Larria was born into music. Before the internet put global music at everyone’s finger tips, the Vietnamese producer was exposed to a flow of constant new sounds because his parents sold bootleg CDs. Friends, neighbors, and regular customers would stop by their home just outside of Saigon to check out whatever was new that week, but Larria got first dibs. He was listening to Tupac by the time he was in first grade, but it was the family’s selection of homegrown dance music vinahouse that proved most influential. “I started listening to dance music by sixth grade,” he says. “I was going to town and digging in CD stalls for my crew to dance to.”
That early start gave the 25 year old a head start in a local scene that’s recently started to explode with dance and rap music. Larria was known early on for exploring global club music like Brazilian baile funk and American Jersey club mixed with local vinahouse and V-pop flavors. He’s also a go-to producer for many rappers and singers in the country, his name and face frequently appearing alongside them.
Larria’s dad played the drums and guitar for bolero and pop bands, and his mom taught traditional Vietnamese dance at a school, but it was the wealth of CDs that really captured his imagination. (And the fascination remains strong: during our interview, he was immediately drawn to a stack of old CDs at the vintage store we visited.) “My dad tried to teach me the drums but I just wasn’t interested,” he laughs. He got his start DJing in eighth grade because his all-styles hip hop dance crew needed a DJ and he was the obvious choice. A couple years later he got a copy of Fruity Loops and immediately started producing vinahouse, imitating his favorite artists for practice. He made some rap beats for his homies too. “My family really encouraged me to follow my passion for music. “They’re not only my biggest supporters but also my true inspiration.”
After high school, Larria kept producing dance music, newly inspired by sounds from around the world he found online. “I didn’t know anyone else who listened to this stuff, but I loved it.” He was quietly posting his tracks to SoundCloud, slowly and steadily attracting local listeners. By 2016 he had a solid fan base online, but it would take a little while before dancefloors really caught on.
These days, Larria splits his production between dance music and collaborations with vocalists pretty evenly and plays both at parties. “I definitely drop Vietnamese rap into my sets,” he says. “Sometimes I even remix them to add some extra spice and a word of encouragement.” He says local rap started getting popular about five years ago and that people enjoy dancing to it. You can find most of his vocal collabs at Under The Hood, which he joined in 2020.
Local underground music in general is now reaching a level they’ve never seen before. “Vietnamese music is like our cuisine, it’s rich and diverse with many flavors,” Larria says, adding that exposure to Western regional music and the growth of artists in Korea and Japan has helped push them further. “In the past, indie artists like us lacked a professional working environment. We could only play our music online or at small-scale venues to create a community. But in the past few years, this S-shaped country has finally gotten global recognition. Local talent keeps emerging. It’s a viral wave.”