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Phuket through the eyes of Goldie

Now based out of Thailand, Goldie talks about a future in teaching yoga and making transgendered inspired art

  • Olivia Wycech
  • 12 February 2015
Phuket through the eyes of Goldie

Goldie is easily one of the most dynamic and intriguing artists on the planet and after turning his now twenty-year-old album called Timeless into an orchestral score, he’s relocated to Phuket in Thailand with his wife and daughter. The region and its culture are often overshadowed in how overexploited some parts of it have become, but Goldie has an entirely different view and that view is beautiful. He has fully immersed himself in the serenity of his surroundings and gave Mixmag Asia a look at what life is like in Phuket through the lens of his camera phone and also talked about what the future his in store for him, his music, and his art.

You have a new life. What inspired a permanent move to Phuket?

We have several new lives.

I need to be taught more about myself, and my wife and I have always gravitated to here. We were married here at Cherng Talay temple five years ago and it was our anniversary on Christmas Day. We met in Shanghai and we gravitated here together, we always come here, and David Bowie always told me that reinvention is everything. I like the fact that I can come here and not be known in that respect because 99.9% of people don’t know me here – the hipsters aren’t really here in that sense.

I like the fact that I’m starting a new life – we have a beautiful house that we built from scratch with a paint studio and a recording studio and I want to paint my new collection here. We also have an art company called Golden Artisan and its a legitimate company that we have here with some partners in Bangkok. We will be here until May and then we go back to Europe until October, but in terms of all of our main stuff being here, it’s not like we’re just on holiday. We literally have more here than we have in England now, we have everything, my paintings, my collection, my sneakers, and everything is here. It’s a nice place, we have a sea view and if we want the madness of Bangkok we can just jump on a plane.

And I get to do lot of uninterrupted yoga everyday and get my sweat on. I’m a bit of a hot yoga freak.

It’s good to reinvent.

The music industry in Phuket…not what it is in the UK. Does this mean you’ll be taking a step back from deejaying?

The world is switched onto the Internet. It doesn’t bother me where I am. I spoke to my label manager more times here than when I am in England. The great thing about here is that I don’t have to be disturbed. I want to make an undisturbed album in my house where I can look at the sea, go out, do yoga, come back, and record. My engineers and my artists they come and fly in and we record. The world is a small place now.

To be fair, Asia can only hear me so many times but I go back in May and I will DJ the entire summer, all the big festivals. I’m with Echolocation now, which is Chase & Status and Pendulum; it’s the same agency. The agent is really good and he approached me about a year ago and said ‘look man, you need to be on the roster because you’ve provided a lot to music’ and I was like ‘ah, fuck that, whatever, just keep going’ and he was ‘no, you need to take me seriously.’ I felt kind of humbled by it, it’s hard to take a compliment sometimes. But I think it’s because I feel like my journey still has a long way to go. I want to do a lot of great stuff.

Thailand has a bit of a bad rap in how it’s been exploited and travellers easily miss its charm. What has drawn you to the culture there?

I’ve never seen it as a party city. I’ve seen Patong as being part of the maps that likes to rave, but I think that’s down to farang (foreigners) coming here and doing what they are doing. It becomes whatever the people are reflecting on it. I stay away from that. We’re in Kamala or Surin, and what attracted us to it is just how fucking humble people can be.

You go to India, like I was in Goa last month playing with Carl Craig, and by the time I got to the hotel I was insanely angry because I had so many fucking car horns in my head. Here it’s an island; it’s a different thing. You don’t get car horn road rage. But believe me don’t cross them, Thai people are not meant to be crossed. I’ve seen them switch.

I understand why Thai people are like what the fuck do you want to live here for, I’m just at this place in my life with my family, and my daughter loves it here, we just love it here, it’s a different thing. I’m reading this book on the history of Phuket and it’s fucking amazing.

I just love this fucking place, man. I just love it. And I love what I can do here creatively.

And one of the great thing about coming to Phuket was I gave half my clothes away. I don’t need them. There are all these Burmese workers walking around in Stussy and I feel great. Seriously, I’ve got these pictures of these Burmese rocking some serious 25-year-old Stussy. That’s retro, man.

What are your top five go-to spots in Phuket?

Aw man, fucking Siam Supper Club, it’s a jazz club and it’s got to be the best fucking spot here to be honest.

Pepper’s for good old English food.

But in Phuket itself, it’s all kind of new to us and we’re finding a whole other thing here and we’re finding some interesting places in Phuket town. The architecture in Phuket town is mind-blowing.

The best Italian in Asia is at Gaetana right next to the Chinese temple in Phuket town. The guy has got all his family here, he’s married and he’s been here for like 25 or 30 years. He makes the desserts in front of you and there is literally just like five or six tables.

Surin beach at six in morning is incredible.

Yoga Republic is a great place to go right across the board and it’s got a very beautiful studio.

Villa Supermarket (laughing) is the most incredible place ever.

And of course, Cherngtalay Temple.

