The history of Thai Indie Music 1994-2004
With a slew of 90s bands reforming, we take a look back at Bangkok’s indie golden age from 1994-2004 and how it is still shaping today’s music scene.
Proud. Four-piece rock band influenced by the likes of The Cure, U2 and The Police.
Crub. Britpop-inspired act featuring one of the founders of Smallroom Records, Rungroj Uptampotiwat, and DJ Suharit Siamwala. Influenced by UK acts like The Smiths, Pink Floyd and The Stone Roses.
Bakery Music, regarded by some as Thailand’s first indie record label, launches with their debut release, alt-rock act Moderndog’s self-titled album. The company eventually abandoned its indie roots for more mainstream success, but it did inspire the creation of more indie labels like Dojo City with bands such as Triump Kingdom and Project H.
Following the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the Seattle sound finally takes a foothold in Bangkok as Bakery Music unveils “queen of grunge” Ornaree Chularatana and her debut album Natural High.
Joey Boy releases his first self-titled album which introduces hip hop culture to Bangkok. The album has since sold over a million copies nationwide.
Bakery Music founder Zomkiat AriyaChaipani breathes a little electronic pop into the scene with his album Zequence. It includes the hit “Tang Ork,” which also marks the debut of another rising soul and funk artist, Yokee Playboy.
No one can match the success of rock n’ roll act Loso whose debut album Losociety is littered with hits like “I Wanna Love You.” Frontman Sek later became the first Thai artist invited to perform at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival in 2005.
Alt-metal band Sillyfools, comprising Toe (vocals), Ton (guitar), Toey (drums) and Rang (bass), build on the success of their first EP, released on Bakery Music in 1995, joining Grammy to launch their first full-length album, I.Q. After this album, Toey quits the band to be replaced by Tor, and later founds Siam Pai Rock Records.
With The Verve’s Urban Hymns dominating the UK charts in the early part of the year, Siam Secret Service roll out “Kae Nun,” a Britpop-inspired indie anthem that proves extremely popular with local listeners. The band started off as Arai Jah led by Tul Waitoonkiat. When he leaves to study abroad, the rest of the band enlist a new vocalist, Krish, and change their name. Tul returns three years later and they release a solitary album, The Downtown Symphony, under their old moniker.
End of an Era. GT Magazine (Generation Terrorist), run by DJ Seed Norasate Mudkong, was the only local magazine to cover alternative music from around the world from 1994-1999.
American hip hop-inspired Thaitanium release their debut album AA along with the AA Crew, a special collaboration with Joey Boy.
Fat Radio launches, becoming the only music station to play and support Bangkok’s indie music scene.
Around the same time, groundbreaking indie website coolvoice.com arrives on the scene. Among other initiatives, it’s responsible for the Limousine series of compilation albums, first launched in 2002 by founder Amonpong Tavillarp. The records spark Bangkokians’ growing interest in electronic pop by the likes of Funky Wah Wah, Kinappers, Casinotone and The Peach Band.
A Day Magazine emerges, stepping into the considerable void left by GT Magazine.
Smallroom Records is founded by members of Crub and Proud. Their first release, the Smallroom 001 compilation, introduces cutting-edge indie acts like Stylish Nonsense, Moor and Greasy Café. Pop-rockers 4-Tao-Ter become the first artist to release a full-length album, The Love Boat, on the label, followed by Death of a Salesman.
Pop group Armchair release their first album, Pastel Mood, with a more bossanova-tinged sound than what they later become known for.
Former frontman of Crub, Ooh Wasit Mookdavijit, joins with his friends to form Day Tripper.
American country-inspired Sib-Lor, led by Hugo Chulachak Chakrabongse, make a splash with their debut self-titled album.
Music Bug, under the umbrella of GMM Grammy, give birth to alt-rock heavyweights Bodyslam. The band are later recognized as Most Popular Thai Band at the MTV Asia Awards in 2006 and Best Rock Band at the following year’s Season Awards.
Smooth rockers Flure join the Bakery Music roster, arriving on the scene with their first hit, “Rueng Deaw.”
Two members of Araijah, Tul and Pump, form a new band, Apartmentkhunpa, which blends blues, funk and hard rock on their debut album, Bangkok Love Story.
The 2003 edition of A Day Magazine’s series of compilation albums, where all songs are called “A Day,” first launched in 2001, features artists like Bodyslam, Buahima and Monotone Group. The free compilation will only last four volumes in all, finishing in 2005.
Scrubb feature on A Day Album One (another compilation from the magazine that is on sale, not attached free) with their single “Rong Lean,” which they follow up by releasing their debut album …SSS… 2004
While the indie music scene is ruled by pop outfits like Friday I’m In Love and Two Day Ago Kids from 2004-2005, this year sees the return of a more alternative sound, exemplified by Smallroom Records’ naughty four-piece Slur.