DJ Orawan is leading Bangkok’s drum’n’bass awakening

The Thai DJ’s BassClef parties are igniting interest in drum ‘n’ bass locally and attracting international stars

Red lasers cut between the tiny upstairs club’s black walls, illuminating a crowd that jostles for a view of the two figures stepping up to the decks. The floor is sticky with beer spilt during the last deep-roller set; the air dense with humidity and cigarette smoke. Bringing the mic to her mauve-painted lips is Gene Kasidit – a transgender singer who’s legendary in Bangkok’s thriving queer scene, and Thai music royalty thanks to her success heading up electro-pop band Futon.

Kasidit wears a silk leopard-print robe, rockabilly sunglasses and an indescribable headpiece of geometric plastic diamonds. By her side on the Pioneer turntables is a petite figure in black headphones and a chunky silver necklace that bears the word ‘BassClef’. Kasidit, as well as the crowd of around 150 – half Thai, half western expats – have come to electronic music venue Safe Room to worship heavy basslines at Bangkok’s only regular drum and bass rave. And none would be here without this DJ.

Orawan Suppasupphawat, founder of BassClef, spins a backing track as Kasidit premiers two drum ‘n’ bass songs – her first toe-dip into the genre. Then the lights dim as DJ Orawan launches into a high-energy headline set, switching gracefully between jump up crowd-pleasers like Macky Gee’s ‘Tour’, and the dirty basslines of Chase & Status’ ‘Program’ and Break’s ‘Keepin it Raw’.

Thailand has dabbled in drum ‘n’ bass since jungle was first played at 90s Full Moon parties on Ko Pha-ngan. Yet it’s rarely broken out of the Western tourist scene into local club culture, which favours K pop and EDM. “I heard jungle for the first time at a Full Moon party in 1999, when I was 19,” says the now-40-year-old Orawan. “I fell in love with it. The beat was different to a 4/4 beat, you didn’t know how to dance to it but you could still groove along.”

Back in Bangkok, Orawan started digging into the UK drum ‘n’ bass scene via burnt CDs sold from bootleg record stores on backpacker stretch Khao San road. The tourist district was the only place she could find records by Fabio & GrooveriderLTJ Bukem and Goldie, who became her introduction to the sound. But it was in New Zealand, where she moved a couple of years later to study audio engineering, that Orawan taught herself to mix and found her niche in the bass music scene…

To read the full article, visit the Bangkok scene report published on Mixmag.

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