Our vinyl culture film series explores digging scenes around the world. Last time, we found ourselves on the paradisal island of Hawaii. Now we’re heading east to the bewitching, bustling city of Bangkok.
Chris Menist and Maft Sai, the guys behind labels Paradise Bangkok and Zud Rangma, show us around Bangkok and help us navigate the city’s vinyl walls.
For those on the hunt for strange, obscure and funky Thai vinyl, be it raw countryside molam, underground and experimental luk thung, or heavy, spiritual lae, Bangkok is the place to be. Having said that Bangkok is not necessarily the easiest place to dig. Unless you’re fluent in reading the language, a sea of labels and sleeves packed with inaccessible information awaits you. Listening is the only gauge, and most stores have no working record players. Even the available western music seems to be dominated by random Barbra Streisand LPs or poorly pressed Thai bootlegs. A portable turntable is highly recommended!
Chris moved to Thailand in 2008 and was blown away by the sounds of luk thung and molam he heard sifting through piles of vinyl in the old music district, Saphan Lek in China Town. Teaming up with DJ Maft Sai, the pair soon began the Paradise Bangkok nights, dropping vintage local sounds in between jazz, reggae and African music. Through their reissue label by the same name and their compilations for Finders Keepers and Soundway, the pair have continued to bring unforgotten gems to a wider audience.
The process of looking for music and digging for old vinyl became intrinsic to understanding the different cultures and contexts that had given birth to these different styles. As well as providing a snapshot of some of the places to look for vinyl should you find yourself east in the near future, the film also connects old records that formed the backbone of the compilations and reissues to new sounds now emerging from Thailand.
For more info about Paradise Bangkok and to listen to their superb mixes, head here.