When SBS PopAsia host Andy Trieu told his parents he wanted to purse a career in entertainment, he didn’t get a very good reaction.
“They were also worried about the fact that there weren’t many Asian faces in the Australian TV industry. They said ‘Because there’s not many, how are you going to be one?’” he recalls.
“Through hard work and dedication,” he told them.
“I worked really hard to network and meet good people that have mentored me.”
Trieu (pronounced “True”), born Andy Minh Trieu, grew up in Canberra to Vietnamese parents. An agent later suggested he drop the ‘Minh.’
“They were cool with me dropping the name. But originally they were like ‘Yeah you get a degree and get like a real job!’ he laughs.
“I was trying to find any reason to do something in Sydney and get out of Canberra!”
After wining several martial arts contests, Trieu scored a few stunt gigs on Tomorrow When The War Began and Wolverine before being cast as a ninja in Nine’s kid’s cooking show, Kitchen Whiz. It was enough to win over sceptical parents.
“I think definitely wanted me to be secure and find something like a real job that they have is that your blind. Once they saw that I was able to sustain myself in entertainment they were OK with it.”
Trieu is now approaching three years as host of PopAsia, following from Jamaica de la Cruz. The show has a fervent audience, devoted to all the colour and style of infectious pop generated from countries including South Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand and more.
“PopAsia started as a radio show which we still do daily, and because of the popularity we’ve expanded into other platforms obviously like Qantas, TV and online where everyone wants to consume content these days.
“We also have digital radio show now where we’re getting more talent on. MyChonny is part of the line up, Eat Your Kimchi -these guys are YouTubers. We’re getting K-Pop stars in as well. So we’re getting a bunch of really cool people to join our digital radio podcast line-up because that’s what our audience wants.
“We’ve got a flagship show called Hashtag Hits which is hosted by Nat Tran at six o’clock every day, so that’s adding a lot of value for listeners on our SBS PopAsia app, which is almost like a Spotify now, where people can just access Asian pop music whenever they want.”
Trieu admits he had to get up to speed fast all the intricacies and sub-genres of the music.
“I was a fan of old school J-Pop, but the pace of the music industry in Asia goes so fast. There’s around 150 new bands come out every single year but around the following year around only 25 survive. So by working at this job eight hours a day I was able just to focus on the music and get up to speed really quickly,” he explains.
“Asian Pop is as broad and colourful as Western pop.
“K-Pop music videos start around $50,000. But the top companies spend up to $500,000 so all the other companies are trying to match that slick production. There are explosions, everything is just amazing and immaculate. A lot of the K-Pop dancers train four to five years before they even debut. And it’s not even guaranteed that they’ll actually have a debut.
“Western artists might focus more on the vocals but in Asian Pop it has to be an all round package, from the visuals to the costuming to the dancing or personalities.
“And the other interesting fact is they have a life span where it ends toward the end of their thirties because they need to go into the army.
“They’ve got this lifespan of seven to 13 years if they make it. And then they have to go the army and then they’re done!”
It’s 18 months mandatory service for South Korea’s young men, Trieu explains.
PopAsia has also managed to secure interviews with some of the genre’s big names, or travel to where they are.
“The biggest band right now that our fans go crazy over is BTS,” he continues.
“They came to our studio and shortly after they exploded. So we got them at the right time.
“I’ve had a chance to travel to China, Japan and Korea twice because rather than waiting for the stars to travel to our shores, Korea is the Hollywood of Asian pop. There’s just an abundance of content. We’re shooting 3 A-list interviews every single day, hanging out with the rappers, and we’re able to roll that out over a couple of months.”
If SBS can pull it off, an Asian version of Eurovision will also be a big coup. Announced for 2017 last year, there is no word when it will take place.
“To have something on an even bigger scale would really bring Asian pop to a western audience,” says Trieu.
“I know that SBS is doing everything in their power to work towards it but I guess it might be up to other factors -who knows?”
Meanwhile there is more K-Pop and J-Pop clips to roll, on air, online and social media for the show’s fervent audience.
At least after all the hard work, Trieu now has the approval of his parents.
“Now they watch SBS PopAsia and they tune into the radio show and they keep up with my Snapchat and Instagram,” he adds.
“They just pay me out really!
PopAsia airs 9am Sundays on SBS VICELAND