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The New Bosses 2022: David Nguyen, Rock for People

Continuing a series of interviews with the 2022 New Bosses, IQ speaks to David Nguyen, booker at Rock for People (CZ)

By IQ on 21 Oct 2022

David Nguyễn, Rock For People

David Nguyen, Rock for People

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous New Bosses 2022 interview with Dan Rais, brand partnerships agent at CAA. The series continues with David Nguyen, booker at Rock for People in the Czech Republic.

David Nguyen is second-generation Vietnamese, living in the Czech Republic where he was raised in the spa town of Jáchymov, where Marie Curie discovered the uranium for which she won the Nobel prize.

In 2010, high schooler Nguyen wanted to see The Prodigy, Billy Talent, Alexisonfire, and Skindred at Rock for People festival, and to have enough money to buy beer, so he launched an ambassador project for the fans to get a free festival pass. The fateful festival led him to a work opportunity for social media agency Social Visage and renowned music magazine Rock & Pop, where he reached the position of online editor-in-chief.

At Rock for People, he gradually became one of the main bookers, and with his contribution, the festival sold-out this year for the first time since 1995. Nguyen also manages Prague-based indie band I Love You Honey Bunny and books talent for Nouvelle Prague showcase festival, Prague Summer Festival, and Rock for People Concerts shows in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.


Does your background in journalism and social media help with any aspects of your festival work?
The knowledge from my previous jobs helped me a lot with my booking career. All these previous experiences, plus the possibility to tour with a band made me a more complex person, and thanks to this I can see things from a different perspective.

As a talent booker for a number of events, what is your process for trying to discover the next big act? (are there any showcase events/radio stations that you prefer, for example)?
It’s a little mix of everything, but I believe that nothing will beat the personal recommendation from the agents that I’ve been working closely with. Or sometimes you are just lucky because you found a great band opening for a bigger act or hidden somewhere at a showcase festival. My goal is actually not to discover the next big act, I prefer working with so-called baby bands on a long-term basis and grow with them step by step. Starting with the best possible slot at the festival and a follow-up with a headline show is the best scenario for every new band in the market.

If you could offer the 20-year-old David one piece of advice, what would it be?
Buy a lot of bitcoins and sell them eight years later? (ha-ha) Tell my younger self to be patient with whatever he is dealing with in life and try to solve everything with a calm mind.

“I prefer working with so-called baby bands on a long-term basis and grow with them step by step”

You are also the manager of a band – I Love You Honey Bunny. What has been the biggest challenge for them as they try to restart their live career in the post-covid ‘new normal?
The band was close to signing a label and then covid came and stopped our plans. Thinking back, so many things happened in these past two years – livestream concerts, drive-in cinema concerts, virtual concert in a computer game (Rock for People In the Game), first Covid-free live shows, recording new songs in Amsterdam, and an attempt to finish the album in Brighton, which thanks to Brexit-related complications the producer flew to Prague instead. We did not expect the song Yellow & Blue to be still relevant eight years after it was written. Hopefully, the war in Ukraine will end soon.

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
We need to improve our interpersonal relationships. During Covid, everyone was saying that we are in this together and now it’s back to what it was before Covid and sometimes even worse. The entertainment industry is still struggling, the war in Ukraine is affecting our lives, and everyone is trying to make all the money they lost in the past two years, as fast as they can. This is not the sustainable way, we need to be more open and honest here. And it’s not only between us and the agents/management… all the suppliers shouldn’t take advantage of this and make inflation an excuse to make everything more expensive when they are still paying the same to their staff.

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
When I Love You Honey Bunny got a chance to play at the Envol Et Macadam festival in Quebec. We DIY-booked our first tour ever with a sleeping at Walmart parking lot experience and surviving on eating poutine and Vietnamese baguettes. The Canadian tour connected us and showed us that this is really what we want to do in our lives, and also that the card you are using for payments in Europe is actually not a credit card, and you can’t rent a car with it.

“We need to improve our interpersonal relationships”

Which three acts would be on your ideal festival line-up?
Hard question… that’s worse than asking me what I am going to eat, because I spend hours choosing my food. Billy Talent is one of my oldest favourite bands, so definitely them. I love the guys from Missio, who took the risk and flew from the US to the Covid-safe version of Rock for People last year. Leoniden from Germany is one of the best live bands that I know, and they can handle drinking Slivovitz with their promoter, so they must be on the bill!

What one thing would you like artists to learn about coming to perform in the Czech Republic?
The Czech Republic is beautiful and has places other than just Prague. I understand that some bands are flying in and driving an hour or two so they think they are still in the capital city but shouting “Hey, Prague!” in a different city is disrespectful.

Also, never take money from Euronet ATMs, which give rip-off exchange rates, and that we have a different currency than in Budapest where they played the day before. HUF20,000 (€50) is not like CZK20,000 (€800), or with a bad Euronet rate it’s even €1000+… you can’t even drink that much beer in an evening!


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