Perhaps it’s the street food, or maybe it’s the vibrant lights and a 24-hour mentality that makes Bangkok such a hypnotic place. The attractions – like the floating market, Chatuchak market and Buddhist temples – are laced in fascinating culture and the cooking is amongst the best in the world. Hungry for pad Thai at 4am? Fear not.
For many Brits, it has become known as a “rite of passage” party paradise, but taking a step back from the heady hubbub of Bangkok’s flashing lights and anxiety-inducing crowds will introduce you to a whole host of quality nights out and lesser-known food spots – just take it from resident Thai DJ and producer, Maft Sai.
Having returned to Bangkok after a seven-year stint in London, he’s been doing the rounds providing club-goers with easy-listening, retro mixes, fusing vintage “1970s Thai-Southeast Asian sounds alongside music from Africa, the Caribbean, Middle-East, and beyond.”
Alongside this, Sai is the man behind go-to Bangkok record store Zudrangma Records, which Vinyl Factory spotlighted in their series of the world’s best record stores. It’s most known for championing local music featuring psychedelic Thai sounds, alongside garage, funk and an almighty range of world music from Africa, India, the Caribbean, Latin America and plenty more.
Ever since he threw his first Paradise Bangkok party in 2009, Sai and his record shop endeavours have provided locals with a reputable music source. So if you find yourself in the area, take a visit and get immersed in the ever-growing selection Sai and his shop has to offer. Then treat yourself to a Thai green curry, naturally.
How did you first develop a passion for DJing/raving/music?
When I started collecting records aged 14. Then, in 2001, I played my first DJ set in London while living there between 2001 – 2007. When I returned to Bangkok in 2007, I started the record label Zudrangma Records, releasing a collection of vintage Thai music from the ’70s. In 2009, I started a party in Bangkok (Paradise Bangkok) with my partner Chris Menist to promote vintage Thai-Southeast Asian sounds alongside music from Africa, the Caribbean, Middle-East, and beyond.
The first party went really well, around 200 people turned up without much promotion at the time – only two posters were printed out. Slowly, it expanded to 800 people per party and we started showcasing to other countries in Asia and Europe; Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, UK, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, etc. Afterwards, the party developed into a band: The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band.
What’s special about the Bangkok club scene?
The number of choices for quality after-party food.
What challenges does your scene face?
The 2am curfews and the police.
What gets you pumped to go on a night out?
As I run a club, Studio Lam, we’ve got events six days a week so going out isn’t really special anymore. Staying home has become more valuable, so the only thing that will get me pumped to go out would be interesting DJs and live acts.
If someone is visiting Bangkok, where do you recommend they go?
Studio Lam for partying, Zudrangma Records for digging, Bangkokfile for accommodation and Sangaa Beef Noodles for food.
Are there any other DJs/promoters/performers from the scene you’d like to shout out?
To all the bands under the Zudrangma Records family, The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, Toomturn Molam Group, Rattanakosin Breakin Crew, Electric Piphat Band and the Zudrangma DJs team: Chris Menist, Dangdut Banget, Kanehbos, Tassmah and lastly, the lady behind all Zudrangma Records events Yuki Kunchon – the legendary promoter in Bangkok town!
Any dream guests at future parties?
If you could play a set anywhere in the world, where would it be?
This year, it would be Tanzania – I want to go there for digging. I don’t currently know any record shops there, but I’m really into music from Tanzania at the moment.
Maft Sai will be performing a set at Wonderfruit Festival in Pattaya, Thailand