It’s so easy to go to Bangkok and end up in the wrong club on the wrong side of town and things can go from bad to worse when buckets are involved. But there is more to Thailand if you know where to look and whilst small, a music culture exists and perhaps as an act of resistance against Thailand’s unpredictable governance whose effects often rub off on the nightlife, it continues to grow into something beautiful. And this is at least in part due to the efforts of Kolour – an events brand that got it start throwing daytime events that are now spilling over into Bangkok’s bustling nightlife.
From its humble beginnings in 2011, Kolour kicked off innocently with a mere 240 people on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Bangkok but grew into something that would later see 2,300 attendees at a party headlined by Sven Väth in 2015. Sometime in between, they threw between six to eight events a year called Kolour Sundays, Kolour in the Park, Kolour Nights at the W Hotel, and even hosted stages at international festivals like Wonderfruit – but all of these daytime events. They found the concept didn’t translate well into the evening and thus Sunn was born, their latest nightlife concept that has been surfacing in clubs around Bangkok.
And as their events grew, so did their team. Kolour, the mother brand to all their side projects, was founded by Coran and Vina who are now responsible for marketing, general management, and food and beverage respectively. Melvin came in after that and is responsible for the production of the stages, sound and light, then came Mark as a partner and strategic director, Sebastian came in as in intern and now acts as project manager, most recently Athom came on with Sunn, and they’ve also picked up an assistant (Chao) and an art manager (Lud). They’ve also got a slew of DJs associated with the brand whom are on regular rotation countrywide.
Their collective goal is to always do things differently. Their events break traditions and people tend to pile in early. They’ve made food and beverage a paramount centerpiece at their events, and as such Kolour events come off as a social gathering and not just a place to get fucked up.
We threw out 20 questions to two members of the Kolour team, Coran and Sebastian, so Mixmag Asia readers could get a taste of what Thailand is like far away from Khao San Road.
What kind of jobs do you have when you are not throwing raves?
SK: Sometimes I’m doing a few design jobs here and there, but I mainly work on events. You can find me playing weddings and helping out on charity events.
CM: At night I’m in a club 2-3 days a week either DJing or hosting our weekly house/techno night called Family Wednesdays. In the day I run an events company called Kollectiv. We have private clients in everything from artist management, marketing, sound, production, ticketing, etc. I’m also a Superhost on Airbnb and rent out two apartments.
Take us on a night through Bangkok, all the way from dinner to after-party?
CM: I’m always on the search for a quality burger! My current go-to spot is at Game Over in Thonglor. Next it’s Glow Nightclub where I almost live (I’m there that often) and then if it’s a really big night, I’ll hit after party at an apartment, hotel, etc. The aim is to be home before sunrise and avoid the daylight walk of shame.
SK: Usually I grab some Thai food at the local street food stand and head over to my buddy’s for the best gin and tonic in town. At around midnight, just when his stereo is pumping at almost max, we get ready to go to Patpong, Bangkok’s ping pong show alley.
Once in a while an amazing event called Disco Robot is hosted there. Between red lights and cute little dancers you can find me grooving to the good old disco hits from last century.
At around 3am we head down to Glow for a wild hour of high-energy techno. All familiar faces around – good times! When the lights turn on and everyone starts to whistle it’s time to go for a late night snack. Literally next to Glow you can find an amazing place called Love Shack serving great Thai food for exhausted clubbers. I highly recommend the gai pad prick pao with a fried egg on top – yummy.
Now it’s almost 5am and we decide to go back to my friend’s place, turn back on the stereo and relive the moments from a few hours ago. We move to the roof of the building just before the sun comes up. Morning Yoga on the 50th floor above Bangkok is an incredible experience. You can look in any direction, the only thing you see is city. It reminds a bit of a Star Wars scenario.
Before it gets too late I should go back home and sneak in without my girlfriend waking up.
What’s the best thing about Bangkok?
SK: The best thing about this city is the overwhelmingly huge variety of everything. You can find any kind of people from all different countries. You can do all kind of activities from finding your spiritual peace to getting completely fucked up.
There are so many opportunities here, so many chances and so many creative minds. It’s really a blessing and at the same time curse with all the overload of unnecessary bullshit.
At the end you get to choose your path.
CM: The land of smiles rep is so true. The locals have this saying mai pen rai meaning ‘It’s alright, never mind’. And because of this relaxed attitude, they accept things as they are and are happier. It’s calmed me down a lot since I’ve been here.
What’s the worst thing about Bangkok?
SK: Cheese is so expensive.
CM: I call it the city of 1000 smells. Sometimes the traffic, pollution and congestion can be overwhelming.
What’s been the most memorable Kolour party you’ve ever thrown?
SK: This definitely has to be Kolour in the Park. I just realized afterwards what impact this event had. It was few months of hard work, bad sleep and worries, but it went well and to see everyone smiling and enjoying themselves gives back what I put into it. It was an amazing experience to be part of this!
