Rising San Francisco duo Strange Blanket will bring their brand of hazy instrumental hip-hop to Jam on Jan 25. BK chatted to Ryan Galvan aka Gralvan and Marcus Daniels aka snack|BOT about their debut album Creatures of Leisure Vol.1 and the art of collaboration.

When did you first get into music?
When I was 9 or 10 years old, my older cousin was making music with a friend and I highly looked up to him. I downloaded Fruity Loops and I’ve been messing with music programs ever since. I had no idea what I was really doing; I just played around trying to be creative. I never had any musical training apart from some drum lessons when I was 14.
snack|BOT: I was kind of born into it. I have a very musical and eclectic family. I was exposed to literally every form of music. My grandfather was a jazz musician who played in bands with musicians like Buddy Miles. My mom was really into hip-hop and alternative rock. My dad loved funk and the oldies, but was a huge hip-hop fan as well.

How did Strange Blanket come into being?
snack|BOT: Gralvan and I met in our teenage years through a mutual friend. After a few years we finally got together at my home studio and worked on our first track together. We didn't really do anything with it but it was a good start and we kept in touch over the years. More and more we'd start tossing ideas back and forth about starting this collective of fellow musicians and making compilation albums, but we never got anybody to commit. Finally we decided to just do it ourselves until people caught on. After a while it just became a duo.

How would you describe the Strange Blanket sound?
snack|BOT: With Strange Blanket, it’s less of a sound we try to capture and more of a feeling or a vision we try to create. Our sound is pretty much a collection of everything we experience in life. That said, we like to blend more electronic hip-hop with ultra-melodic sounds, while bringing in hard-hitting drums at times over synthy soundscapes. It’s something that will hopefully forever keep evolving.

How did Creatures of Leisure Vol. 1 come together?
snack|BOT: It originally started off as the beginning of a series of compilation albums, but since we never could get anybody else to commit, we just went it alone. It was an interesting process. We locked ourselves in the studio with a few synth keyboards and midi controllers and just pieced it together. A few tracks incorporated other influences. For the most part it went pretty smoothly and we built the confidence needed to get out there and start sharing it with the world. It’s the first of many to come. We don't have a set number on how many exactly we want to put out, but we just intend to keep going until life doesn't let us anymore. We’ve started on Vol. 2 over here. We’re really trying to soak in as much of Thailand as we can to pour it into this next installment. The Thai people and culture in general are extremely inspiring.

You’ve known each other for a long time; what’s it like working together?
snack|BOT: We're both a couple of freakshows, so it's an interesting and unorthodox process! We usually see eye-to-eye, though. When we add it all up, we haven't really been working on music collectively for very long. We made about three random tracks over the course of a few years and then didn't start on Creatures of Leisure Vol. 1 until August of 2012. When you work with people you're comfortable with its not hard at all to make whatever you can to the best of both of your abilities.

Your remix of ASAP Rocky got some hits on YouTube; is remixing something that interests you?
snack|BOT: Honestly, we're not really interested in doing remixes. We understand them and their purpose, but don't really feel the need to make it a habit. That ASAP Rocky remix was just a straight-up marketing tool. We were in the studio and just dropped that track as we were working on a more trappy kind of sound. We were like, "Why not? Let’s see how much traffic it will bring..." and on Soundcloud we got into the thousands of hits in a few days until they pulled it for copyright infringement. Then we just tossed it on YouTube and forgot about it.

snack|BOT, you’ve worked with Phife Dawg (of A Tribe Called Quest); what was that like?
 It was pretty crazy. I grew up listening to A Tribe Called Quest just like every other hip-hop head around. My dad would sit me down when I was six and school me on the whole Native Tongues collective and explain to me how much of an impact they had on their generation and how it went beyond the music. So to grow up and get the opportunity to work with him, let alone have him ask me to be on his production team, was insane. He really taught me a lot of the dos and don'ts of the industry. I started DJing for him when his manager and DJ Rasta Root couldn't make it, and eventually I just became his fully-fledged hype man. They started taking me on tour around the States and then we started booking world tours once his health was back to 100%. The whole experience was the greatest thing ever and I'm eternally grateful for it.

Are there any artists you’d particularly like to work with?
snack|BOT: The internet makes it easy to connect with people who without it would seem almost impossible to get in touch with. However, when it comes to collaborating we believe it goes beyond the music. We would prefer to work with very open-minded and forward-thinking people. The list would almost be endless. We got to catch [French producer] Onra while out here in Bangkok. We were fans of his music and now being able to have interactions with him just solidifies our appreciation of his creativeness. From a purely musical perspective, we would like to seek out those unique artists like Mr.Oizo, Neon Indian, Free The Robots, Ariel Pink, Tame Impala and D-Styles.

What can people expect from your upcoming gig at Jam?
Gralvan: We pretty much roll with the bare minimum, so our live sets consist of laptop and Midi controllers. When it comes to a Strange Blanket show expect the unexpected. We like to keep it as fresh as possible, and to leave no stone unturned.

Any plans for future releases?
Gralvan: We just plan to keep making music that pushes our limits. We want to take Creatures of Leisure Vol. 2 to that next level. Also, snack|BOT has a solo project he's working on right now, titled The Facts of Life, with some pretty cool guest appearances from the likes of Anya Kvitka and Maestro Gamin to name a few. snack|BOT is also producing Anya Kvitka's debut album, alongside the one and only Bobby Ozuna.

