Showcase festivals: A first step to touring the world – Interview with Phum Viphurit

English Thai

Phum Viphurit is a singer-songwriter from Thailand who became famous around the globe via the internet, and may have even surpassed his fame at home. But that’s the story about his recorded music and music videos. Touring around the world is another story that requires a lot of work by a lot of different people; however, there was a starting point of how he was able to enter the international touring circuit…

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Hi, Phum.  Thanks so much for giving us this interview.  What have you been doing lately? When is your new album coming out and where are you touring next?

  • I’ve been touring a lot lately. Currently in New Jersey about to play a show in Brooklyn tonight (29 SEP 2019). After this states run, I’ll be resting up for a good while before returning to the road for some shows here and there.

It seems that you’ve been very successful overseas – some can even say more than in Thailand.  Why is that?

  • I am not so sure myself. I think people perceive my music career that way because of the press attention I get when I appear at international shows/festivals even though I am to play the same amount of festivals in Thailand this year (2019) as well. The currents of the listeners has been my main driving force of picking where exactly to tour, I’ve just been fortunate enough to have listeners and promoters overseas who want to book us and fly us all over the place.

When did you start performing overseas?  Which event was your first one and did it help you land more international gigs?

  • I played LUCFest in 2017. That was where I met my international agent who handles the logistics and paperwork that comes attached to international touring. It really opened my eyes to the possibility of working and traveling simultaneously. But the most important thing I learnt was that you can have all the connections in the world, but that will be of no use if your music is not genuine and true to who you are. Authenticity still remains the key.

So, LUCfest is a showcase festival?  Can you tell us how it works?

  • It’s like a space for bands to invest in themselves to play for an audience of music goers, promoters and festival influencers. Think of it as one big party, where everyone has a good time, but must bring their own plate of food/drinks to share. It functions greatly as a networking event as well – to meet and chat to fellow people in the industry.

Showcasing seems to be a big investment for a band regarding the travel costs – including the fact that they are not paid for their performances.  What kind of artists/bands should consider applying (or not) for showcases? What do they have to be aware of and how should they get prepared?

  • Invest as much as you’re comfortable with would be my advice, you should have to WANT to be there in the first place to even consider paying for the expenses that will come. You should also know that nothing may come from this decision, hence why wanting to put yourself out there and experience the showcase vibe should be a priority before you think of the opportunities that may come afterwards.

There are many showcase festivals around the world, but none ever in Thailand.  Do you think that there’s any particular reason?

  • Showcases can happen anywhere in reality, it just requires the right crowd and most importantly, enthusiastic musicians to perform at them. The music economy in Thailand is not the greatest, let’s be completely honest. You can see bands from the big names to the indie powerhouses breaking their backs each month playing 20+ shows to meet the demands of their label / pay their own bills. It’s a monthly routine that demands a lot of energy and scheduling that forces almost every single band/musician into a commercial work flow that can be destructive on the creative mind and soul. That is a big reason why I think showcases don’t exist here – it is because it is already hard enough for everyone as a musician. I really hope that with this new event [Bangkok Music City], it will create more interests from overseas and more chances for Thai musicians to explore alternative working models and tour abroad.

Would organizing a showcase festival in Thailand be beneficial for Thai bands?  Would it help increase the chances of Thai artists/bands touring overseas?

  • I believe so. Live performance is still the most effective way to gain a new audience and perhaps opportunities abroad. To tour overseas is extremely costly and tiring (from personal experience), but it is completely possible and allows for a lot of experience earning. A lot more Thai bands should experience it so that when they come home, their experiences can be shared with the local industry to at least add some colour and a different workflow to it.

What do you think of Bangkok Music City conference & showcase festival?

  • It’ll be good to open up our scene to promoters around the region to come and experience what Thailand has to offer, which should be beneficial for everybody.

We know that you’ll be in Vietnam at the time of BMC 2019 (so sad… ); ).  What would you like to say to the artists/bands showcasing at BMC 2019?

  • Have a blast! Enjoy every minute of it because you never know what could come next.

Interviewed via email on 29 SEP 2019

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