"People are excited to see women rapping and making progress in this industry. We become an inspiration."
Aticha “MC Sunthii” Pongpanich is one half of Bang Sue Electrix, a music and hip-hop group that was making the rounds at local bars and clubs and racking up a hit with “Back to the Future” in the pre-Covid world. Making music with her partner Pavel “Pilot Pirx” Ponizil, MC Sunthii is navigating a discerning music industry while working for her family’s dressmaking business.
What are your thoughts on the hip-hop industry in Thailand?
I think the hip-hop industry is booming. A lot of people are gaining interest in this field, and I think it has evolved. As an artist, we want to hone our skills, learn more about the culture, and try to bring out more from this genre. I’m trying to divert my songs to other genres as well, not just purely focusing on hip-hop.
What are some of the struggles you face?
One of the main struggles is to make connections and socialize, because without that it’s very difficult to survive in this industry. I’m still struggling to make my name–only a fraction of people actually know me. It’s hard to gain fame here. Also, I usually like to reflect my own lifestyle or bring up social issues in my songs, so I’m not exactly sure if people are able to connect to it or not. Making connections with the audience is essential.
What is it like trying to make it as a woman in hip-hop?
It is a male-dominated industry, but I feel that when females enter this industry people actually pay more attention because it breaks the norms. People notice you because you’re breaking the stereotype and also because there are fewer female artists.
People are excited to see women rapping and making progress in this industry. We become an inspiration. A lot of artists come and go, but when females step into this industry, it shakes things up and makes it interesting for the audience too.
How has Covid-19 affected your work?
Covid-19 affected all of us. The only thing we can do is stream music online, have online concerts, and make TikTok videos. The hip-hop industry went really quiet and there weren't many events or activities. So, I’m also helping out with my family business, and we make dresses. Obviously, my dream is to become a better artist and make more music, but I can’t earn enough at the moment.
We make music that helps people stay motivated. If we write about political issues, it gets too heavy, so we want to make music that makes people feel happy and alive. We are very new to this industry so we are trying to learn more and establish ourselves. The government has not given us any support. In the music industry, it’s not just about the musicians but also the stage workers, organizers, and so much other work is involved.
All of them are losing their jobs, too. So, it's not just people in this industry but also the people revolving around it. Everyone in the industry is just supporting each other to survive.
All images courtesy of Bang Sue Electrix.