LISTEN: http://strangeblanket.bandcamp.com/album/creatures-of-leisure-vol-1


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As one-half of soulful Copenhagen house duo Leodoris, Kristian Rix has remixed the likes of Metronomy and Hercules and Love Affair, as well as released critically acclaimed singles “Run” and “What If.” Now, after lighting up Glow on New Year’s Eve, he returns for a DJ set at the new venue Grease Mon-Sat on Jan 18 alongside Dane Wetschler and DJ Coran.

How did you first get into music?
At very, very first I started borrowing my older sister's records as a young kid. She listened to Tears For Fears, Eurythmics, Duran Duran and so on. Shortly after that I remember standing focused, super alert and ready to press the play and record buttons as I listened to this pioneering Danish radio show presented by a speed-talking, very, very cool and very gay host named Kim Schumacher, who played all the new exciting stuff from abroad. I was really into making these "mixtapes", and took it very seriously! The mixing exercise was getting as little silence between the songs making it feel like a continuous mix! I remember handing out these cassettes to the older kids at school and feeling very proud—without showing it, of course.

You tasted some success with your previous band Rio; what did you learn from that experience?
I learned a lot. First of all, the other guys where really great musicians, so I learned a lot music-wise. Before joining those guys, I had mostly just played around with music software for the fun of it and since the other guys each had their instruments (drums, bass, guitars), I guess I eventually got the role as the guy putting it together on the computer, arranging, and mixing it. We put out a 7-track EP and the result was far from perfect, but it taught me a lot. It's quite funny actually, now that I think of it, when they asked me to join them, on the first night in the studio they said: "so, Kristian, we thought maybe you could sing!" and I went, "No, I don't sing!". So, for the next time we met, I bought a MicroKORG and brought my laptop to make myself of some use.

How did you hook up with Erikka Bahnsen [vocalist] and begin Leodoris?
We were friends and one night, after a few too many drinks, we had a spontaneous acoustic jam session. I had never heard her sing, and she hadn't sung since childhood, but still I was really blown away by the character of her voice. In-between the very late-night jam session errors I heard snippets of her vocals that were pure gold and like nothing I had heard before. We agreed to form a band and see if we could turn those snippets into entire songs. 

How would you describe the Leodoris sound?
It has electronic music characteristics to it, sometimes with a house-like beat, synths, and so on, but it's also more melodic I guess than a typical house track. It has a warm side to it as well, I think, especially with Erikka's vocals. Maybe you can hear some disco-ish elements here and there too.

You’ve remixed some big names; what makes a good remix?
I think a good remix takes the original somewhere else and makes it a track of its own without losing reference to musical elements from the original. But a good remix can also be to make a not-so-danceble song work in a club without taking it too far from the original. The audience has to think "hey, that track is awesome!" not just "hey, that's a funny take on the original."

Could you tell us a bit about your creative process—do you have a set idea of how a track is built or does it come organically?
It's never thought out before it's created. Personally, I do have a lot of ideas of what I think works well in songwriting, but they more just come to mind as we start jamming. The process is quite simple in a way, it often just begins with a basic beat and then we add instruments like bass, synths, guitar and then the sound that appears often surprises you by having a mood or sound to it that you didn't expect. From there we usually add vocals, arrange the track and see how it works live.

How did you come to the attention of the This is Music record label?
We were actually about to release on our own again, since releasing "Run" ourselves had been quite a rewarding experience. But established labels can do a bit more of course, so we picked a few that released artists we could relate to, and sent them what we thought of releasing. We went with This Is Music, partly because they are not only releasing underground electronic music, but also alternative pop and other genres. 

What are your plans for future releases? Have you got any new material ready to go?
We've got some finished tracks that we have performed on our live shows that we might put out. But no specific dates yet. 

What can Bangkok expect from your DJ set?
That I won't play a single track that I don't think is awesome! Well, I usually figure out what to play when I get there, get a sense of the vibe of the crowd. The range of music could be all the way from slow-house/disco to house music and all the way to more uptempo minimal techno dubby stuff if people are up for it - as long as it makes your hips or feet move, preferably both. But actually I'm super excited to see this new venue with a bigass LED ceiling that should make Watergate in Berlin look like a tiny pizza sign!



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The Naked and Famous

Number of people killed in traffic accidents during the 7-day period around the New Year Festivities.

Percentage of accidents resulting from drunk driving.

Nitirat VS Thammasat
Thammasat University agonized over what to do with the Nitirat group, which is fiercely critical of the lese majeste laws, and hence fiercely hated by royalists. In the end, Thammasat stood on the side of free speech.

The Abortion Scandal
Howard Wang allegedly convinced his Maxim model girlfriend to get an abortion.

The giant riverside mall finally revived the spirit of the much-missed Suan Lum night bazaar and gave the riverside a cool new place to stroll, eat and drink. It stirred up a social media storm again 12 months later with its dual-priced Ferris wheel—B250 for foreigners, B200 for Thais—and the Dutch operator ultimately raised prices to B250 for all.

The Naked and Famous
The fast-rising indie electro starlets from Auckland rocked Moonstar with their all-too-brief gig.

You know you’ve gone viral when the Ministry of Culture wants you banned. But for Simsimi to die, all they had to do was wait.

Faux Frenzy
Chocolate Ville, with its fake lighthouse and Disney village vibe, opened to packed crowds who just can’t get enough of the Wine I Love You team’s mix of Thai and inter dishes.

Black Lips
The psychedelic “flower punk” rockers made their much anticipated debut in Bangkok and didn’t disappoint.

