Thailand Nightlife

Take a Journey into the Thriving Underground Electronic Music Scene of Thailand

Lauren Krieger

While it’s a popular destination for tourists from around the world, renowned for its beautiful natural wonders, ancient temples, delicious food and friendly people, what brings us to Thailand this time around is a journey into the underground. Thailand’s underground electronic music scene offers more than the expected, having evolved from what was once an EDM or mainstream heavy environment into a diverse music community with plenty of opportunities for local and touring DJs to play to educated and enthusiastic underground crowds.

Those who have put the work into evolving Thailand’s nightlife are excited to see just how far it has progressed. Kuroten, who has been a part of the South East Asian Underground scene for many years mentions that his “favourite part about the electronic music scene here has to be that it is growing so rapidly.” while Dan Buri who has been hosting events at the renowned venue Glow Nightclub in Bangkok for almost decade, also shares that he loves “that the scene is flourishing now after so many years of dedication and hard work.” Graham Gold, who has been DJing since 1980 keeps it straight forward as he tells us: “Best part – it’s getting bigger!”

The growth of an electronic music scene can sometimes mean that it’s heading in a commercial direction, but for Thailands DJs it means that more people have ventured into the underground, and genres like deep house, progressive, house, techno, tech house and minimal are now being heard across the country. The early closing hours and lower gig fees may be putting a bit of a damper on its expansion, but the welcoming atmosphere and eagerness of the fans for quality music is opening the door for local and touring DJs to play the music that they love to an ever-growing audience.

To showcase this thriving community, FRISKY Loves Thailand invited 5 of the country’s dedicated DJs to share the sound that has been driving their scene. Featuring Graham Gold, Suiss, Aneesh Medina, Dan Buri, and Kuroten, FRISKY will playing the best underground sounds of Thailand to provide listeners with a sense of what this unique country has to offer for music lovers everywhere. Beyond the surface of Thailand’s tropical landscapes and bustling cities is a pulsing underground full of rhythm, passion, fun, and a dance floor that’s waiting for you.

Tune in live to celebrate Songkran, Thai New Year, on April 13th with FRISKY Loves Thailand starting at 8AM EST / 7PM Thailand [convert timezone]. Or listen on-demand anytime after with a Premium Subscription and on our Mobile Apps.

Get ready by learning more from the featured DJs:

Bangkok Sunset
Photo by Joshua Rawson Harris

What was your first introduction into Thailand’s underground electronic music scene?

Kuroten: My first introduction to the scene was with my girlfriend (now my wife) in the very first few weeks I landed in Bangkok. She was and still very much a fan of the local scene here in Bangkok and that meant that she knew of all the best parties and nightlife spots. She took me to a club called Glow (the techno mecca of Thailand) where a famous monthly event was held (Underground Circus). That night really opened my eyes and ears to another world of music, culture and people that find their home here. Apart from that, of course there were the other well known nightlife spots like Bed Supperclub and Bash.

Dan Buri: I got introduced to the scene by 2 Djs from England, twins called Mirror Image, who organised parties at the former Loshu Restaurant & Bar in Bangkok. After a couple of months doing a few events together, they went to Laos to follow their dream of their own Bar in Vangvieng. So me and my former DJ partner Toby White took it from there. More events followed at Glow Nightclub, the one and only underground club in Bangkok at 9 years ago.

Suiss: My first introduction to Thailand’s underground electronic music scene was at Eden Garden in Koh Phangan.

Graham Gold: It was 12 years ago when I came to Thailand for the first time. I had played KL, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam but never Thailand. I was booked for a trance club in BKK and a classics event in Pattaya. The underground scene was very small, and although I had 50% made the transition back to house, I made my big-name playing trance and still had a passion for it.

Aneesh Medina: My first introduction would be at Kolour! Back then they did these amazing parties by the river and have now become such a huge brand, it’s lovely to see. Coran and Mark have done a great job. And a small shout out to Glow. Beautiful venue and I think the dj was dubfire if my memory serves me well, was another ‘first’ introduction. Also a special thanks to the resident dj, Wintix, for giving me a booking on an off night. 🙂

How does it differ from when you began?

Kuroten: When I began djing and producing back in South Africa, the focus was very much on Electro, Big Room, Tech House and Deep House from the west of Europe. When I got to Bangkok, I was exposed to more underground techno, deep house etc from other cities like Berlin, Paris, Moscow and others all over the world. The difference was really stark and I’m glad that I made the move because this city and its people have really shaped me into who I am today.

Dan Buri: The scene has grown massively thanks to the dedication and persistence from promoters and artists who gave their best to grow the scene within Bangkok and spread it throughout Thailand. We went from a 70 people club environment, to big festivals now such as Kolour In The Park. New clubs have emerged and now we have a flourishing and diverse underground scene. Clubs like Glow, Mustache, Beam, Sing Sing and a few more have found their sweet spot in the city of angels.

Suiss: Well it has not changed so much as I have only been here for 2 years however it does seem that people are enjoying now more than last year a stronger sound with a harder bass line.

