Interview: Windrunner Reveal Favorite Anime Shows, Cyberpunk Concept Record Details, and Vietnamese Metal Scene Suggestions

You just recently dropped your new album, Tan, which is a really solid record. There’s lots of djent, beautiful vocal melodies, and dynamics. My personal favorite is “Sardonyx.” I understand after writing and recording tracks for a while, you can tend to get tired of the songs, but which four songs ended up being your favorites after the whole process?

“Lavender,” “Charcoal,” “Sardonyx,” and “Mahogany.”

The build-up towards the release of Tan was very impressive; I particularly love all the creativity and work that went towards the animated music videos. Are you a fan of anime in general and are there any shows that you enjoy?

Anime in Vietnam is very popular; we all grew up with Doraemon, Dragon Ball, Naruto, Yu-gi-Oh!, and Gintama. We also watched a lot of US cartoon shows on Cartoon Network and Disney Channel too.

Anime aside, Windrunner’s new identity revealed a cyberpunk aesthetic in photoshoots and the universe in your music videos as well as the new album’s artwork. Are there any artists, movies, shows or video games in that style that inspired you?

Definitely Cyberpunk 2077, Alita: Battle Angel, and Gorillaz!

It’s a bummer to hear that David left the band. With their departure, what are your plans for a replacement?

We’re sad to see David go, and wish him all the best on his new chapter. Our friend Anthony from local downtempo deathcore band Bolter is filling in on session duties for now and he’s doing great. As for finding a replacement, we’re not in a big rush. Honestly it’s hard to find potential members that can commit to playing in a band, let alone music in this kind of genre in Vietnam, so we’re just gonna let it flow and see how it goes.

When former vocalist Duong Bui left the band, the next vocalist had a lot of pressure, but I think Nan is doing an amazing job at taking Windrunner to the next level. Can you discuss the history of meeting Nan and having them join the band?

Thanks for the kind words. The music scene in our hometown of Hanoi is actually tiny and almost everyone knows each other so it was only natural that we met as we used to hang out and play music together at local venues.

Genuinely, Windrunner and deathcore act Gai are the only Vietnamese metal bands that I’ve ever heard of. What other bands in your country should we know about?

You should check out Nam’s melodic death metal project Reborn VN, our good friends in Bloodshed and Cút Lộn, and  Bực, who are a new talented young band and just recently released their debut EP.

You’ve shared the stage with some sick bands like After the Burial, Emmure, and Atilla. I could picture Windrunner fitting on a tour with Spiritbox or Periphery. Who do you really want to meet and play with?

It’d be amazing to tour with Spiritbox or Periphery, and we’d appreciate any chance of meeting and playing with international artists. Our biggest dream would be to play with Linkin Park and Bring Me The Horizon though.

I’ve heard that Windrunner has performed around Vietnam to countries like South Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, and Thailand. What other countries are next to hear Windrunner live?

We’d love to tour Europe or the US, but due to logistical reasons that a Vietnamese band has to face, we haven’t been able to tour beyond Asia. Asia is our home field though so we would love to explore even more cities across the region. The pandemic restrictions have been or going to be lifted soon so promoters, please invite us to play in your cities.

Music is a very difficult industry in the US. It is even more difficult to find success as a metal musician. How would you describe the metal music scene and industry in Vietnam? Is it possible to financially survive as a music artist or do you need to balance it with another job?

As is the case in the US and many other places, the music industry in Vietnam is a very brutal place, if there’s even one. The metal scene in particular is very young compared to the US, Europe, or even neighboring countries, and it’s impossible to financially survive solely playing music. On the other hand, without the burden of having to rely on Windrunner as a source of income, we are free to experiment and actually treat this as a creative and artistic endeavour rather than a job.

As a band in Vietnam, do you feel pressure to conform or appeal to a Western audience (US / EU) with English lyrics or certain music styles?

Obviously, we sing in English to be able to appeal to a global audience. And of course the style of music we play originated from the West. However, with the new record TAN, we feel like we’ve been able to step away from that pressure to conform to any certain styles, musically or lyrically, and just write music that we enjoy, while exploring new artistic directions as we wish.

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