins. Then, Alzheimer struck a few years ago. Needless to describe how life was for her and her family, especially the two daughters who had to tirelessly take care of her. So much for the 'better life' in America...

The very last time I saw her was through a Facetime conversation between her and my father, when my parents came to Vietnam last year. It wasn't much of a conversation, but I thought saw a (not a pussycat).. a glimmer of joy in her eyes when my father talked to her. I took a picture of the moment, but I don't think I want to post it here.

My cousin just told me that aunt Phi Lê has left us. I can only feel relief for her, for everyone. I can't help thinking about my own mother. It's sad. But it's also a deliverance. 

She is now at peace and freed from earthly troubles. 

Sad and relieved.  

Monday, 12 October 2020

Displacement - Quarantine Hotel

DISPLACEMENT _ Quarantine Hotel: The full score for Jay's documentary is done!  The last piece, which will play for the final section of the film, was composed and recorded just earlier on this morning before I left for Jay's office. I had the illunination after watching Jóhann Jóhannsson's documentary The End of Summer yesterday night. It realised I didn't need to look any further as everything was already there in front of my eyes: those long and slow sonic landscapes of strings and synths that I would regularly record for so many projects could just be used alone to express this state of uncertainty we go through during this years' pandemic. I played it to Jay who immeditately loved it.   

We're still working on the editing, and the process is a very enjoyable one for me. There isn't much going on in terms of narrative. Jay's camera just follows Teresa Ma, the owner (and the film commissioner) and her staff going through long days of work after she decides to turn her hotel into quarantine hotel. As exciting as boiled cabbage... But somehow, combination of the slow, ambient score (some, featuring Goh Nakamura's atmospheric guitar from the Be Water sessions - rien ne se perd, tout se retrouve!) with the images gives an otherworldly impression. Jay welcomed my idea of setting up a near-science-fiction atmosphere with the music, as the current situation, if we think of it, is indeed very much one from a science fiction film. 

The film is taking shape now! I really enjoy doing the editing. CC, the hired editor - the third one, for this project, said that she on the contrary found editing a tedious process and was surprised to witness such enthusiasm from me. She also got the chance to see a more playful Jay at work...

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Rain in 2020

Lee Yong Chao's film will be the third documentary I work on this year - if one excludes the ill-fated Be Water, Yong Chao is a director whose work I have followed for many years. I got the chance to see three of them at the theatre, albeit at festivals, as such films seldom get any theatrical release.  Even with minimal means - sometime with just an iPhone, he never fails to capture beautiful, striking and meaingful images. It's in his eyes, in his blood. His photographic work is also stunning. Not only are the photos charged with depth and many stories, they also carry a melancholy tone I relate to.
Rain in 2020 focuses on his family in Myanmar during the rainy season this year, 2020 being what it is. Yong Chao follows his younger brother and his two lively sons. Through them, he reflects on the state of the country, the incompetence and false hopes of the government, and the life of hardship of Burmese people.

I won't have much time to compose the music - just one month, as Yong Chao wishes to send the film for submission to the Berlin Festival. "But even if you think it will be impossible to complete the score in time, I still want you to do the music for it", he added. He had just finalised two long-feature documentaries, the other being given to Thomas, who is his usual collaborator. Thomas was very happy I could finally work with Yong Chao. I was relieved their working partnership wasn't an exclusive one. 

I have already began writing and recording some musical sketches. One movement is even already finished. But as ideas for Yong Chao's film keep coming to me, I also have to complete the music for Jay's documentary, as the commissioner expects a first cut by mid-October...

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Chạy, chay, cháy, chảy, chày, chãy

Or how one single sign or accent can change everything...

A friend of mine from Malaysia was listening to the soundtrack of Ròm and got curious about Wowy's song. He googled the meaning of the title.

"Is it about being vegeterian?"

I burst out laughing.

It's "Chạy" not "Chay"! 

Monday, 28 September 2020


My dreams are getting very interesting... or weirder and weirder.