Graham Gold: Well I live on Koh Phangan, which is often called S.E. Asia’s Ibiza but without Pacha, Amnesia, Hi! Privilege, DC10 etc etc. Other similarities to Ibiza include we are one of 3 islands in the Gulf, Ibiza is one of 3 islands in the Balearics (if you exclude the tiny island of Formentera). Phangan like Ibiza are the middle islands if you refer to the size and we were both discovered by hippies! Here on Phangan, the only parties were Full Moon, Half Moon, Black Moon, Shiva Moon, Jungle Experience, Backyard, Baansabai, Guys bar and Eden Garden. Then Full Moon party was mainly commercial pop and psy trance, now it’s mostly EDM but Moon House plays tech house and there is one psy trance stage and also one drum and bass stage. But for the masses it’s EDM! All the other parties I mentioned were psy trance, except for Backyard, Guys and Eden, which were the only places to go to hear underground house.

Now in 2019 there is an underground house party almost every night of the week on the island! The new venues are Samsara, Addict, UP2U, Hollystone, Lost Paradise, Loi Lay and Maya, with day parties at Peace & Love, Infinity, Seaboard and 360. Lost Paradise brought some good names for their 3 day festival in the first week of February. Thailand is evolving!

Aneesh Medina:The crowd. People now have much more knowledge about this side of the scene as compared to when I just got to Bangkok. Back then, most people were riding the ‘EDM bubble’ and most of the non mainstream venues weren’t as packed as they are today. It’s truly amazing to see how fast the scene has changed with people exploring various genres!

Suiss
Suiss

Do you have a favorite venue or event to play at? 

Kuroten: This is an easy one for me. It has to be Mustache Bar in Ratchada, Bangkok. The crowd there are so eager for and aren’t afraid of new and challenging music. At the same time, they are discerning enough to keep you on your toes, making sure that you don’t become a lazy dj. When the party is good and you’re on point, they go absolutely wild, which I love. I’ve had so many amazing nights with so many amazing artists there. It’s definitely my favourite!

Dan Buri: I am currently running 2 events in Bangkok at Glow and Mustache. Two quite different venues, with Glow having a massive FUNKTION ONE sound system and being the oldest underground club in Bangkok and on the other hand Mustache with a Berlin vibe decor and people spreading their energy ion the room! l love both venues and i am super happy that they believe in my taste and love for the music.

Suiss: My favourite venues to play at are Peace & Love and Halfmoon Festival.

Graham Gold: I have a few. Samsara as it’s a purpose-built beach club on its own private beach and it’s awesome. They book uber cool DJ’s and even had Nick Warren recently. Loi Lay is our Sunday night party and it’s on a boat-well more like a covered floating platform which is really cool, Maya as it’s a smallish party in the jungle and Guys Bar which has always been an island favourite for the real clubbers for 11 years. A bit of a mission to get to as you go by a longtail boat from Haadrin and it needs 8 people minimum. And the Sunday day party, Peace & Love-awesome!

Aneesh Medina:I’d have to say Mustache Bangkok. The vibe is just so special.

Thailand City View
Photo by Jakob Owens

Is there a particular genre or sound that is currently most popular among crowds? 

Kuroten: The scene here has varying crowds these days. This is because the entire nightlife culture has grown so much in terms of more djs arriving here and showing the crowds more and more different music. This has created pockets of genre followers, which is absolutely amazing to witness. These pockets include those who like hard and fast techno, those who prefer minimal and breaks, those who follow progressive, deep house, tech house and afro as well as those who enjoy an eclectic mix of ambient experimental live music etc. It’s tough to say which is more popular these days, but you can definitely say that in the 6 years that I’ve been here, clubs have developed more of an identity and defined themselves according to genres.

Dan Buri: Bangkok has a very diverse scene, so I don’t think I could pinpoint a specific genre. We are definitely not as developed as Europe but here people love House, Techno and Minimal.

Suiss: It’s hard to say cause when I play a set for example I’m doing everything from Prog House / Techno to sometimes even Trance at a slower BPM. So I guess if I had to break it down to 1 it would be Progressive Melodic Techno.

Graham Gold: For sure and it’s the big umbrella called UNDERGROUND HOUSE! In my opinion, deep house, progressive house, tech house and techno rule the scene but that does not mean you can’t get a bit funky or tribally!

Aneesh Medina: Definitely tech house! Guys like Juany Bravo, Atma and Adiero+Nukier are absolute beasts when it comes to this genre. Guys like hexer and the outsider are pushing the harder techno sounds and then there’s people like Sanju hargun, Elaheh, Dan Buri, Kuroten, DOTT and so on who push boundaries with their sounds and people do love that too! I’d love to see an even playing field soon. 😉

What is your favorite part about the electronic music scene in Thailand? What is your least favorite? 

Kuroten: My favourite part about the electronic music scene here has to be that it is growing so rapidly. There are so many more producers and djs now than when I first started in Bangkok. This gives the artists more chances to work together and push new ideas forward. My least favourite part has to be the closing hours etc, which are unnecessary in my opinion. That said, there are those who don’t give up in terms of finding ways around this kinds of issues.

