I’ve been considering what content I can put here as some of my personal thoughts and feelings about this particular place I am now living (and enjoying) could cause me trouble. It’s funny how Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles but often times it feels like the Land of Fake Smiles. Having a couple of years experience here now, I understand these reasons but cannot fully support a positive attitude towards it. This is the balance I am trying to find in my world.
Perhaps that balance has always been there even in the other places I have lived but I haven’t noticed it so much and often times found myself in difficult or at least odd situations. I don’t ‘play the game’ very well still but I’m getting there. If this sounds like generalised waffle, I apologise. I will try to make an orderly composition of my thoughts at some point.
Out of one of the most difficult times I’ve had in Thailand I found myself keen to focus some energy into something personally (and somewhat selfishly) fulfilling. In what little downtime I had when I was pushing myself too hard preparing lessons for my grade 5 English class I would throw my iTunes playlist on shuffle and found myself quite enthralled at the collection of digital music I collected.
The randomness reminded me of those late school nights furtively listening to John Peel’s radio show under the covers, falling asleep as I lay hoping to hear the latest and greatest punk tunes in amongst all the other genres being pioneered. This exposure to many different styles of music laid the groundwork for events many years in the future when I was organising shows for bands in Sydney and subconsciously decided on mix billed being the best way for people to hear new music. Never a way to a successful financial business model, it kept my brain satisfied and able to calmly appreciate music I didn’t particularly enjoy, anticipating music that I would.
So it was that iTunes on shuffle kept popping up a classic tune (classic to me), a dodgy old punk demo, an experimental noise soundscape and a 60s garage rocker, with many things in between. Nothing really modern mainstream though. It’s amazing some of the music from my youth was considered mainstream back then. It shits all over what is mainstream now.
Anyway, digging this vibe I even ended up downloading a bunch of reggae and African music that Peel always used to play – just to try and get that reminiscence in full force. Things I may not listen to as a full recording of suddenly make a lot of sense squished in between things I was more familiar with. I ended up down many paths of discovery of experimental music from around the world – as opposed to ‘world music.’
With need of some distraction, I decided to put together a ‘radio’ show and upload the result to the Mixcloud platform. I mostly take the tracks as the were shuffled through iTunes and do a bit of back announcing. I also decided to play around a little with some of the songs and introduce some moments where I could read a paragraph or two from books from my shelves.
To give this odd mix a little focus I decided to target my audience to the university students at the local uni which is less than a kilometre away from where I am. I roped in a few of my student friends from there and also from my favourite local coffee shop, to do a bit of speaking and to have their pictures taken. So was born The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour and the push for musical world domination.
Understanding that my tastes are almost niche beyond niche I would not expect a huge audience for what I’m doing but really that is not the purpose. I do it for myself. I really enjoy putting it together and messing around with things, trying to come up with some new ideas for presentation. I’m contemplating how to do this mix in a live setting and finding a place to do it but I don’t have much time to practice that part as well as not having a completely reliable equipment setup. A new laptop is a little of reach at the moment.
So, if you’ve read this far you may be curious to hear what these shows sound like? Or scared to find out. Either way, it seems like this is a good vehicle to post links to each show and also force me to write at least once a week as new episodes appear.
“Remember life on earth is but a flash of dawn
And we’re all part of it as the day rolls on”