Two days ago, there was Woody Allen who was playing clarinet with a new band at the gym where I was training - well, we know how the two are connected. For some reason, he left and made sure to turn off all the lights, leaving everybody in pitch-black darkness. We cursed Woody as we were preparing for our next raid against a gang of yakuza, and couldn't even find our way out... 

The night before that, I was composing a piece that Herbert von Karajan was supposed to conduct, with soprano Anneliese Rothenberger singing the main part. I had even written the text (in German) and as she was sight-reading it, she couldn't help laughing and correcting my grammar mistakes, under the unconcerned eyes of maestro Karajan. Then I thought to myself: "How could I POSSIBLY be working with Anneliese Rothenberger when she has has already... PASSED AWAY? It must be another one of those dreams", I said to myself. "But... it's happening so maybe I'm not dreaming after all... but... she IS dead isn't she? And is Karajan!!!!"

Yesterday, I was controlling all the lights of a massive fifty-storey building... from a corn cob! "It's so cool!!!" I exclaimed. "Just like Christmas decoration!". And I kept on pressing on the corn knobs of the corn cob...

And a week ago, I was chatting with my friend Isabelle, when suddenly I found myself naked on my bed, trying to put on my underwear and conceal an embarrassingly huge hard-on, while Isabelle kept talking gayly, totally unaware of my little struggle...

Friday, 18 September 2020

At the Eslite bookstore... From one end of the music section, Aretha Franklin getting vocally orgasmic parising the Lord in Amazing Grace, and from the other end, well... Nana Mouskouri (painfully) attempting that infamous Carmen aria...
Life is full of contrasts.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of the very last foundries in Taipei to design my first business card. I never had any, and would usually scribble my contact on a torn piece of paper! Not very business-like I guess... It was Thierry's idea to go to that shop, as he had previously had his name cards printed there several tims. "A tad more expensive, but the result is really worth it" he said. It was amazing to find myself in this environment... Indeed, I could as well have it done on the computer and it would be much cheaper. But the quality and craftsmanship can't be matched. And this taste of the 'real thing'. 

To think they used to print newspapers that way every day in the old time!

Today, I received through Thierry the quote for those business cards, and I think that I am going to reply with a resounding NO! 6,000 NTD. That's perhaps too much of a rip-off for a struggling composer such as I, especially when we know that at best those cards take the dust on a desk, or that people throw the them in the bin once they get home... There's always the other possibility to design them on a computer and have them printed for a very cheap sum, especially in Taiwan. 
Another one of those hipster things.
Then tea master Sarah Wu asked me why I didn't ask her father to do it. I had completely forgotten that her father was running a foundry as well. "1500 for 200 pieces" she said. Indeed... That's cheaper. Thierry wanted to write to the foundry to find out what made the price rocket up like that. "Perhaps for the simple reason that I'm a foreigner" I replied. 
Anyway, now may not be the best time for those things, since I have no money left, but I will certainly think of it again when times get more prosperous.

So much for the hipster rip-off!


Saturday, 15 August 2020

William encore et toujours

The birthday of William today. Someone very special to me. It's a tale of wonder how certain people appear in one's life. The tale follows its own trajectory, reveals so much about us, about what can be, could have been, what sometime will never be except in one's imagination or fantasy, but I thank the universe that it is never dull.

This photo was taken during the shooting of They Lie. I asked William to be in the music video, as I like to include in my work people who are dear to me, important in that moment life, sometime for a longer time. I like the idea of them being part of my creative path, where they can exist without physical or emotional limit.

Bon anniversaire, mon bel amour, ma déchirure.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020


Jan and I have been friends for 33 years now. And we started of as penfriends - And letters we certainly did write! I fondly remember how my enthusiasm at having such a receptive friend would compell me to up to five or 6six letters a week, sometime even twice a day! 

So it is as a nice little nod to those youthful years that he sent me a postcard (for my fiftieth birthday). Thank you Jan!


