Music in Southeast Asia

During these months of traveling in Asia I have discovered that there is a big music scene here growing day by day. I have been living in Thailand for 4 months now and I also spent some weeks in Myanmar.

Thai and Burmese traditional music have similarities and are related to many other musical traditions in the region including Chinese music but in this post I want to focus on contemporary music. I will cover traditional music in future posts.

Coming to the Southeast Asia I was curious to see what kind of music people listen to. I have discovered that they are strongly influenced by Western music but they have their own way to make it by adding some traditional Asian elements on the sound. Burmese music has mirrored western pop but thousands of miles away from it. You can hear western artists on the radio, mixed with local music. In Thai Supermarkets mostly western charting music and Thai pop are played. Many Thai singers in the search for the scenic name chose names similar to well known international artists e.g. Christina Aguilera and Christina Aguilar.

In Myanmar the music scene is growing faster now after decades of repression and isolation from the rest of the world. Here music becomes a tool of power and control but it’s used to resist to it too. There are now many punk bands in town. I found an interesting award-winning book and documentary about Burmese punk called Yangon Calling.

yangoncallingimage source: http://www.yangoncalling.com/

It’s a must-have if you want to know more about the underground scene. Music here is usually sold directly on the streets. During my comeback trip from Ngwe Saung beach to the city of Yangon I’ve heard some urban-oriented music. Me N Ma Girls are one of the first and most successful dance-pop act of the country and Bunny Phyoe is the Justin Bieber of Myanmar: Good-looking guy loved by all the teenagers.

IMG_3013

image source: http://www.annasieniawska.com/

Rap music is now very popular in both Thailand and Burma. It emerged in the late 1990s and is now the prevailing style of music among Thai and Burmese youth. ThaiTanium are one of the biggest rap groups in Thailand. The band has released five albums and has performed at the MTV Asia Awards, opening concerts for 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. Turntablism is growing and there are talented Djs such as Dj Butung or Dj Nutty.

Thaitanium

Thaitanium

image source: http://www.channelvthailand.com/

If you want to dance Phuket, Ko Samui and Bangkok are for you. Bangkok is the place to be if you want to party hard, with a wide range of music styles from Funk to Techno. Prominent djs are Dj Nakadia, who is well-known outside the country for her Techno dj sets and Dj Orawan, founder of Bass Clef night in Bangkok, more oriented towards UK Funky, Dubstep and Bass Music in general.

I have been living in the city of Chiang Mai for about 4 months now. There are a lot of  festivals here with Western and Thai bands being part of them. At the Balloon festival last December I saw many groups and I have particularly enjoyed the jazz-funk sound of the Jazz Bacanus. I used to go to the jazz jam sessions of the North Gate, one of the most well-known live music locations here. Tuesday nights are dedicated to anyone who wants to jump in for a jam session. Music lovers should definitely go there when visiting this nice city!

the-north-gate-jazz-club

The North Gate Jazz Co-Op, Chiang Mai

There is however very limited number of clubs here. They are basically a sort of enclosed areas with standing tables where people dance around the tables. Looks like it’s the typical style of club here. So chances to spin music for me are very few. In few days we are moving to the island of Ko Samui which seems to have more of the nightlife I am used to. I will update you on it soon… 

Links:

Music Charts on Myanmar : 

Thailand iTunes top 20 songs

Bass Clef Night Bangkok

Dj Orawan @ Bedd Supperclub in 2012

 Dj Butung (Thailand) Scratch freestyle

The story of Dj Nakadia. From Thailand to the World!

Me N Ma Girls

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