Top: Mongkorn Timkul, left, DJs earlier this month at Wonderfruit.
Two years ago I was invited to join the Khaosod English team as a contributor. The aim was for me to drop knowledge on Bangkok’s small yet vibrant underground music, arts and club scene.
Since writing my first column in 2016, I’ve interviewed many local DJs, artists, club owners and promoters. In my opinion those folks are the fabric of Bangkok’s scene and meeting them all has left me deeply inspired. So much so, it made me realize that it’s time to put down the pen and focus on producing my own music.
That’s why I’ll be saying “live long and prosper” to my readers in this final column. But before I go, let me give a shout out to a few places and people that I feel have put Bangkok on the map.
In 2016 I was a bit skeptical about Thonglor nightspot Beam. I wasn’t trying to be mean but – from my experience – the early 2000s saw mega clubs such as Astra and Ministry of Sound go belly-up in a very short time. As ambitious as those clubs were, they just couldn’t survive in what was a small scene.
But Beam came at a time when electronic music was appealing to a younger crowd. On top of that, the venue’s state-of-the-art sound system and A-list DJs such as Derrick May Goldie taking control of the booth on weekends made Beam the jewel in the Thonglor nightlife crown.
It wasn’t long after Beam’s opening that another contender – De Commune – opened its doors in November 2017. It has since earned props as a venue that allows other local promoters to organize events. One year later, crews such as Phatfunk and Mela are packing the venue’s dance floor.
De Commune owner Phatompol “New” Chanin says he has many fond memories of the events that took place this year.
“We’ve had a lot of really cool events this year, I think we did okay,” New said. For 2019, New and his six business partners plan on expanding and renovating De Commune. So expect a bigger and better venue by spring.
In 2017 I interviewed Thai Cannabis activists Rattapon “Guide” Sanrak. He, along with his cannabis activist group “Highland,” has been educating folks and changing attitudes toward medical cannabis in Thailand.
As some may have already heard, Thailand’s parliament on Tuesday legalized medical marijuana. This is a huge step. In a recent telephone interview, I asked Guide if he feels he made a difference with Highland, and what he thinks about the government’s decision to go legal.
“I think [Highland] definitely helped change attitudes” he said, but added that he remains skeptical about the future medical cannabis industry, as it may differ from that in the United States and Canada, as Thailand risks letting big pharmaceutical companies take over the market. “It’s not gonna be as open as people would like it to be,” Guide said.
To think that two decades ago organizing festivals of this magnitude was considered a dream. From the workshops, food and music; love it or hate it, Wonderfruit has earned acclaim as one of Asia’s top music festivals.
What’s great about it: There are sound systems and music everywhere and people can explore and experience tunes they wouldn’t normally hear. To top that off, it’s all done in a safe environment where festival-goers are free to enjoy themselves.
In all, I’m just as excited about Bangkok’s evolving music scene now as I was when I started in the early ‘90s.
I’m grateful and thankful for all these experiences and – most of all – I’m glad to share them with you all. I hope the people and places I’ve written about can inspire you as much as they have me.
Special thanks to Todd for taking me under his wing and Lobsang for the editing. Also big ups to Sun and Brady for taking photos for my previous columns.
Until next time, Dub be good to you.