Having recently released the third single of his sophomore album, Pleng Tee Nan Laew Mai Dai Fang, singer-songwriter Aphiwat “Stamp” Uethawornsuk, 28, talks to us about his dark side, his critics, the follies of a military-style education and the charms of Bangkok.

I was a pampered homebody as a kid, bullied at school and scared of the outside world.

I got into music tapes in sixth grade. My friend gave me songs from Gun & Roses and Aerosmith. After that, I watched every one of their music videos and started to play guitar in a band with friends.

I may have started playing music because I wanted to be accepted by friends, be in the spotlight, be the center of the universe.

I continued playing with my friends throughout university and even wrote my own songs. We sent lots of demo tapes to record companies but nothing concrete happened until I met Boyd Kosiyabong.

I didn’t want to be office worker while I was waiting for an album with my band, 7th SCENE. So I started writing for other artists like Boyd and Nop Ponchamni until I had my own album, The Million Ways to Write Part I.

If people accepted who they were without any fear, even if they want to be musicians, then we’d have a lot more musicians.

The Thai music industry has a problem with lyrics. I’ve been listening to music for 25 years and they haven’t changed one bit. Singing is meant to express your own thoughts and feelings. I don’t know who forces them to use the same words all the time.

Sometimes success can be a bad thing. A bad time in my life was when I won 20 awards in just three months. All the compliments made me afraid to write new songs. I worried they wouldn’t be as good as the first ones, that people would say I was a fluke.

Boyd snapped me out of it. He threw a book in the air. He said, “See? Everything has ups and downs.” I realized I didn’t have to be cool all the time.

I am actually a bad-tempered person, even though I write romantic songs. I am pessimistic about the world but optimistic about people. I always think about the worst case scenario.

Humans aren’t designed to be monogamous. Cheating is just a fantasy experience for men but, in fact, I think they still love their wives. When they do run off, it’s for true love, like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who were really soulmates.

My parents divorced when I was 18. It was so tiring to stay in that psychological warfare. I didn’t want to be in the crossfire anymore, so I was pretty relieved when it was all over, and I stayed with my mom.

I don’t want to pay taxes after seeing how politicians behave, seeing their corruption and our spending money on nonsense.

People who don’t depend on the government have a good life. But for those who do, if the government is bad, their lives are miserable as well. That’s why we have the protests.

I think what everyone wants most is happiness. But some believe that money can create that happiness, which isn’t true.

If I were Bangkok Governor, I would make sure every road in the city was in excellent condition with the sign “Do not dig” so we wouldn’t have to dig them up again. I would prostrate myself at the feet of a governor capable of that.

I like the time warps in Bangkok. I like that we can have high rises as well as colorful ribbons on the spirit trees.

We are growing without aim because of visionless leaders and the excessive politeness of Thai people. We don’t know what we want to be, so we try to be everything.

I think this is because of our military-style education system. We have to salute the teacher who is always right. We also have to deal with the seniority system in universities and workplaces where seniors get promoted, like ranks in the military.

If we want to be like North Korea, that’s fine. But if we want to modernize our country, this system is not going to work.

Bangkok might be the messiest city in the world, but it’s our nature and our charm. I would rather stay here than in Tokyo where people walk about like robots.

I feel so lucky that I am still able to play music at this age. Music still motivates my life. Doing what you love is the best thing in the world.


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