Working as an Artist in Thailand

I know there are some players out there . . . musicians, actors, poets, visual artists, sound and light technicians, and so many more, all wondering what life would be like if we could just lift our bodies out of the steaming shade and rise into the southeast Asian heat long enough to get some lasting creative work done. Collaborating with Thai artists, I think, would produce such unique dreamlike pallets of sound and light where the results would dazzle the imagination and inspire generations to come.

My questions are: How can expats best go about creating a vibrant Thai-international arts community with the inclusion and balances of the foreign and native veterans of the artistic genres? What are the obstacles? What are the advantages? I know that there are great educational centers in Thailand for Thai artists. However, for us as guests and new residents of the nation . . . How can we implement a progressive creative movement within the host country, while respecting and adhering to the laws of the land? Can it be done?   dcb

davidcolinburt :

Can it be done?

On a one-way Thai (only) beneficiary basis,....Yes!

On a proportionately reciprocal basis.......No!

So, is it a one way street? Can I only bring my artistic work to Thailand without taking my productions back to our world, our global village? Do I have no hope of making a respectable profit for myself at this work so I can survive and reinvest?

Is it not possible through Thai law to establish a recording studio and production house to promote local talent mixed with international talent?   dcb

There is nothing keeping you from finding inspiration here in Thailand and trying to sell your work back in the West or elsewhere but trying to set up your own recording studio and production house would take serious connections and deep pockets in my estimation. 

If you want to do something here you would probably need to find an influential Thai and convince them you could bring something to the table on one of their ongoing projects.  There are only a handful of big player here and if you were to get in their way, you would be crushed.

I used to play squash with the owner of Grammy Entertainment in the old days and he made it sound like a pretty tough business.  You might be better off getting invited to join in an onstage jam occasionally and hope no one turns you in for working without a work permit.

Jana and VF: Good points and a heads up reminder. On one trip through Thailand's south, I sat in with several different bands in several different cities and towns. It was great fun and the players were all super good. I also ran into some expats from California, etc, who have kind of a blues clubhouse. One musician lamented that a hometown recording studio with an experienced producer was sorely lacking.
     Anyway, when I found out that I could have been turned in for jamming onstage, I was taken aback. So, I started asking about how I could play and record with no worries. My lawyer who has offices in BK and Chiang Mai said that I would have to start a business and hire 4 or 5 Thai employees. I thought, "Hey, that's my band".
     Another idea came to me -- My wife is Thai, a chef from a family of chefs well established in the restaurant business in BK. So, what if I were to slide on down south, Gulf side, and open a restaurant-cabaret, employ a band of mainly Thai players as a house band when need be?
     What if I brought in some local and international acts, have Sunday R&B and blues jams, toss in some world music, jazz and country and do some live recording??? The food would be great, the music would be great . . . I would get to play . . . Or would I?  Would I be a happy camper?!?! . . . Or not . . . hmmm. dcb

dcb, Buddhism is about simplicity. You have been well advised :top: Cheers!

I shall contemplate the virtues of simplicity. It is possible that I might have lost my way somewhere along the road to artistic destiny. Finest regards.  dcb

davidcolinburt :

I shall contemplate the virtues of simplicity. It is possible that I might have lost my way somewhere along the road to artistic destiny. Finest regards.  dcb

The tone of your reply indicates that obviously, you received my drift, out of context. Pardon my imperfect English (L3) composition skills. :thanks:

Anyway, pay close attention to post #4. And, finest regards to your (not really a "newbie" to the Kingdom) self, as well. Ok? :cheers:

Hi Jana. Whoops, sorry -- no tone intended. On the contrary, I took your message very seriously -- It woke me up from a lengthy mental / spiritual blur. I also enjoy reading VF's comments very much, and learn a lot there as well. I read post #4 again and, yes, it's a real eye-opener.
     Many many moons ago, I used to meditate much more and contemplate things much more deeply. Original music danced in my imagination like it was in surround sound. Vivid artistic visions would appear in my mind and I would watch them unfold into glorious colours and shapes. I was inspired at the flick of a switch. In one dream a very wise musician appeared and I asked that person what inspired his playing the most. The sage said: "Behold, a most pure and simple child". 
     Then I got sidetracked somewhere along the way . . . I was taken away from my music and got immersed in teaching English, which at the time became an all consuming occupation. Then I got lost in the material world. Anyway, thanks to your and VF's feedback, I am getting my priorities straight. I will find a way to give musically when I am Thailand. The only thing I really want back is fresh inspiration.
     When I was in the Musicians' Union, we had to abide by zoning laws. If outsiders play in a different local at a big show, for example, local players of an equal number have to be paid whether they play at the venue or not. We always named some friends -- Our long distance pals would get a nice cheque (check) in the mail. It seems to be the same idea in Thailand, i.e. the local players are protected. I can't take work away from a local player -- This I can understand. However, not being able to legally sit in and jam out a few tunes with a band is somewhat discouraging. I'm going to run this by my BK lawyer and see if there is a way to get around this. If not, I hope I would be able to at least have a private party with a band. (You're both invited!!) Writing, maybe even collaborating, and having a private recording studio seems to be OK. As long as I can live and breathe the music, I can continue to experience that particular kind of joy.
     Sorry, I'm rambling here. Time to sign off. So far this has been a three person forum. Not many folks chiming in. Anyway, thank you for your comments . . . very much appreciated. Cheers!   dcb

Perhaps you attended but if not you might look for events like:

Hey Straydog:  That looks really nice. Past now, but something to watch out for in the future. Thank you.   dcb

jana611 :

dcb, Buddhism is about simplicity. You have been well advised :top: Cheers!

The path of least resistance?  dcb

Just curious . . . am I the only musician among us?   dcb

Another event this year that might interest you.

If you haven't been to Saxophone Jazz & Blues Pub located next to Victory Monument in Bangkok then check it out one evening.

davidcolinburt :

Just curious . . . am I the only musician among us?   dcb

You sound surprised.  You have been on here long enough to have sussed out who posts here and why. :)

I am a little surprised, VF. I thought there might be some musically inclined stragglers out there . . . not even somebody who plays the radio?

Oh no . . . It's looking like it's just me inhabiting a lonesome outpost for stray guitar pickers.

I'm already writing the song. hahaha

"Turned around . . . upside down . . . inside out . . . and no wonder . . . after all I am in Siam"

Thanks to Straydog for the cool links. Great stuff. And thanks to Jana and VF for the insights. 

Best . . . dcb

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