Dan Buri: I love the that the scene is flourishing now after so many years of dedication and hard work. We still see problems with the law and the closing times, because everything has to shut by 2am! I hope that it will change in the future so that we have a better chance to become a bigger market and grow with time.

Suiss: My favorite part about the electronic music scene in Thailand is the way the people that come here interact with the Djs. Usually when you go to a city you have many people that show up that have lived there all their lives. Because of that they are not in the same mentality as people who come to Thailand for a vacation or for half the year. The people that come here have a clear mind always smiling are very happy. They give a great energy and make for one of the most amazing dance floors you will ever have. Filled with love. <3

My least favorite thing probably has got to be that not every place has great equipment or sound systems and also the pay is not the same like Europe or North America.

Graham Gold: Best part – it’s getting bigger! Least part – it’s getting stricter like the West!

Aneesh Medina: My favourite would be the sheer choice of music on any giving night out here in Thailand. You can always expect quality.My least favourite would be seeing a bigger number of people only coming to see an international act when right at home they have some amazing talent who definitely would blow their minds.

Thailand Architecture

Do you think there are challenges to playing in Thailand that are unique to the country?

Kuroten: Not really, no. I honestly feel like it’s mostly the same as other places, although, I would say people are a lot friendlier and open to giving people opportunities here. 😉

Dan Buri: No I don’t necessarily think so, u got to give your best like in every other show in the world!

Suiss: The only real challenge here is the climate and what it does to the equipment. 

Graham Gold: For me, well back in the UK you drove to most gigs, here if I wanna play off the island it’s a boat and a flight! Dj fees are ridiculously low, and although it’s meant to be relative to the cost of living, it isn’t really, especially as I am 100% legal and that costs money!

Aneesh Medina: This one is easy. Being an Indian in this scene wasn’t easy. It took me around 3 years to really get in and get somewhat noticed due to my residency in an after hours venue called ‘base bar’. Another challenge would be the vast amount of talent this country has. Everyone deserves a chance but it’s quite difficult to break through no matter how good you are.
And lastly, the only challenge is the venue timings due to ‘rules’ in Bangkok. I miss the old early morning scene. 😉 (I’ll leave it at that).

What should touring DJs coming into Thailand know about the scene?

Photo by iconO

Kuroten: Touring djs should take into consideration that fees are lower than the standard. This is because there isn’t much money in the underground scene here. We are working on it and it is getting better, but for now that’s the only major issue I think. Other than that, this is an amazing place to play and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone thinking of doing it.

Dan Buri: Have patience with the crowd, see what energy they are looking for and then go for it! Smile a lot and be humble! Thai people love that. 🙂 Other than that, touring djs should remind themselves that we are a very young scene, and that there could be shows with small attendance. But even if the show was not good, Thailand has a lot of other things to offer to make your trip worthwhile. 😉

Suiss: Get ready for some of the best moments of your career. The amount of love you receive from the crowd here is incredible. Ego free love from so many amazing beautiful souls. 

Graham Gold: We HAVE A SCENE! Just make sure the venue that books you understands exactly your sound, as there are some commercial clubs that may want to book you because of your name, but that does mean you are right for that club. Just go back to my second answer and get your agent to hit up those clubs! And be prepared to be busted by immigration if you do not have a work visa! It happens, not that often but it does happen!

Aneesh Medina: Short and simple… It’s thriving. People here are open to various sounds. And Thai people are amazing hosts and the country has so much to offer, its unbelievable.

How would you describe Thailand’s electronic music community in three words?

Kuroten: Diverse, unique, amazing.

Dan Buri: Tropical, young, energetic.

Suiss: PEACE AND LOVE

Graham Gold: Thriving, vibrant, exciting.

Aneesh Medina:Friendly, humble and knowledgeable.

What can you share with us about your mix for FRISKY Loves Thailand? 

Kuroten: This mix is an important one for me because it signifies a change in style that I’ve been working on for quite some time now. I’ve played a few gigs where I’ve showcased some of my new collection, but this is the one that says goodbye to the old and hello to the new musical path that I’ve chosen. I hope you all enjoy it. 🙂

Dan Buri: This mix reflects my current music style, groovy, tropical but still deep and melodic. I love to mix both worlds and present both of my worlds as well, my lighthearted Thai side and my energetic German side. I hope you like my selection and are able to grab that vibe!

Suiss: My Frisky Loves Thailand mix was inspired greatly by my experiences on the magic island of Koh Phangan. Made with all my love and energy to make you happy.

Graham Gold: Well it’s a bit of a journey that reflects how I play, it’s packed with music, some of which I hope you have not heard before, and it’s I would like to say, the underground sound of what we do here!

Aneesh Medina: Dark & Fun! I hope the listeners enjoy the journey. Thank you for having me. Sawadee khap!

Join FRISKY Loves Thailand on April 13th starting at 8AM EST / 7PM Thailand [convert timezone] or listen on-demand anytime after with a Premium Subscription and on our Mobile Apps.

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