CM: Very tough one but would have to go with Kolour In The Park. There was a moment when I was on stage watching Sven Väth dropping bombs to the packed crowd in the open-air park and almost needed to pinch myself. Papa Sven is one of my all-time favourite DJs.
What’s been the most ridiculous Thai ‘law’ or obstacle that you’ve had to overcome to make one of your events happen?
SK: I wouldn’t say ridiculous. Thailand has a very special culture and value systems. Of course these don’t always favor the framework for our events, but this is the challenge we have to face every day.
Just think outside of the box and find a way how you can make your event work within the limitations that you are given.
CM: Probably the shut down times for clubs/bars that are constantly changing without notice. We have been shut without warning or reason a few times. It’s just one of those things that promoters have to risk when throwing parties.
What makes throwing parties in Bangkok worth it?
SK: As the scene is still pretty young it’s a great feeling to contribute to the development and provide a creative space for the people.
CM: Doing events and concepts that have never been done here and hearing back from the guests who’ve had an amazing time.
How do you see Bangkok’s music scene changing in the next five years?
SK: More of the bigger scale events will appear and big DJs from overseas will start to come here more often. By then, the scene will have grown to a respectable size and people are becoming more aware of the music itself. Who the big players gonna be, I don’t know. Exciting times are about to come.
CM: Bangkok will become a hub for quality music in Asia. We have all the makings of a fast developing scene. There are internationals frequently touring, more unique event spaces, young Thai producers are emerging, the crowd is more open to hear something new and there’s a fast growing festival scene. Also a new Asian record label called 555 just started signing local producers.
Techno vs. house?
CM: I’ve always been in the middle and go between the two so don’t have a preference. A good tune is a good tune.
If you could bring any DJ in the world to Thailand, who would it be?
SK: Mr. Raoul K
CM: Carl Cox. Oh Yes, Oh Yes!
What’s the secret to getting people to come out on (Kolour) Sundays?
SK: I think it is not a secret really. It’s just really nice to go out on a day event on Sunday to finish the week.
CM: Build anticipation and word of mouth. We never reveal all the details about our event at once. It’s always bit-by-bit as we lead into the event date to create hype. We also make the whole day an experience and don’t sell people on the music alone.
How are people going to FEEL the difference between Sunn parties and Kolour events?
SK: Kolour is dedicated to the day with easy listening house music and a great groove whereas Sunn delivers a proper big room atmosphere in a nightclub. You’ll feel the difference in bass.
CM: With Kolour they will feel the open-air style daytime fun. With Sunn it’s the pumping warehouse type of feel.
What one song best represents Team Kolour and your parties?
SK: Metro Area – Miura
CM: Metro Area – Miura (Over the years this track has had a lot of appearances at our day events.)
What’s the best beach in Thailand?
SK: Lonely Beach on Koh Chang. It unites crazy and wild parties with an amazing and beautiful scenery. Lovely people down there as well!
CM: Four years back when I was on a charter boat we stopped at a tiny island no more than 200m in length. It was about two hour boat ride from Phi Phi. It’s known by the locals only and has one of the most beautiful white sand beaches I’ve ever seen. The name… I don’t know! Never could find it again.
What’s the hardest lesson Thailand has taught you?
SK: I mean this is quite general, but if you want to be successful you need to work really hard. It’s so easy to get lost in this city and really screw up. Therefore it needs strong discipline to keep track of things and move on.
CM: Always look twice when crossing the road! Got run down by a motorbike once and ended up in hospital.
Who is the most underrated Bangkok DJ?
SK: For me Zeek (P’Noom) from Viva 8 is one of the best DJs in town. You really can hear the soul and the heart in his sets. He is also a man of great character and always humble and nice. Unfortunately he doesn’t get booked too much.
CM: There is one guy with amazing talent who used to be a real big touring act back in the day: Kimbal Collins. Heard him destroy Glow recently with a three hour set. I was blown away! We have booked him for an upcoming night and really looking forward to it.
What one thing do you hate doing when it comes to throwing parties?
CM: The whole process of managing the guest list that is nearing 200+ these days. It’s a ton of emails, FB messages, Whatsapps, texts, and more. Sometimes people get missed (by accident) and others take it personal if I don’t put them on. Then the part that comes after the party: closing that mountain of paperwork for the accounting/finances.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken with your events?
SK: With our events we always try to keep risks at a minimum. We never had any big incidents and the success talks for itself.
CM: Back in 2012 I booked this solo Thai guitar player/singer. We were trying out live music early in the day. The guy arrived in a full suit (for a day party) and was belting out all these wedding style songs and sweating profusely. He killed the vibe and the crowd was just staring at him. He sung with perfect English but didn’t actually speak any English. It was really hard to politely explain he needed to change what he was playing. I look back and laugh now but I was really freaking out in the moment.
I wish Bangkok…
SK: …would open up to club culture a bit more.
CM: …would finally get a rental company that does Funktion One!
In five years, Kolour will be…
SK: …well respected in the global scene.
CM: …run by a team of friends doing what they love most and a household name in Asia for quality music/events.