One of the year’s coolest openings was, of course, another wine bar. Scarlett boasts sweeping views of Silom, an actual wine menu and decent food, though, unlike much of the competition.



Number of people interviewed who said that food prices, not political conflict, was their biggest concern. Attempts to control the price of khao kaeng ensued, and ultimately failed.

Bars with the Word Wine
This trend started last year, but 2012 saw even more of a wine obsession: new branches of Wine Connection, The Wine Bar, Wine We Well, I’m Wine...

One of the biggest boosts to the improved indie scene was the arrival of this new venue in the heart of Ekkamai; complete with a decent sound system.

The Sleeveles Garden
The new brand does vintage at local prices, and we at BK became instant fans of their leather bags.

The Slap
A customs official slapped a security officer. But, for once, the poo yai got into trouble.

Our PM went to a hotel during work hours and met some businessmen. Shock ensued.

Hey, Big Spender
The B2 billion compensation package approved for victims of the 2010 protest failed to achieve reconciliation. As for the B2.27 trillion infrastructure and flood rehabilitation package, it just raised fears of massive corruption.

Deputy PM Chalerm Yubamrung on his odd behavior in parliament following his attendance at a wedding.


Kittichaya “Key” Gaesuwan

Pichet Klunchun
Pichet was the highlight of La Fete, with his last performance ever of Pichet Klunchun and Myself, followed by a renewed focus on his Chang Theatre.

Kittichaya “Key” Gaesuwan
Her role in She didn’t got unnoticed, as her acting talent and androgynous good looks swept boys, girls and everything in-between off their feet.


Shakespeare Must Die

Shakespeare Must Die
The Thai Film Censorship board banned director Ing K’s Macbeth interpretation of Macbeth for “causing divisiveness.” “All this is nonsense. We’re talking about a horror movie!” Ing K told BK ahead of the ban’s appeal. The appeal was not granted.

Dickinson’s Culture Café
One of the hottest openings on Phra Athit this year, Dickinson’s blends the best of Café Democ and Club Culture’s sounds in what looks like a classic bakery-cum-pawn shop.

Good to be Gay
gCircuit (April 13-15) was bigger and better than ever before thanks to a rooftop location at CentralWorld and the super cute porn star, Koh Masaki.

Movies with Rak in theIR Title
We began this year with Rak Wei Hei and ATM Err Rake Error in January, things continued with Rak Leaw Few Ah and Rak in February. March brought Rak Sood Teen and Rak Aow Yu. And Rak 555 opened in April. Yes, there is such a thing as too much love.

I’m gonna tell Kru AnGkana!
The little boy who’s going to tell on you garnered 1.2 million views.

Hot Prints
Local designers Lalalove London and Painkiller usher out the pastel trend with big, bold prints.

11 million
Numbers of pictures users had uploaded to Instagram by April 2012, according to Zocialrank.com. That was just the beginning, though, and it’s probably closer to 11 million a day by now.

Return of the 90s
Joni Anwar’s comeback concert signaled a sudden revival of Thai pop stars from one or two decades ago, from Wasit Mookdavijit’s return (of Crub and Day Tripper) and Nuvo’s reunion gig to the Sonic Attack 2012: 90s-The Best! concert.

Siam Vintage
It looks like a gallery in an old European department store, but it’s actually Siam’s new hipster mecca, packed with stores dedicated to the whole preppy, vintage trend.


Lady Gaga

Mall Overload?
The Nine, Rain Hill, Thaniya Shopping Plaza—the community mall craze kicked off by K Village in 2010 showed no sign of slowing down. But with Mega Bangna opening (May 5), big continues to be best on the city’s outskirts.

Chompee Champion
With Death in Venice, Jitti Chompee takes his physical and experimental dance style to an empty swimming pool lined with garbage bags. In 2012, he also performed in P.Tendercool’s warehouse and Bed Supperclub, showing you don’t need a theater to put on sold-out performances.

Lady Gaga
Fake Rolex scandal. Traditional Thai headpiece scandal. Thai flag scandal. Overpriced tickets scandal. Mother Monster was fittingly scandalous.

Speakeasy Clones
When the elegant Speakeasy opened on the top floor of Muse, prohibition-chic and Boardwalk Empire elegance still seemed like a fresh concept. Eight months later, the speakeasy trend is getting pretty tired, not just in Bangkok but all over Southeast Asia.

Number of Boeing 747s required to deliver Lady Gaga’s equipment.

Galaxy SIII
It got more Google searches in 2012 than the iPhone 5, it topped CNET’s Best Phone of the Year list and, for the very first time, it proved Apple was not necessarily the world’s best smartphone maker.


Jason Mraz

Price 95 police cadets paid to have answers to the academy’s exam wired to them by radio.

Fine for Channel 3 after a woman bared her breasts while painting a canvas on Thailand’s Got Talent. Huge publicity for TGT followed, along with promises that this was a terrible mistake and that it will never happen again.

Isaan Indoors
Somtam Der (our favorite), Noreste, Café Chilli Zaap and Thai Lao Yeh all opened in the first half of 2012, and all pledged to deliver somtam that’s even better than at the street-side stalls despite their handsome decors.

Smith, soon followed by Quince, marked renewed interest in eating every little bit of your favorite farm animals, from calf’s tongue to pig’s bone marrow.

Jason Mraz
After having to cancel a gig in Khao Yai last year, the globally adored crooner finally made it to Bangkok.

Moving Democracy
Café Democ leaves Democracy Monument and reopens at Silom Plaza where it’s been delivering top-notch electro ever since.

