One of the longest of the long-term expats living in Vietnam, British-born Kiwi Mark Wildblood has been here since forever. Photo by Francis Xavier
I originally came to Vietnam with… TNT Express Worldwide.
Back in 1990, Vietnam was… ‘young’, like me. We both grew up together and there was a wealth of opportunity in terms of gaining experience. But the money wasn’t so good in those days.
At the time, the expat scene was… interesting. There weren’t too many westerners and a lot of those were Russian and French speakers. The other 300 or so of us formed a fairly tight-knit community.
Saigon in the early 1990s was… unspoilt. There was hardly a neon sign to be found anywhere. Now it has jumped on the corporate bandwagon.
Hanoi back then was… all about approvals to work while Saigon was the commercial capital. It took an eternity to get small things processed, but it was all worth it in the end.
My first band in Vietnam… was called Whisky Tango. It was made up of a German, two Canadians, a Welshman and myself. Hence the name. At the time we were the only option for western rock ‘n roll music and quite frankly, we were a little loose. Hence the name of the band, which is a pseudonym for ‘White Trash’.
I got involved in Rock Fan Club because… I’d been introduced to students who were very musically talented — they asked me to join their band. At the time they had begun to organise gigs with students who had had enough of only hearing Abba and Boney M along with Wonderful Tonight and Hotel California. They needed a bit of guidance on the setup of events, so my involvement was a spin off of developing our own band.
My work on the Australia Day celebrations in Vietnam… was very rewarding. Initially I became a committee member to help with logistics and the importation of goods that could be used on the day. Then I got into the stage side of things. When I think back I laugh at the irony of it all. One year we brought out Bjorn Again to play at Australia Day in the old Saigon Water Park. It was ironic because Bjorn Again were an Abba tribute band.
I decided to start MWP Promotions because… music has always been a passion, and I’m living the dream. As a working musician, I also know how hard it can be for talented artists to make a living, so I wanted to try to help them and the music scene. The hard work comes before the event rather than on the night itself, and there is nothing better than seeing a project develop and witnessing the end result.
The role of MWP is to… provide work for talent, and tailor it to make shows for corporate promotions and ultimately give the general public a wonderful musical experience.
Looking back… the last 25 years have been like watching a child mature. Vietnam is a developing giant.
The expat scene is… now very large! I prefer to focus on the Vietnam market for business, doing the odd expat gig every now and then.
I have stayed here for so long because… Vietnam will never cease to amaze me and surprise me on a daily basis, for both good and bad reasons. On the most part those surprises are for the good.
Vietnam has brought me… a wealth of knowledge, an immense amount of frustration, a fantastic unpredictability and a beautiful family.
If I could change one thing, I would… uninvent EDM, despite the benefits it has brought to my life.