Ever since my childhood, the name of Beirut has more often been linked to images of war, terrorist attacks, bombing and devastation. And it's even more devastating to see that it goes on now, more than thirty years later. The once beautiful city has been hit once again and this time, the blast of the two explosions could be felt up to 80 km away from the city. 

What can one do... The state of people's life was already overwhelmingly distressing, between the pandemic, the civil outbreaks and the corrupted government.  

I don't have friends there, but I strongly feel for everyone.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Nói chuyện với ba

A long call to my parents yesterday. My mother makes less and less sense. She was happy to talk, albeit in her own fragmented world. During the course of the day, she goes back at various moments of her life. When evening comes, she is a 12 year old girl again. However, she still can reply as 'mother' although I wonder what it means in her head... But she sounded gay and spirited.
The surprise came with my father who, for the first time, seemed to enjoy a conversation on the phone - he tends to make it the shortest possible. After the usual exchange about health, mother's condition, the rain in Spain, incompetent governments etc..., my father began sharing about his life as a composer, how in time of hardship he had to accept jobs that were deemed unworthy for a composer by his peers. "But I never felt being a copist was below me", he went on. Fellow composers who talked about him as "their copist", since he worked for their (and his) publisher and had to do the copying chore for them. 
"I've been offered teaching positions in composition, but I declined" he said. "How can one teach composition nowadays? I'd understand if we lived in the 19th century, but now the conservatories offer all one needs to know: music theory, music analysis, harmony, orchestration..." Pause.
"My teachers, Jolivet or Rivier didn't teach me composition. They only made suggestions, they showed me possible paths to go." He paused again. "Composing comes from within..." 
"And it's connected to one's life and experience" I added tentatively.
"Exactly!" exclaimed my father. "I see so many brilliant composers. But if their technique is impeccable, I find it empty inside. And that cannot be taught..."
It was nearly two o'clock in the morning, I was falling asleep on the phone, but felt glad to have this connection. When I'm visiting them, my father really enjoys our conversations during lunchtime, teatime or dinner time. I know opportunities to talk and discuss about matters that interest him are now rare. His friends have been passing away one by one. The remaining ones are too old to go anywhere. Companionship comes from my mother who remembers less and less...
"It's my father, your grandfather, who told those simple thing on his deathbed: what really matters comes from the heart... I tried to live my life and make that the most natural thing" he continued.
"That's what you taught me too." I said. "Connection with others, friends or people we don't know."
"Not something that feels natural" my father added. "Many people do good deeds for how it is perceived by others"
I was very happy to have that moment with my father. He seemed equally happy to have spent that time talking with me. 

Monday, 3 August 2020


We were living under martial law somewhere in Asia. Every word, every move had to be validated by a committee.

I was to serve the military again, and waiting for my fate in a large hall with other people, among them Serge Gainsbourg. I had to present my songs. I showed them a dead chicken - a song is a dead chicken in that world... But the dead chicken I displayed didn't pass the commission, so I returned to my table - we were all sitting at vintage schooltables.

Serge Gainsbourg's chicken wasn't more successful either. His was deemed too disco a dead chicken.

Then one of my comrades said to me: "We should have sex in front of the committee and when I'm about to get into you, you turn on the big white light!"
Where that idea came from, I don't know, but I looked at Margaret Thatcher who was sitting on the stage, deep in a conversation with her peers and shook my head. "Will not do..."

As I would wake up and fall asleep again, more elements added to the dream, and made it harder to remember. I just know that eventually, we were doing Chinese calligraphy, and that too turned into dead chickens.  

Oh yes, I watched Barking dogs never bite yesterday, that might explain...

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Yesterday was supposed to be the premiere of Ròm in Saigon. Tomorrow was supposed to be the day of its release nationwide as well as the release of the soundtrack CD. Due to that damn Covid-19, everything had to be postponed to some indetermined time. Two weeks at least of lockdown, if not one month... 
It is unfortunate for all the team, and all the people who prepared to celebrate the result and the new birth of nearly a decade of hard work.
And I think of all the young film directors whose first feature films were to be presented at festivals this year, and now have to live in this state of limbo...