Cocktail Revival
As people gradually bored of the whole wine thing, cocktails made a comeback with more Thai mixologists finally making a name for themselves: Karn Liangsrusuk at Escapade, Passapong Phetpradit at W XYZ and Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn, who designed the cocktails at Roof by Muse.

Symbols of Style launched the retail part of their online lifestyle magazine. But the whole year really marked a boom in online fashion retail, thanks to Zalora, Reebonz, Central, Siamism (from Siam Center).

B41.7 billion
Estimated amount Thais spent on gambling during Euro 2012.

B400 million
Amount paid by Grammy for the rights to broadcast the Euro 2012 tournament in Thailand, which resulted in True cable subscribers not being able to see the games and nearly triggered a civil war.



Donuts distributed to poor people nationwide to commemorate Thaksin’s birthday.

Number of babies born to mother Duangchanok Wangwitthayaskul, the first recorded case of sextuplets in Thailand. All were named after their parents’ favorite car brands.

Thai AirAsia confirmed it would move all its domestic and international flights from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang from October, part a three-stage development that will see the airport ultimately handle 66.5 million passengers a year by 2027.

Best In Show
P-047, the first independent production from veteran Bangkok director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, opened and showed that Thai cinema can still do mind-bending indie thrillers; while Echo Planet and Yak (Oct) proved that local 3D animated flicks are on the rise.

Radio Retro
Hip Isaan roots-repping record label ZudRangMa expanded its tastemaking orbit by launching a relentless bi-weekly  podcast series.

Code Red
Agent provocateur Manit Sriwanichpoom’s latest exhibition, Obscene, opened at H Gallery, taking aim at the PR machine behind Yingluck’s rise to power.

Hot Air
NASA cancels an atmospheric study of climate in Thailand after a decision on whether to approve its request to use Thailand’s U-Tapao air base as the project’s operations center was delayed and delayed some more. Critics argued it could be a cover for military or weather-controlling purposes.



Olympic Anguish
Thailand’s haul of 2 silver and 1 bronze medals at the London Olympics 2012 marked a fall from 2008 (2 gold, 2 silver). Hardly surprising when only 38 athletes were sent to compete, compared to 51 four years earlier.

Sonic Youth
90s kids got their retro fill as 13 Thai indie rock bands from that era were joined by Britpop faves Suede for Sonic Attack at BITEC.

The internet is eating itself
A portly young man strikes a hieratic pose, a fine sheer dress floating about him. Meet Mae Ban Mee Nuad. Over 114,000 Facebook followers can’t be wrong.

Ocean of What?
The wonderful all-white electro festival from exotic Europe, Sensation, arrived in Bangkok without even announcing its line-up of “the world’s best DJs.” Still, didn’t we all have a good time?

Shambhala Shambles
Another big-money Thai flick, another star vehicle takes a wrong turn…all the way to Tibet. We’re sure plenty of soul-searching is still going on.

B350 million
Amount of drug money controlled by just five inmates at Nakhon Si Thammarat prison, using over 300 different bank accounts.

Percentage of unemployed people in Thailand who do not seek work.

40 million
Total Youtube views that PSY’s “Gangnam Style” got from Thailand, out of 852 million views worldwide.


BK on iPad launches!

BK on iPad launches!
And soon won best publishing app at the Asian Publishing Awards 2012. Download it at bkmagazine.com/bkapp

Zense and Zensibility
After two years away, popular rooftop haunt Zense Gourmet Deck & Lounge Panorama returned to the city cramming five kitchens under the one renovated roof courtesy of Amata Luphaiboon, who designed Sala Phuket Resort and Six Senses Hideaway Samui.

Red Bull Outrage
The young heir to the Red Bull energy drink empire was accused of killing a motorcycle policeman after hitting him with his Ferrari

Relentless Rock
Former Oasis guitarist and notorious bad boy Noel Gallagher kicks off Bangkok’s season of rock with his band the Flying Birds coming to town on Sep 20, followed by Keane on Oct 4 and Maroon 5 on Oct 8.

After Uniqlo opened, it seemed the only global fasion chain missing in Bangkok was H&M. That’s now been fixed. We can die happy.

Craft beers
After years of the same old beer, Bangkok is suddenly awash in boutique brews

Culture One
Bangkok’s biggest electro fest turned 5.

Amount the army paid each month to keep its airship inflated, which at B350 million had still never flown after two years on the ground. After paying an extra B50 million, the army got it to fly, then crashed it, with costs to repair it now estimated at B30 million.

Wet and Wild
Lovers of naked public baths rejoiced as Thailand’s first onsen, Yunomori Onsen & Spa, opened, while just across the parking lot, thrill-seekers can now try to keep their kit on while riding the machine-made waves at Flow House.


Maroon 5

Maroon 5  
Tickets to see Adam Levine and the boys sold out in moments, demonstrating that Bangkok loves him, and that the art of scalping tickets is alive and well.

Not only is it a Thai movie we can be proud of, but it’s an animation. A bit long-winded at times, Yak wasn’t necessarily the easiest movie for kids, but it remains a great adventure.

Percentage of television audience in Bangkok who watched the final episode of TV soap Rang Ngao, Channel 3’s most watched lakorn ever.

Signor Sassi
Did the city really need another swanky rooftop restaurant? Of course we did! And this London import already has branches in Lebanon and Kuwait, so it must be doing something right.

Good Bread
With the farmer’s market at Bo.lan going strong, and Quince serving Michael Conkey’s bread (www.facebook.com/conkeysbakery), there’s more and more opportunities to eat really good bread in Bangkok, such as the loaves from Maison Jean-Philippe (tiny.cc/uocwlw).

