Bangkok-native DJ Wii is no stranger to starting the party off right, something he learned in famous venues in Thailand, Myanmar and Australia. The Phuket News recently sat down with Winawee AKA DJ Wii, for an exclusive interview.
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and specifically your background as a DJ?
Born and raised in Bangkok, I have always been an appreciator of music since my teenage years. You would have seen me regularly at bars and clubs, dancing to the beats until dawn. I was exposed to different kinds of music but did not yet understand its true artistic value. My first interest came from working as a bartender in a club when I was still in college. I loved the effect great DJs and good music had on the crowd. The ability of people to express themselves through the craft of mixing drew me in to becoming a professional DJ.
I started learning from DJs that I knew for about a year before starting to play in bars and clubs. At first, I played commercial music like pop, dance and hip-hop in Tapas, Speed, Bombay Bar and other clubs on Thonglor [road] and [in the] Silom area in Bangkok.
During my first few years in the industry I was constantly exposed to different types of music. I became more and more enchanted with house music and was inspired by many great names like Norman Cook, Roger Sanchez, and the late Frankie Knuckles, just to name a few. I then started working at the Marriott and Hilton in Bangkok while often playing as the guest DJ at Café De Moc and Club Culture.
For about a year, I had the opportunity to play at several cafés in luxury resorts in Yangon, Myanmar. I then went to Melbourne where I played in several establishments. One of my greatest experiences is performing once a month at Workshop, a famous Melbourne bar, for over two years. It was a privilege to be the first Asian DJ to have the opportunity to hit the decks at this stylish and hip place. I ended up staying three years in Melbourne.
After several years abroad, I decided to move back to Thailand in order to take care of my mother. I was playing at private functions and events in 5-star resorts around Bangkok. Most recently, before moving to Phuket, I was the resident DJ at Infinity of Love, an upscale wine bar in the RCA area of Bangkok.
How did you get the name Wii?
Wii is a short version of my first name Winawee, which was given to me by my parents. I used to spell it out as “Wee” until one of my friends in Melbourne suggested to change it to “Wii” which sounds more artistic and unique.
Which DJ (or other musician) do you look up to / find inspiration from?
My all-time favourite idol is Norman Cook, better known as “Fatboy Slim”. He is a pioneer of the big beat genre which became popular in the 1990s. I love every song on his second album, You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby. I took a great deal of inspiration from the infectious beats of house and electronic music, and incorporate them in many of my own sets to add a special flavour.
Which DJ(s) do you follow now?
I really like Nakadia. she is not only an internationally known Thai DJ but also one of the few successful female DJs in a male-dominated profession. Having started from scratch she quickly made a name for herself and now travels around the world, playing at major festivals and taking to the decks in some of the world’s biggest cities.
What’s your feel / impression about Phuket?
I thought of myself as being more of the urban type and was concerned that the island life would be too quiet for me, but I was surprised how much Phuket has changed since my last visit 10 years ago. There are many new resorts, shopping malls, cool bars and stylish beach clubs. The island has all the conveniences you’d expect from a big city, yet offers that laid-back beach lifestyle.
How about the music scene in Thailand, and Southeast Asia in general?
The music scene in Thailand, or Southeast Asia for that matter, is dominated by mainstream music from the US. With the hype exploding and still growing, mainstream music is a big target market for all enterprises, attracting the attention of big companies who started creating musicians and singers who are playing the same sounds.
Our music industry lacks variety and individuality. It has become harder to spot interesting artists and even harder for talented artists to reach an audience if their music is not what the mainstream market is after.
That said, I have seen some places play different sounds attract larger crowds, and I am hopeful that this kind of movement will help establish a more diverse music scene in Thailand and greater Southeast Asia.
What kind of sets/lineups are you planning for your Phuket crowds? / What can we look forward to?
There are many great tracks on my playlist. I usually play deep-house, soul and tech-house, but it depends on the audience. I like to connect with the crowd, and play different tunes depending on the event, the time and the people.