Friday, 24 July 2020

with the musicians

The CD release is set to coincide with the day of the film premiere. Late nights working feverishly to finalise everything in time... Due to some misunderstanding, I thought that Wowy didn't agree to let the song Chạy be featured in the soundtrack. That's what can happen with the online chatting, answers and replies cross each other. Huy and I were discussing the shooting of another video that this time would feature a new version of the end credit music, with Wowy saying the text of Chạy in a totally manner - I asked him to leave out the rap style and be the most intimate possible. The result was astonishing. What a beautiful text! At some point, I said it was a pity the song Chạy wasn't to be on the soundtrack, to Huy's great surprise. "But... I thought Wowy AGREED to that" he exclaimed. A few words with Wowy clarified the situation. Yes, Wowy had agreed, but since I was asking him about getting writing credits for Chạy, after which he said "Yes sure", I thought he was replying to that. Anyhow, I spent half of the night checking the mix and doing the mastering, adding all the names and credits to the booklet, and send the song in time in the hope that the printing company had not already started the printing and pressing process. 
The next morning, Quang, the executive producer of the soundtrack told me to everyone's relief, that the company had not yet done anything. 
Ah, the wonder of the internet... to be able to collaborate with musicians around the world, even if I still prefer to be in the same room with them, just because the vibe and the connection are different.

Keith Lee lives in Hong Kong. I found it interesting to have his guzheng playing for a scene where the two boys fight on the railway (they fight a lot in the film!) and turn it into an almost balletic fight with the music. Keith told me that he had to do many takes because his little dog would bark during the recording - aaahhh pet animals and musicians...
I shall always remember the sessions with Vanessa for the prepared piano. I let her place all the little objects, from little screws of various sizes to various metallic objects, even a mini Christmas tree, erasers or pencils... After some time recording what she played, she and I both in a trance, as if drunk or on a high... The magic (witchcraft) of sound!

The erhu barely plays any melody in the film. Allen, was actually tuning his instrument and trying some screeching harmonic sounds in the higher register when I stopped him and asked him to do it again. He looked at me. "What?... That???" I gave him some instruction about what to play and he just did it without asking any other question. True, if someone had listened to what we were doing, he would have left the room within seconds!

The same kind of experience happened with Heng Han Hou. No melody for the violin, only some weird sounds going up and down, like a swarm of insects. To me, accidents open to new possibilities!

The other Allen (Wu ) proudly showed his hand drum one day after a concert. He really does magic with his percussion and brings soul to the rythms he plays, and he plays on just anything: a music stand, bowls, with two small pieces of paper...

I have lots of fun working with those musicians, but they also inspire me so much! 

Gilles Deleuze

"Nous vivons dans un monde plutôt désagréable, où non seulement les gens, mais les pouvoirs établis ont intérêt à nous communiquer des affects tristes. La tristesse, les affects tristes sont tous ceux qui diminuent notre puissance d’agir. Les pouvoirs établis ont besoin de nos tristesses pour faire de nous des esclaves. Le tyran, le prêtre, les preneurs d’âmes, ont besoin de nous persuader que la vie est dure et lourde. Les pouvoirs ont moins besoin de nous réprimer que de nous angoisser, ou, comme dit Virilio, d’administrer et d’organiser nos petites terreurs intimes. La longue plainte universelle qu’est la vie … On a beau dire « dansons », on n'est pas bien gai. On a beau dire « quel malheur la mort », il aurait fallu vivre pour avoir quelque chose à perdre. Les malades, de l’âme autant que du corps, ne nous lâcheront pas, vampires, tant qu’ils ne nous auront pas communiqué leur névrose et leur angoisse, leur castration bien-aimée, le ressentiment contre la vie, l’immonde contagion. Tout est affaire de sang. Ce n’est pas facile d’être un homme libre : fuir la peste, organiser les rencontres, augmenter la puissance d’agir, s’affecter de joie, multiplier les affects qui expriment un maximum d’affirmation. Faire du corps une puissance qui ne se réduit pas à l’organisme, faire de la pensée une puissance qui ne se réduit pas à la conscience. "