Longboards versus Fixies
Fixies clearly continue to dominate the streets, despite a few hipsters turning to the elongated skateboards. Need proof? The number of bike-obsessed cafes we now have in Bangkok: Velayenn, Aran Biciclette, Seal Urban, Sweet Pista and newcomer Café Velodrome.

B4.8 million
Price of House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranond’s fact-finding mission to a football match in England.

Futsal Fiasco
On Nov 1, the FIFA Futsal World Cup kicked off, only not at the B1.2 billion stadium Bangkok built for it. “Not ready,” said FIFA. “Not my fault,” said our governor, who blamed the floods and threatened to sue FIFA.

Babble & Rum
Just the kind of chill, modern bar the riverside needed. Particularly if you need to warm up before hitting the madness on Phra Athit. Still on the riverside, The Siam launched Deco Bar with a 1920s jazz influence.

Art Out of the Box
Not only did we have a great cultural season in 2012’s last three months, but we saw art leave traditional spaces and take over bars and warehouses. The Bangkok Poetry Night grew a sister event, Bombyx, more focused on traditional narration. Jam Café Bangkok opened with resolutely artsy intentions. And P.Tendercool continued to welcome Jitti Chompee’s bold performances in its warehouse.


Le Beaulieu

Winter? What Winter?
The beer parks are here, but not the “winter breeze” we here at BK have been dreaming about all year.

Not only did he get reelected, but he quickly followed that up with a visit to Thailand—clearly, the man knows how to celebrate. The highlight? Carefully selected images that made Yingluck look she was trying to compete with Michelle O.

Le Beaulieu  
The French fine dining institution moved to new digs at the Athenee Office Tower. The food is still classic, still superb and still super expensive.

Wet Dreams
Pheu Thai MP Prasit Chaisrisa asked Democrat MP Rangsima Rodrassami if she’d object to him dreaming about her. She was not impressed.

JJ Green
Chatuchak got a new neighbor, an outdoor mall with 150 cutesy air-con boutiques spread over 21 rai.

Adieu Pepsi
Thailand was one of the very rare countries where Pepsi outsells Coca-Cola. Now you can hardly find Pepsi at all, after Est entered the scene with the backing of Pepsi’s former distributor.

Boonlert Bust
Pitak Siam’s 12,000-strong rally falls a tad short of General Boonlet’s promise of flooding the streets with one million people.


Elton John

Rank of Thailand in the list of countries who have viewed “Gangnam Style” the most. ‘Nuff said.

Old Brits
Elton John and Sting were in town. Not that we’re complaining about getting a couple of elder statesman, since this year saw plenty of fresh acts coming to Bangkok.

The Impossible
Yes, The Impossible was focused on an affluent British family on vacation at a high-end resort, leading some to complain that the film did not represent the 170,000 Asians who died in the 2004 tsunami. But it did capture all the drama of the tsunami in Khao Lak as experienced by all who were there, foreigners and locals alike. A superb film.

Less than two months from the Feb 17 gubernatorial election, the democrats have yet to confirm Sukhumbhand while Pheu Thai have yet to name their candidate.

The Mayan calendar ended with a whimper. But at least we got some good parties out of it.


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Chic multi-brand store nexttoNORMAL are bringing over the equally stylish London electro-pop outfit Citizens! to perform at the Zen Event Gallery on Dec 4 along with a special fashion show. We chatted with keyboardist Lawrence Diamond about what it was like recording with Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and the often strained relationship between music and fashion.

How did Citizens! form?
We formed when Tom [Burke, vocals] and I were fighting over a stereo at a house party. We were both trying to play the songs we thought would get the party started. We had slightly different ideas about what would get people up and dancing—the fact that it was the Flaming Lips or Suicide means we were probably both wrong. Mike was at the party, too, and when he saw us in heated discussion, he sat us down, poured us a whiskey and suggested we join forces to form a super-pop band that could combine all those influences and more.

Congratulations on the release of your debut album. Does it surprise you how quickly Citizens! have picked up popularity and praise?
It's weird because we did everything back to front. We wrote the songs first, then we recorded them and then we played live. Normally the gigs come first. So the fact that people are finding us and enjoying what we do is, of course, a massive pleasure and a surprise. It's only a year since our first live gig so to have been to four continents in as many months is crazy.

How did you come to sign with Kitsuné? What are they like to work with?
Gildas [Loaëc, label co-founder] was one of the first people to hear our band and he had the confidence to put one of our earliest demos on a Kitsuné compilation before we even had a name. That's pretty cool and you just feel inspired to work with people like that. He also had great shoes—we can't stress how important Gildas's shoes were to us working with him.

What was it like recording your album with Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand? Is he a tough taskmaster?
Alex made us have cold showers every morning, during which we had to sing our favorite Celine Dion song in B-flat, note for note, pitch perfect, or we weren't allowed in the studio that day. Stuff like that makes you bring your chops up to speed double-quick.

How was your recent Australian tour? Parklife is a big deal!
Parklife blew our mind. We regularly wake up and can't really believe it happened. Just hanging out drinking Bundaburg rum with Tame Impala, Chairlift, Passion Pit, St Lucia every day, then partying every night till the wee, wee hours. It made everything slightly surreal and twisted. We also got to know that the string vest, commonly known as a onesie, is the accepted clothing for getting very drunk in a field in Australia.

