BK: Tell us about your background.
Keng: I was born in Songkhla. My mom graduated in classical guitar and taught me to play, but I don’t like it. I guess because I’d known it my whole life. The teachers of traditional Thai music paid me more attention, so I ended up studying that. My main instrument is the Thai flute.
BK: And you continued during your university years?
Keng: Yes, I was on the waiting list of Chulalongkorn University, but had been accepted at Mahidol in Thai classical music. My mom suggested I try Mahidol.
BK: But other students were focusing on modern music?
Keng: Yes, but I’ve liked classical music since I was a kid. I figured that if I had these skills, it would make my overall profile more interesting.
BK: Have you ever participated in any competitions before?
Keng: I am addicted to them and took part in any I could enter, including the really high-stakes ones, like The Star and Academy Fantasia, even teen-craze ones like Zeeza. But I never managed to make any big breakthrough.
BK: Tell us about the Coke Music Awards?
Keng: I almost wasn’t allowed to compete because my band, Oom-Pu, had already won a music competition before, and the Coke Music Awards are for total newcomers. I begged the organizers and explained I had won as a band, not as a singer. Oom-Pu had also cleared the first round, but were then banned because of the previous award.
BK: What do you think made the difference this time?
Keng: After participating in many competitions, I realized that I was always trying too hard to be something else that’s not really me. So this time I just expressed myself and I made it.
BK: How do you feel after finally being a winner?
Keng: Before I won, I thought I would stop competing because this one gave me so many new experiences, both in terms of the audience and the useful workshops. When I won, there was a slow-mo picture flashback in my head of all the times I lost, and it made me realize how precious this triumph was. Even though defeat creates tears, it also makes us stronger.
BK: What do you plan to do next?
Keng: All the winners will go to Japan and the US to do more music workshops and the big surprise was that we all get to be in the Coca Cola project, 24 Hours with Maroon 5 in London, where we might get to do a music project with them. After that I will do an album with Smallroom, but I don’t want my debut album to be as a solo act. I might talk to the label and say that I want to do it with my friends in Oom-Pu.