I don’t come here to club – I come here to resonate. It really is just that. If I want that I’ll go to Bangkok and go to Glow or go to Singapore and go to Canvas.

How does it feel to get back behind a DJ booth after working with an entire orchestra on an orchestral score?

I never stepped away from it, I DJ every week – it’s just another project. We’re doing it again this year again on the 26thand 27thof July. We’re actually doing two shows now at the same place in South Bank. And we’re doing Colston Hall in Bristol the week after and we’re probably going tour until the end of the year.

But it feels great because it was always going to be that kind of project for me and I think a lot of people kind of cop out by lifting up a laptop up and pressing play and sitting amongst the orchestra. This isn’t about that; this is about notation and full integration. I’m writing stuff down in notes.

It feels great to be here and DJing too. I played back to back with Fabio last weekend, which was lovely because I’ve never played back to back with him.

It’s sound really gay (laughing) but I just love DJing man. I just love playing music.

Which role better suits who you are today better?

It’s not even just two roles because my main goal is painting. Everything comes from that source for me, I’m inspired my painting and I’m inspired by orchestral work in that sense. It’s all fucking relative; it’s all art, man. I’m just lucky to be able to do lots of different things.

I think it’s seasonal too. Like in summer in London, it’s festivals and DJing. And here I’ll be painting and recording my album here, which is going to be kind of weird – recording an album in Kamala. But it’s going to be fun, I have some great musicians flying in and that’s cool.

Do you think it’s ironic that after twenty years an album calledTimelessis still has the ability to be timeless? Was that the idea when you named it?

It was designed like that. I’m an artist, it was specific. Mother is an hour long because it’s mother, and that is its purpose because I played it at my mother’s bedside as she requested when she was in a chapel resting in October when she died. My art serves the purpose of me in the purest sense, and I really mean that. I didn’t make mother for the critics, I made mother because it was what I wanted to do.

The great thing about Timeless is that it is a flat piece of designed aluminum, whereas when you put in in front of an orchestra, we notated it. If you happen to make it to London, of all the shows you’ve ever seen, you need to see this because it is mind-blowing.

Would you say that graffiti and street art are timeless as well?

Most definitely. They really are timeless. They’re the new hieroglyphics. It’s like the Egyptians, you can’t erase that from history. This is the new movement. It’s timeless.

As a creative outlet, how do art and music differ? Do they both fulfil you in the same and are there times where you lean in one direction more than the other?

They’re totally hand in hand. One feeds the other. That’s what they do. But I think in the winter I tend to make music more, I think it’s that kind of thing about being slightly colder. I think in the summer I want to paint because it’s great weather.

Winter is for music and summer is for painting, and orchestral work is somewhere in between.

Art is a big world and while it seems like you are exploring so many of its layers, there is still so much possibility. Painting, sculptures, and music aside, what else could you see this move to Phuket giving you the time to get into?

I spoke with Bikram and I think yoga teacher training will probably happen in the winter. I’ve always wanted five years of yoga under my belt and my practice will be five years in May. But I’ll be living in London in May so I really feel that maybe in the fall, I’ll probably do teacher training. I’ll probably end up doing (retreats) that at some point.

We’re doing the Yogangster thing but we’re getting behind that and looking at young offender programs, in terms of getting young people to do yoga.

I think the bad deal with yoga is that it’s usually people on the higher end of the scale that get to do it and I think it’s really really important that we work together with younger people. You know I came to yoga after mad drug addiction and a brutal injury, and I think it’s really important that we pursue that in terms of young people and how they can change their lives with it.

Also my wife and I want to learn the language a little bit. My wife is getting really into that so it would be nice to learn Thai because I could see us being here for a very long time.

There have been past themes to your art that seem to reflect much of your life, especially the troubled pockets. Now you have a lot of balance in your life, so does this foster some new themes for your art in the future? What motifs would you like explore next?

You know, the ladyboy thing really fascinates me. I’ve always wanted to get a bunch of Thai models together and really do some justice in terms of how it’s portrayed. It’s fascinating how there are so many great artists, like people here are really good at copying art but it lacks originality. I find that really quite disturbing in the fact that the newer generation and the newer stuff I’ve seen coming out of different countries in Asia, like in Cambodia there are some amazing artists but it’s under the radar because they’re not on the map.

I know what style I want to paint and I know I want to make these really beautiful like “look at that” characters. Like warriors meets Thai ladyboys meets contemporary me. That’s something I’m looking at now and I’ve been thinking about this for years, and I know what I want to do and how I want to do it. There is a little bit of punk rock in me, because I grew up in that kind of stuff, so I want to have like a streak of that in there but with a photographic realness.

And it all goes through different phases but I think Thai art in general in terms of what I could bring to it. You could always just bring your stuff here, which is what I’ve done here, but in terms of complementing or pointing out that this is influential to me. I look at this and I think it’s really rocking out with a headdress and a Levi’s demin jacket with biker patches with beautiful hands and covered in dragons or whatever, it will look fucking beautiful.

So yeah, my environment is definitely influencing me.

I just love it here, man.

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