You’ve seen him on Channel V, or maybe on Youtube. But how much do you really know about Foet of top Thai rock band Slot Machine? He opens up about his art and the band’s rise with Bangkok 101.
What does your latest award mean to Slot Machine and to you personally?
We just won the “Visual and Popular Culture Award” from the Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore, which recognizes all kinds of artists: painters, sculptors, photographers, architects. It’s a big honour for us to get this, since our work is not only about producing music. It’s our life. From how we think and how we work, the art and culture of modern Thailand, the image of the band, the CD covers, as well as music videos and live shows—they are all forms of conceptual, contemporary art. We share Thainess with the international scene from the perspective of locals. For example, our song “Chan Chao (Goodbye);” the lyrics were inspired by a Thai lullaby. We want the world to know more about Thailand besides tuk tuks, temples, Muay Thai, and pad thai. This is what we’ve been doing for 12 years.
Where do you find inspiration for your music? Is writing a spontaneous process for you?
It comes from my head. I like to think about nature, the universe, human life, society. I don’t anything for granted; I focus on every single detail that comes to mind. I like to use words no one uses in lyrics, but that’s very challenging. But above all, there has to be a kind of charm in the wordplay and rhyming.
What have been the biggest challenges working only in English for your next release? And what do you hope to achieve with this album?
We’re starting everything from the scratch. That’s the biggest challenge. Thai people know Slot Machine, but we have to gain a name internationally. We’re not only doing this for ourselves, but for the whole music industry and the next generation of musicians. We’ve never had any true expectations, but even so every new achievement seems to exceed our wildest imagination.
First Jay Montonn and now Steve Lillywhite, what’s it been like working with big-time producers?
Working with world-class producers, you have to stay active all the time. It wasn’t necessarily hard working with them. No matter how difficult the process is, as long as you can adapt yourself to the professional world, your work will turn out great. It’s not about the producers, but rather the artists.
How can Thai music reach more audiences worldwide? And, in your opinion, what style of Thai music can gain widespread popularity?
You can do whatever you want, but the world needs the real thing, because what’s authentic and good is always universal and ever-lasting. It’s like how the world recognizes tom yam kung. It’s the unique flavour of Thailand. The texture, the smell, the sound—it’s all relevant. Thai things are real, but we have to make them bolder, like what the South Koreans did. Everyone was involved there—government, artists, media, fan clubs. Everybody here has to work together, too.
What goes through your mind when you’re playing in front of 30,000+ people?
What I’m thinking isn’t as important as concentrating on the music. It’s like a battlefield, because it’s real. You can’t make a mistake. You can’t fix anything it at a live show. But when you’re keen to do something, from the first second to the last, the number of people [in the crowd] doesn’t matter.
When you were young, did you know deep-down that you would become a musician?
Never. When I was young, I had so many questions. Like, why were we born? For what purpose? I wanted to change the world into my own utopia. Now I know that’s impossible. We can only change ourselves—the way we think, the way we live. So I use my music to share my dream world with other people. I believe my music can reach anyone, no matter their race or ethnicity or nationality.
When you’re on tour, what’s the one thing you miss most from home?
Peace and quiet.
What are your favourite venues to play at in Bangkok?
No place in particular. Everywhere is a new beginning.