What’s been your most memorable tour experience?
Tom danced on stage in Switzerland with Mark Ronson, Johnny Marr and Quincy Jones. He just pretended he was a member of Earth, Wind & Fire and they let him on. I’ve never been so jealous.

I’ve read that you guys want to be a real pop band that makes the genre credible again; what makes good pop music?
I think great pop is integrity, adventurism, the desire to break new ground, not to follow anyone else, and a desire to reach out and connect to people and not be afraid of that. Jay Z and Kanye West are total heroes, and we love the 15 key changes that Beyonce fits into an average song. Back in London bands like Theme Park, Alt-J, Django Django and Kindness are really inspiring to be around.

You’re signed to Kitsuné, which is also a fashion label, and here in Bangkok you’ll play a show as part of a clothing showcase for the nexttoNORMAL store; do you see fashion and music as inextricably linked?
Of course. We would get arrested if we played our gigs without any clothes on, and that would be a disaster for our career. Though I reckon Mike would end up bossing his wing. He'd be like a godfather figure within a month.

Is image or how you look something that the band takes seriously?
We just dress how we always dressed back in London. We didn't want to be a band that just recreated a style from another era so that everyone would be like "Oh they're a mod band, they're a psych rock band, they're a synth pop band" we just wanted to be us but with instruments.

Finally, what can Bangkok expect from a Citizens! live show?
It's a giant blancmange of passion, kissing, dancing, singing, hula hoops and handstands. It's like the album in four dimensions. Hold on, maybe it's five dimensions. It's pretty special. You should come.




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Japanese all-female pop-punk trio Shonen Knife formed way back in 1981 and shot to fame in 1991 when Kurt Cobain asked them to open for Nirvana on their UK tour. Ahead of their show at Sonic Ekkamai (Nov 25), we chat to the band’s singer and sole original member Naoko Yamano about 30 years in the game and life on the road.

What are the best and worst things about being on tour?
There is no worst thing about touring. I like touring a lot because I can meet our fans directly and taste delicious local foods.

How do you prepare for a show before hitting the stage?
We do stretches; I don’t listen to music before shows.

From your experience, are there any differences between audiences in the West and Asia?
There is no difference. Music has no frontiers. It’s a universal thing, but it depends on the city. For example, audiences in our hometown Osaka are more cheerful while in Tokyo people are more polite.

Shonen Knife have been around for over 30 years; where do you see yourself in another 30 years?
If I’m alive, I’d like to keep on rocking as long as I can.

How has your sound changed over that 30 years?
Early Shonen Knife is more primitive. Present Shonen Knife is more powerful, more pop and has a thicker sound.

To mark your 30th anniversary, you released Osaka Ramones comprised solely of covers of The Ramones; what other bands would you like to pay similar tribute to?
Judas Priest, KISS, The Beatles and Buzzcocks.

What’s the music scene like in Osaka right now?
There are many interesting, very underground bands in Osaka but there is no strong sense of scene there. The disposition of Osaka people is too individualistic.

The clothing style for Shonen Knife has always been coordinated very carefully. How do you decide on the outfits?
My younger sister Atsuko, an original member of Shonen Knife, designs our stage costumes. She likes 1960s and 1970s fashion like Pierre Cardin, Mary Quant, Yves Saint Laurent and so on.

A lot of musicians like to show that they’re serious about everything; have you ever considered singing about more political topics?
I sometimes write songs about social problems, like “Economic Crisis” from our album Free Time (2010), but my opinion is that music should be a happy thing and I want people to be happy through our music. Even if I write about slightly serious things, I add some sense of joking. “Economic Crisis” became a fun hard rock song.

What are your expectations for your gig here in Bangkok?
I expect that our audience will get happy with our music. Let’s ROCK! I can’t wait to go to Thailand and see you there!


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Artists in Bangkok have turned their back on traditional theaters and galleries and taken to the streets, bars and warehouses instead. Here’s where to find them.

Bangkok Poetry Night/Bombyx Stories

Bombyx Stories

Who Are They?
Apart from having a gallery on its second floor (and the occasional hanging sculpture in front of the place), WTF Bar & Gallery and Opposite play host to two regular literary events. The Bangkok Poetry Night is open to everyone, but does have a theme that changes each time. It runs every month (or every six weeks) and is hosted by Colin Cheney. Recently, the team also launched Bombyx Stories with a raconteur/storytelling angle for those who just don’t dig poetry. Again, there’s a theme for each evening.
What’s next
The third edition of Bombyx Stories will be under the theme “Small acts of courage” on Nov 24, 8pm, at Opposite. The next Bangkok Poetry Night is Dec 7.
How to join
To apply, email your work to [email protected] or [email protected]. Your piece should come in under eight minutes when read. The deadline for Bombyx was Nov 7 but there’s always next time. There is no deadline for Bangkok Poetry—just shoot them an email. If you just want to attend, it’s free and open to all.
Keep posted at
www.bangkokpoetry.com and www.facebook.com/BombyxStories

18Monkeys Dance Theatre

18Monkeys DanceTheatre

Who Are They?
The 18 Monkeys Dance Theatre is one of Thailand’s leading contemporary dance troupes. It infuses Thai traditional dance (khon) with other physical movements. Choreographed by Jitti Chompee, their past works have contained strong, emotional scenes set against a backdrop of high-brow culture (Jean Genet, Thomas Mann). Not only do they regularly include video projection, but we’ve yet to see them perform in a traditional space. Previous shows were at Bed Supperclub, Warp 54 Studio and in an empty swimming pool at someone’s home.
What’s Next
Taking its inspiration from the battle scene in the Ramayana epic, Muet (Speechless) tells the tragic story of monkey Kasorntamala, a soldier of Phra Ram who is forced to fight his demonic best friend. This performance will be a part of the International Dance Festival 2012, taking place on Dec 1-2, 7-9 at Ptendercool’s warehouse gallery (Charoen Krung Soi 30) and Dec 10-11 at 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai.
How to join
Tickets B1,200 from Thaiticketmajor.com
Keep posted at


