Guest Mix: Maft Sai

DJ Maft Sai is a musician, record collector and DJ, but one who has made a great contribution to the culture of his motherland. Hardly anyone else has helped to make the music of Thailand so popular our part of the world. We introduce him to you.

When he came back to Bangkok, he knew nothing about Thai folk music. So says DJ Maft Sai himself, who previously spent parts of his life in Australia and the UK. Nevertheless, he soon led the rather uncool genres of Luk Thung and Mo Lam into a sound that an international audience suddenly took notice of. (And shortly thereafter also enthused the Thais themselves.) Previously, these sounds were considered folk music for taxi drivers.

So, by the time Maft Sai came to Bangkok, he was first interested in the second-hand record shops there. Sometimes he went six days a week in search of sounds that were unknown to him. He listened to many albums just for the cover artwork. Between the traditional sounds, he found many unusual approaches, influences from Afro-funk or disco. All material for his sets. And the more records he collected, the more aware he became of how diverse these genres were.

Searching for the Unusual

Six years ago, he told the Thai daily Khaosod: »At that time, second-hand records were ridiculously cheap. So, I bought as much as I could and started organising and cataloguing the releases.« By then, DJ Maft Sai aka Nattapon Siangsukon was already considered an important bridge to the traditional Thai sound in a new guise. »While collecting the old records, I noticed that one out of ten records sounded completely different from Luk Thung’s usual sound. Most of the time it was about finding the most unusual tracks.« Which was not easy unusual at that time already meant that the commercial success was manageable and the distribution corresponding.

Together with Chris Menist, Maft Sai founded the label ZudRangMa Records in 2008, and four years later the project The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band. Their first record »21st Century Molam« even received a verbal nod of appreciation from Mick Jagger. And since then? Maft Sai continues to be one of the musical bridge builders from the past to the modern and vice versa.

Maft Sai proves in our exclusive mix how diverse, different and impressive he can be with these sounds.