Gilles Deleuze & Claire Parnet - Dialogues, 1996

I went to see Akira, Otomo Katsuhiro's masterpiece at the cinema, as theatres now re-release restored old classics in those times of pandemic. The experience was fantastic as it was the 4K IMAX version. The rich and experimental score by the Geinoh Yamashirogumi collective sounds glorious - so ahead of their time, and the film has lost none of its strength 32 years afterwards. It's even ironic that it is set in 2019, a year before the Tokyo Olympics (and even more ironic that the Olympics have been postponed - cancelled?, due to the pandemic), and the society it depicts couldn't be closer to the dog-eat-dog world we live in now, with our imcompetent and corrupt politicians, the gap between the well-off ones and the poors, students' riots, the lack of ideal and real human connection in a fast-paced 'modern' world...
I never get tired of the film, and I'm certainly NOT looking forward to the US live action remake!

Wednesday, 22 July 2020


Ròm features a gallery of characters, among them a gangster played by Vietnamese actor/rapper Wowy.  He also wrote a song which is the backbone of the story: Chạy (Run). I had the great pleasure to arrange that song. Huy told me about it and said it was very meaningful for him and to the film. I didn't tell him, but when Huy played me the original version, I thought it sounded like a track by N'Sync...
Initially, the idea of me arranging a hip-hop song was met with some reserve. I remember a first call by Wowy who voiced his concerns that I may not be able to understand the spirit of the genre...
I just let him talk, told him not to worry and let me do the music. We said goodbye on an un certain note.  
The following days, I let out what was coming to my mind: taigu drums, experimental hip-hop, a brit-pop twist for the chorus for which Jan played gleefully the guitars parts...
I wasn't sure how this U.M.O. (unidentifed musical object) would be welcomed, but Huy immediately loved it when I played it to him in Paris. Then I was relieved to see how relieved Wowy also was.
Huy and Wowy just shot the music video for the song last week. I wonder what they came up with...

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Ròm on CD!!!!

Happy news!!! The original soundtrack of Ròm will have its release on CD! Limited release of 300, exclusive to Vietnam, in partnership with LP CLUB, a favourite spot for music lovers in Hà Nội. Quang, the owner came to me a few weeks with the idea to publish the CD. At first, I was reluctant. Nobody buys CD anymore, even less in Vietnam. But Quang insisted that many people were every much interested in the film and were willing to buy the soundtrack. He added that he wanted to support the film and finance its pressing.
After a couple of weeks of hesitation, I decided that we had nothing to lose. There were a couple of things to get done: the booklet, and most importantly, the mastering! There was no fund for a proper mastering. I was advised to try one particular plug-in which I could use on a ten-day trial period. It took me a full day to figure out how to use it, then I just plunged into the water, only trusting my ears. After I sent the mastered files, Quang told me that they sounded fine on his stereo. 
I still couldn't believe it was to happen. Mind you, since my first album Circlesong, none of my work had been properly published, and Circlesong was a self-published affair. Too bad there was no follow up with Milan Music...        
Long nights doing the mastering, long nights working on the booklet, and making sure no name has been left out. 

I can't wait to actually hold the CD in my hands!

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Creature off the dark

Damn.... a flying cockroach in the house....
It flew right onto my face. In the dark. 

Friday, 17 July 2020

Mother, damals

My cousin Bảo Châu sent me an old photo of my mother, her and myself, a photo taken at her place sometime around 1987 or 1988... (I would say 1987...) This comes at a perfect time since today is my mother's birthday. I guess she doesn't remember that evening, but I can only wish her to have a peaceful and blessed new year, here, and out of time. Peaceful and tranquil.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Home quarantine is over.
Taipei, dans la rue... again at last! 

