DJ Aopsher pilots the party airwaves in BKK
Why do we need a DJ these days? I mean, isn’t it just putting together a set list and letting technology do the rest? Monchai Srijongjai, better known as Aopsher looks down and shakes his head in despair. Then he looks up, flashes a grin, and says, “Try that!”
As a matter of fact, sadly I have. On a foolish night at the FooJohn Building a friend and I stepped up to the booth and plugged in our playlist. It was catastrophic. I’d forgotten that I had a mix of YouTube videos complete with annoying ads and significant time lags between songs. It works in a car but certainly doesn’t work a room. There were grumbles and groans, and in the end, only those who’ve vowed to love us in sickness and health, could claim (silently) that we’d been good.
So that’s a stupid question. As Aopsher knows. He too began with a passion for music but spent hours in the trenches, I mean behind the booth, just watching his buddy DJ Kenny spin, intending to learn enough to entertain friends. But the jockeying bug bit hard. Kenny started sending gigs his way and four years later, Aopsher is one of Bangkok’s most sought-after DJs, playing regularly at some of the best night spots like Beam, Sing Sing Theater, and Vogue Lounge.
Tall, lean, with an affable personality and an easy smile, he realized early on that being a good DJ requires an arsenal of skills beyond the music and the technicals.
“First and foremost besides loving what you do, you’ve got to recognize your role as an entertainer,” he says. “Your job is to feel the crowd’s energy and always work to expand it. To me, it isn’t enough to play the music I like; even if it’s the greatest compilation. If no one else at the party is enjoying it, it doesn’t work. You’ve to be comfortable with different genres, venues, and equipment.”
So do you like people coming up with requests when you play? He pauses before answering, “Depends. If someone has a specific song, then sure. But sometimes, someone will simply ask for fun music. The rest of the club is jammin’ and I appreciate that they’ve a specific mood in mind they can’t articulate but I can’t get in their heads. So always I ask for a song from which I can quickly work out what they’re looking for.”
The club scene in Bangkok is nightly getting more sophisticated with the advent of internationally recognized visiting DJs who have a faithful local following. More Thais, especially of the younger generation, are inclined to consider a career in DJ’ing as an opportunity for travel, fun, and fame. This has led to a growing cadre of talented Thai DJs and an exciting local underground scene. In turn, Aopsher has created Dreamrection, a DJ school and agency to help others become fully realized in the field.
In addition, this dashing DJ is involved with numerous other projects, and as he lists them, my jaw drops. Each is a standalone hit in its own right: Sugar Ray, one of the capital’s first and best speakeasies; the hidden gem Q&A Bar; and Thaipioka, the city’s latest hipster watering hole. He’s also part of the team behind the concept flea market Made By Legacy, and is working to build out his latest venture Olympic Digger, a collective dedicated to all things vinyl.
“Digger,” he explains, “refers to the act of spending hours in a record store digging through collections. I wanted to put something together that brings that community together—the record owners, the collectors, and fans—to connect, talk, and trade. We also pay tribute to the origins of DJ’ing with strictly vinyl sets at our events.”
While he doesn’t have a set schedule for January, you can catch him play at Park Hyatt, Bar Savoy, or Beam. He’s also putting in more than an appearance at the newly opened venue The Firm, on Sukhumvit Soi 33. Just remember to request a song, not a feeling!
By Rianka Mohan