Thailand is no stranger to pop music. In fact, its strength lies in a mesh that has developed and built the nation’s taste in music. Recently signed to Warner Music Thailand, Valentina Ploy is the culmination of exactly that beauty; the sublime mesh that resonates charisma and fortitude. Monica Tong, editor-in-chief of Music Press Asia speaks with Karl on how Ploy embodies the Thainess that Warner loves so much and the modern symbolism of Thai culture.
1. Hi Karl! Congratulations on signing Valentina Ploy. How is Valentina Ploy an important part in telling the world about the talent of a Southeast Asian country like Thailand?
Hi! Thanks very much. We are all very excited about working with Valentina Ploy. She is an amazing artist – not only has she got a unique voice, she is also a talented songwriter and is incredibly charming too – she’s a star!
I think Valentina could play a huge role in introducing the vast array of incredible talent in Thailand to the rest of the world because of her ability to express herself not only in Thai and English, but also in many other languages such as Italian, French and Spanish.
Thailand has many incredible artists, and music fans in the region know this – they look beyond the Thai lyrics in search of the overall musical experience of songs. However, I believe that it’s been a challenge for many Thai artists to reach a wider audience due to language barriers.
With a talent like Valentina Ploy and her incredible music representing Thailand, we are sure that we’ll see more interest from fans in what Thailand has to offer musically, both in the region and hopefully the rest of the world.
“I believe that Thais are intrinsically creative: You can see it in everything, from Thai food, desserts, traditional textiles, modern fashion, visual arts, advertising, film, photography, and of course music.”
– Karl Kongkham, MD of Warner Music Thailand.
2. Versatility is important in developing the career of an artist. What kind of talent do you usually look for in a new artist?
Talent is talent, and we are open to all kinds. In the past few years, we’ve worked with incredible artists spanning many genres – EDM, synth pop, hip hop, English language indie-folk, R&B, Thai traditional country music, alternative indie, and much more.
And rather than versatility, I’d say that originality, tenacity, as well as a strong identity are key. There are many incredibly skilled musicians out there: great singers and wonderful players – however, the artists that have clear originality, a real strong identity, and a belief in themselves that drives them to really develop their voice, are the ones that we’d love to work with.
While some artists may break quickly, others may take some time, but if they have something unique to contribute to our musical landscape; if they are authentic and sincere in their creativity; if they have the ability to win their fans over and keep them engaged beyond the moment of the release; if they don’t get discouraged when their music doesn’t perform up to their expectations and continue to create and engage listeners, then they are the types of artists whom we are excited and motivated to work with, to support and to empower using all the resources at our disposal.
3. Tell us about Thai culture and how its people embrace pop culture and new artists?
First, let me preface by saying that while I am half Thai, I was born and raised in Canada so even though I’ve been based here for 23 years, I still feel like my point of view is that of an outsider, at least a bit.
Having said that, I believe that Thais are intrinsically creative: You can see it in everything, from Thai food, desserts, traditional textiles, modern fashion, visual arts, advertising, film, photography, and of course music.
Anyone who has experienced any Thai television, cinema, or advertising knows that we love to entertain and be entertained in an emotionally engaging way, from slapstick comedy to tear-jerking emotional storytelling in advertising, intense dramas, and scream-inducing horror stories.
Thais have a unique ability to embrace cultural influences from elsewhere, infuse it with a uniquely Thai point of view, and create something completely new. And I think you’re seeing more and more of this in the music created by Thai artists.
If you look at the local charts these days, they are topped with Thai music with no particularly dominant genre. Thai artists don’t just appreciate and embrace pop cultures from around the world, they are able to understand it in fine detail, internalize it, appreciate it, turn it around and be inspired to create something new. What’s amazing is, listeners are appreciating this more and more. They are actually seeking it out, championing it, and helping drive the innovation and creativity we see today in the Thai music scene.
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