Saturday, 11 July 2020

An An

I'm learning the art of disguise so that I don't recognise myself.

Friday, 10 July 2020


I must say that I quite enjoy those two weeks of quarantine. Work, but no deadline, nowhere to go, nobody to see or care for, nothing (much) to worry about - temporarily maybe, but I haven't had that in a long time. 
Tentative piano playing - it took me a few days before I could bring myself to open the lid and start playing, healthy home made cooking (mostly soup - I have been eating  much too much during my time with Dennis and François!, reading, watching films - oh the joy of cinema with the projector, I think people call that 'holiday'... 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Ở ngoài thì chỉ nhìn được mây bay qua, ở nhà thì đọc sách bay xa.

Outside, I see the clouds, inside I travel far away with the books!


I just came back from five months in Paris and it was very hard to say goodbye, to my friends, to my family, to the city and particularly to my parents. And exactly ten years ago, I was leaving Paris to start anew in Asia, to begin a new chapter in my life with a big question mark as title. I was about to turn forty, an age in life when most people are normally already well settled. I came to Taiwan with no working nor resident permit, I didn't speak Mandarin - still can't, my finances were far from glorious, I had no real job prospect, nor did I know where I would be living. The only thing I had was the faith that I would be fine somehow. 
Now ten years later, well... I am happy to see that I have managed it, more or less. Life is crazier and more surprising than ever, I still have no clue what is going to happen - or shall I say that whatever happens, I'm fine with handling it. But I'm surrounded by fantastic people and that is what really matters!

Merci la vie!

Tôi vừa trở về sau năm tháng ở Paris. Nói lời tạm biệt với bạn bè gia đình, thành phố của mình và đặc biệt với bố mẹ mình là một điều rất khó. 
Mười năm trước, tôi rời Paris đến châu Á để bắt đầu một chương mới trong cuộc đời mình với một dấu hỏi lớn. Khi đó tôi sắp bốn mươi tuổi - là  một độ tuổi mọi người phần đông đã ổn định cuộc sống và sự nghiệp của họ rồi. Tôi bay qua Đài Loan nhưng không có visa hay là giấy phép làm việc, không nói được tiếng Hoa, không có, chưa có việc làm, tài chính của tôi cũng không được vẻ vang. Điều duy nhất tôi có là niềm tin rằng tôi sẽ ổn bằng cách nào đó.
Bây giờ mười năm sau... tôi rất mừng với sự trong đời mình. Cuộc sống còn điên rồ và đáng ngạc nhiên hơn hồi trước, mình vẫn không biết chuyện gì sẽ xảy ra, nhưng tôi được bao quanh bởi những người tuyệt vời và đó là điều quan trọng nhất!

Tuesday, 30 June 2020


Yesterday was the birthday of Huy, the talented young director of Ròm.

When two years ago, Trần Anh Hùng wrote to me to introduce me to this film project and recommend me as a composer, little did I know that I would also befriend a wonderful person, a passionate and open minded young man filled with crazy ideas, someone I truly enjoy spending time with. I remember the first time we met: it was in Paris. I took him to Potemkine, one of my favourite places. Potemkine publishes DVD and blu-rays of restored classics or modern films, some of which they also finance. Their shop offers a great selection of DVD and film soundtrack (how much money did I spend there), as well as serve a great coffee (and cakes!). Huy just loved it. We spent long hours there, and I played him all the music I had just composed for his film. It was a moment I shall always remember. His eyes lighting up as he was listening to each piece, then telling he knew exactly how to use the music. 
That was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. We would often meet whenever I come to Saigon, we shared our moments of joy, distress, doubt or excitement. What about the adventure in Busan when the film was selected for the festival... 
To collaborate on a great project is already wonderful, but to genuinely enjoy the company of the people you're working with is absolutely priceless! I'm so looking forward to his next film, Tick!