Warp 54 Studio

Who Are They?
This local independent physical theater troupe broke into New York’s 2012 Underground Zero Festival last July, but we’ve had our eyes on talented artists Teerawat Mulvilai and Jarunan Phantachat (to name just a couple) for a while. They’ve definitely had a busy year, with intense political plays that touch on sensitive issues like Article 112 (Bang La Merd), Thailand’s deep South (The Other Land) or royal succession (King Lear). This being physical theater, you can expect unusual setups. For example, Bang La Merd took place in a tiny room, with spectators sat on a random assortment of chairs dispersed throughout. Among other things, the performer used video projection, involved the audience and stayed after the show to discuss the ideas in the performance. The last Sunday of every month, the group also has an acting workshop open to the public, which regularly features special guests.
What’s Next
The next workshop will be under the theme “Knowing the Metaphor of Your Life” lectured by Sarinrat Thomas on Nov 25 from 1-5pm (B500). And the next production takes its inspiration from the scientific theory of natural selection. Titled Survival Games, you can catch it Jan 10-21, 2013, at Pridi Bhanomyong Institute, Sukumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor).
How to join
Booking for the workshops and more information about the show tickets at 089-167-4039 or [email protected]
Catch them at
www.facebook.com/Bfloor.theatre.group and www.bfloortheatre.com

Bangkok Theatre Festival

The Return of Wanthong

Who Are They?
This outdoor stage festival hosted by the Bangkok Theatre Network at Santichaiprakarn Park and the small bars along Phra Artit Road features over 50 shows from independent stage groups in Bangkok like B-Floor Theatre, Anatta Theatre, Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Arts and famous acts like the Babymime.
What’s Next
The 10th edition was postponed from Nov 2011 to Feb-Mar 2012 because of the floods. The schedule for the 11th edition has not been announced yet. In the meantime, there is a restaging of Anatta’s contemporary Thai dance performance, The Return of Wanthong, directed by Silpatorn-award winner Pradit Prasartthong on Nov 17-18, 2pm and 7pm at Srinakarinwirot University (B400 from 087-701-0986 or 089-754-1505).
Keep posted at

The Reading Room

Who Are They?
A contemporary art library and activity space run by art aficionado Narawan “Kyo” Pathomvat with a collection of over 1,000 books from all over the world. This cute, tiny space in Silom Soi 19 sees regular talks by guest speakers, special screenings of controversial films from the Film Virus group and open debates, the “Night School” (every third Friday of the month).
What’s next
How to Start a Revolution, a film by Ruaridh Arrow, will be screened on Nov 9 at 7:30pm. Then on Nov 13, 7pm, there’s 50 Years 007, exploring the politics, culture and technology of James Bond, with collage artist and columnist for Bioscope Magazine Sethapong Povatong and editor of Filmax Magazine Alongkorn Klaisrikeaw.
How to join
The events are open to public. For more information and reservations, call 02-635-3674.
Keep Posted at
www.facebook.com/thereadingroombkk and www.readingroombkk.org


Who Are They?
Run by one of the guys behind arty lifestyle mag Bang! and a food writer/photographer who’s also a pretty dab hand in the kitchen, this small café-cum-bar makes for a hip urban refuge in an unlikely residential setting, around five minutes’ walk from BTS Surasak. On top of the laidback vibe, Jam’s name is ringing out in discerning circles thanks to its hosting of a growing list of arts and cultural events.
What’s next
The opening party for Brazilian artist Cecê Nobre’s exhibition Concrete Variables on Nov 10. The exhibition is comprised of aerosol portraits of his close friends—mostly graffiti artists and skateboarders— accompanied by a short film documenting the Bangkok street scene.
How to join
Keep an eye on Jam’s Facebook page (see below) and just rock up. Other regular or semi-regular events include Apple Jam Cinema (last Sunday of every month), a selection of culturally significant films from around the world. Curated by Susanne Walter and co-organized with support from the French Embassy, Goethe Institute, The Japan Foundation and the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia. They’re also talking about bringing back their Jam Garage Sale, a chilled-out market day where anyone can sell their loot, whether it’s clothes, music, bicycles or art. Then there’s the intriguingly titled Bacon ‘n Bass BBQ, which the owners promise will have plenty for vegetarians, too.
Keep Posted at
www.facebook.com/jamcafebkk or drop by 1 Charoen Rat Soi 1. Open Tue-Sun 12pm-11:45pm. BTS Surasak.

Art Online

Siamese Dust

This page gathers archival movie posters, advertisements and other old prints and shares them in all their retro glory.


77PPP, or 77 Provinces Postcard Project, shares and welcome you to share photos and postcards of Thailand in times past. An evocative, and often informative, trip down memory lane.

Freelance Illustrators

This group (not page) is open for any freelance or full-time illustrators, or just illustration fans, to join and post their own work for the discerning eyes of others.

Fuck You Designer

An open space for designers to share and discuss arts projects in order to improve their skills or get fresh ideas and new inspirations.