Monday, 29 June 2020

Naked dream (again)

This time I was in a police lodge near a wood, the connection to real life being that I was in quarantine. But I kept popping myself up outside unwillingly - maybe not that unwillingly, and had to find a way to sneak inside again without the guards noticing, until I realised I was simply naked. That often happens in my dream. Nakedness being that I am actually naked, or holding something odd or embarrassing that wouldn't want people to see... (usually something connected to my childhood). 
I tried in vain to find some clothes so to go unnoticed. Then... the little Indian boy laughed when he saw me.  According to his mother he had never seen a grown up man in his life. Shall I add, she said that he had never seen such a fine looking grown man such as I.... One odd thing adding up to another...
That's when I decided to have a shower.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Friends and family

The universe has made me the gift of truly wonderful friends, and among them are Dennis and François who not only have opened their house to me for the past (almost five) months, but with whom I discovered the boundless infinity of friendship. Two months of strict lockdown would have been lethal to any relationship, I admit that the first weeks were difficult for me, and challenging for them. It was the first time we would spend so much time in the same place together. I was exhausted from all these years of continuous hard work and also emotional pressure regarding my parents, and was looking forward to some time alone. Free time... However, this lockdown turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. Ar first we did out best considering the situation. I felt guilt and unease to impose myself, though involuntarily. After a couple of weeks of guarded friendliness, the bubble bursted and we began to truly enjoy each other's company. More laugh and relaxed time. I also realised how much they genuinely cared about me, and I guess they also saw that I wasn't too bad a person to be confined with! A joyous and joyful blessing it was. 

Friday, 26 June 2020

Thursday, 25 June 2020


Một buổi chiều với cha mẹ vui vẻ tràn ngập ánh sáng.

Last visit to my parents before I fly back to Taipei. The contrast between the sadness of our separation and the lightness of being that afternoon was overwhelming.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Một triệu tia sáng cho cha tôi.
Ảnh mình chụp vào năm ngoái, tại quê hương của ông ở Huế.

A million beams of light for my father. 
Photo taken last year, in his ancestral home in Huế.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

"Each time my foot hits the sofa, the sound the metallic structure makes is like a bell with a very long resonance. I have to put my hand on it to stop it!" François said to me a few weeks ago. 
"Then I have to record it! One never knows what can come out of it in my music!"
"The sofa as musician!" we exclaimed.

And yes, for the Weinert documentary project, one of my new musicians is... the sofa! Recording it was a pain for the knuckles, but totally worth it.
Once edited and assembled together other the voices and other instruments, it sounded oddly spectacular!
Merci François! 


Thursday, 18 June 2020

Ròm in Vietnam

The new poster for the release of Ròm in Vietnam!! So happy!!!

Cuối cùng Ròm cũng có chiếc poster chính thức mọi người ơi!
Giới thiệu với mọi người, đây là khu chung cư mà Ròm sống. Người dân ở đây nghèo, khổ nhưng họ xem nhau như gia đình, vui sướng hoạn nạn gì cũng có nhau. Với Ròm thì hên xui: có ngày được coi như thần hộ mạng, có ngày thì bị đuổi đánh như đuổi tà... 
Cũng trong lô chung cư cũ nhàu này, những câu chuyện về phận đời xô nghiêng, về ước mơ đổi đời và cả về tình người sẽ được kể...

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Rừng - into the woods

Into the woods with Kevin for this second short film of mine, Rừng. I was on the verge to cancell it all, our shooting session in the forest, as I didn't have any proper camera, and felt a bit restless with what had been happening in recent time. Kevin sounded slightly disappointed on the phone, although the said he understood. But if not now, then when?
And I always enjoy seeing Kevin - perhaps too much he he. He was glad when I said I would come anyway and that we would just go with the flow.
The light was beautiful, with its game of sunshine and clouds. We forgot we were near Paris...
That time in the forest was just perfect. I will find something to do with what I shot. Kevin was very happy.
That boy is so kind and full of passion, although he himself says he isn't exactly sure passion for what...