Interview: Christian Develter


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44, Artist/Warp 54 Studio

Belgian artist Christian Develter has called Bangkok home for over 15 years. Warp 54, the warehouse-cum-studio near the Chao Phraya River that he runs with business partner Peter Smits, has played host to all manner of events not typically associated with traditional art spaces (pop-up restaurants, magazine launches, radical performance art), while his bright and aesthetically bold canvas paintings have found homes in a host of the city’s most chic establishments. Now, Develter’s latest series of works, influenced by the tattoos found on the faces of Burma’s Chin ethnic minority group, feature in a collection from local clothing label Tube Gallery (try 1/F, Siam Paragon, Rama 1 Rd., www.tube-gallery.com. BTS Siam) that has already debuted on Paris runways and will launch at Warp 54 later this month.

How did you come across the tattoos?
I found out about them when I was traveling. They have all these different sorts of patterns. Some have dots, others have stripes; one from one specific region near Mount Victoria [in Chin state, western Burma] is like a spiderweb. The communities live on the side of the mountain. The housing and everything, it’s very primitive. There’s no electricity, there’s no running water. It was about a 10-hour ride by jeep. You need guides as you’re absolutely not free to travel. When we there we met some Myanmar people traveling by themselves and, well, we were the main attraction!

What’s their significance?
Actually, most of the locals don’t even know themselves. It’s animistic. They represent tigers, lizards, things like that. Mostly they incorporate a symbol of the sun. The British and then the current government both tried to ban it, but we saw some young girls who were still doing it. When I visited, I already had some paintings finished. I had them on my iPad, so I showed them. The amazing thing is that every region has different tattoos, so the locals automatically knew from the designs where the subjects came from. I didn’t know how they would react, but generally they were happy and thought it was very interesting.

How did they inspire your paintings?
The portraits are symmetrical—it’s the same picture flipped over. I wanted to present the tattoos in a modern way, not too tribal. I was wary that it would become too ethnic rather than iconic. It’s the combination of urban beauty and tribalism that make it an interesting mix. It’s all about evolution—it’s an interpretation of the tattoo, so I made the lines red instead of blue.

How did the collaboration with Tube Gallery come about?
The two designers from Tube Gallery asked me if they could have a fashion show here [at Warp 54]. Then they saw this collection and thought it was really great, so they decided to base a whole collection on it. They added some personal ideas, like butterflies. I didn’t direct them in any way. I thought they should be free to do what they want. The story, combined with my paintings and the fashion aspect, it’s a very interesting concept.
Warp 54 (Charoen Krung Soi 30) is open by appointment. Contact 081-867-5002, www.warp54.com. www.christiandevelter.com


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Guitar and loop pedal virtuoso Dustin Wong, formerly of Baltimore noise-rock band Ponytail, is treating Bangkok to two nights of the intricate, experimental pop that saw him signed to iconic US indie label Thrill Jockey. BK caught up with him ahead of his shows at Harmonica on Nov 9 and 10.

How did you first start playing music?
I started like any teenager; I got a guitar and just started to fiddle around with it. I didn’t really have any idea so I started with shapes on the fretboard—using squares, rectangles and triangles as templates to explore the instrument. It was only a few years ago that it finally clicked and I got to really understand the geography of the instrument. With looping, I’ve been working with this idea for 11 years now. Being a self-taught guitarist, discovering new musical ideas is always such an exciting feeling; like going to see a movie without watching the trailer.

Is recording an important part of your songwriting process?
It is very important to let me instantly observe what I’m trying to make. I recommend it to anyone writing music. I record each song by itself, then in sets of songs, and then I go back to the drawing board. The songs themselves are important but also how each song leads to the next song, the flow as a whole. I think studying film in college has a lot to do with this; editing is very important to me.

Ponytail broke up around a year ago; do you miss the band dynamic?
I really do love working with people on music; it’s very exciting. Even after the band broke up I’ve played with other people casually, so the collaborative element is still very active in me.

You granted private Skype sessions to fans who pre-ordered your record; how highly do you value intimacy with your audience?
A lot of times I'm in a confined space where I can't project sounds through speakers so I have to use headphones. These offer a very different, more intimate experience; there are times where you almost feel like the music is merging with you. That’s the kind of experience I want listeners to have—a very personal relationship with the sound, a feeling that they are becoming the music they are listening to.

You recently asked your fans to describe their dreams which you would turn into music; where did this idea come from?
I had a dream on New Year’s Eve this year. It felt very profound, the imagery and everything about it. I can't go into it much, but it included: lightning in the color of a rainbow drawing images of animals onto the sky, the horizon lifting up like a page being turned from a book, revealing the map of Japan and a mountain with a Buddhist temple with tiny shimmering mushrooms all around it… After this, I wanted to dive into other people's dreams and, by making a soundtrack to their dreams, let the music be this kind of glaze—like how a glaze can bring out the colors of a painting, have the music bring out the images of the dream.

Can you describe your live set-up?
It’s very simple, I have my series of eight effects pedals and my guitar. I don’t use an amp; I just go directly into the house speakers, so I can utilize the whole venue as one big amp. The performance itself is just a reveal of my creative process, one melody, one layer at a time.

As a Chinese/American born in Hawaii and raised in Japan, does cultural identity play a role in your creative process?
I definitely think so. There is no way of denying it. But in my case it’s a bit different. A Chinese/American growing up in Japan is a bit strange. There was definitely some prejudice around me growing up and even when I was in the US, being an American growing up in Japan, you were considered a little bit different. With my music, as with everything really, I want to integrate everything, be it culture, ideas or beliefs.



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