Dave King (UK DJ, Producer, and Engineer) first came to Koh Phangan around 2008. It was his first trip to Thailand, and within a few hours of being here he knew this was where he wanted to be.
He was back 6 months later for another holiday, and subsequently he returned many times, but never as a DJ…only as a tourist. I have always traveled overseas and my main rule was never to go to the same place twice to make sure I could see as much of the world as possible, Koh Phangan changed all that. This was the place I could come to that I could get everything I needed in an escape from everyday life back home.
"travelling overseas my main rule was never to go to the same place twic- Koh Phangan changed all that."
He first came to Thailand with a group of friends and we did the standard route starting in Bangkok and working our way through to Samui, Koh Tao and Phangan then Phuket / Phi Phi / Krabi (with many unexpected stops along the way!) We knew very little about where to go or what to do so it was a great adventure for us all. The Koh Phangan stop was on the list from the start as one of my must see destinations simply due to the party scene and the reputation as one of the few places where you can hear genuinely excellent house and techno music.
His connection to the scene in Koh Phangan is two things firstly as a tourist: although I live here, when I go out to an event or party I go purely to enjoy the company of the many great characters here and to listen to the DJs do their thing. When all of those things come together and everyone is on top form then there is nowhere else I would rather be than Koh Phangan. Secondly is my connection through music….. Sometimes they let me play a few records of my own and it’s always a privilege.
DaveKing with friends at the Pirates bar!
What makes you (your music) special?
The music I play is constantly evolving. What I'm trying to do when I DJ is play music that people otherwise would not have the opportunity to listen to. I spend hours / days / weeks / months / years hunting for new music, searching for that track that when you press play you just say to yourself ‘wow’, for me there is no better feeling than when you find it, and you know you can play it for other people soon. Regardless of the age of a track or the name of the producer, If I feel something when I listen to it and I feel good, then I want to play it for others to enjoy, I want to communicate to the crowd the emotion that I felt when I first heard the track. When you see me behind the decks with a massive smile on my face, then you know that’s one of those tracks.
How did you get to where you are now?
I always listened to music as much as I could. From a young age I would sneak into the back room and play my dads vinyl and I was amazed by it and have been ever since. Growing up I had no choice but to listen to things like Pink Floyd, The Who, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Level 42, the Pet Shop Boys… or if my mum ever played music I would be listening to the likes of Whitney Houston. To be honest most of the time I hated it! (I love it now though) So when I finally became a teenager, I started to have some money and I could buy my own music. In the early days I was listening to things like the Prodigy, KLF, 808 state, Ratpack, Njoi. (Music that I would return to later in life).
But my musical tastes spread across many genres, I had a few years listening to mainly hardcore – the likes of DJ Slipmatt, vibes and dougal – legends in their own fields… but when I was feeling a little bit more aggressive I could easily spend the night listening to Mark EG or Mzone playing hard techno – seeing these guys live was just insane at the age of 18! I have still never seen anything like it. Many of my school days were spent at the back of the class with one earphone in my ear listening to these mixtapes all day, trying to look like I was listening to the teacher when I was infect listening to a recording of a hardcore rave somewhere.
By the time I was 14 I managed to get enough money together to purchase my very own set of decks. I bought 2 of the cheapest belt drive turntables on the market and a second hand 4-channel mixer which looking back was actually pretty good. Around this time I was getting into trance – the likes of Lange, DJ Taucher, Energy 52, Paul Van Dyk, Cygnus X, and I proceeded to put together some of the worst mix tapes ever known to man! (One of which a friend of mine, Brian gave back to me about 12 months ago, I felt proud he kept it all that time. and he didn’t tape over it, What a guy! (Photo attached)
Dave began his career when was only at age 14!
So a few years of playing trance, and dreaming of Ibiza came and went… Until I discovered 2 records that changed my musical tastes forever and inspired me down the path I am on today. I didn’t know who these producers were at the time but when I started to play these two records everything changed, and I still follow and play their productions today.
The first is Sashas EP Xpander, you can still get away with playing this record now, timeless.
The second was Danny Tenaglia – Turn me on (John Digweed and Nick Muirs Bedrock mix). A good track, which also introduced me to John Digweed and the label Bedrock.
At the age of around 16 I bought both these records on vinyl without knowing what they sounded like, I have no idea why. I remember the guy in the record shop saying – don’t buy those you definitely wont like them. And he was right, I didn’t like them. At the time I was listening to trance music, with riffs that you cant get out of your head all day. This music was different, it wasn’t catchy that way, it wasn’t flashy, and it didn’t scream everybody put your hands up. But I listened again, and again, and again…. In the end that left me with a pile of vinyl that I didn’t like, and two records that I did like. But thankfully (yes thankfully) technology moves on and CD decks started to arrive which meant more affordable music. I never really liked playing on CDs coming straight from my belt drive decks to CDs felt weird and un natural, and I had a bit of a break from DJing as I couldn’t afford to keep buying new vinyl and I didn’t like djing with CDs. But the reason I'm grateful that technology moves on is that the next era, after CDs was digital and traktor pro. The rest is history.
A small point about ‘laptop DJs'. I think it’s amazing how much you can do with technology, and there is nothing wrong with using it at all. If you are a good DJ then you will know how to use it, and how not to use it. The fakes are always found out soon enough, and I just think its not worth all the arguing and ego that surrounds it. If you make me dance, surprise me, show me some emotion…. Then I really don’t care what you play your music on.
Where is your favorite place on the island?
I love peace and quiet, when all you can hear is the wind and the birds, so my favorite place on the island right now is my house. I sit on the balcony, total peace and quiet, beautiful scenery and I just ask myself what I would change if I could do absolutely anything I could think of…. The answer is nothing. Other than that, there are so many places of beauty here, it’s easy to explore, get lost, and find a small piece of paradise.
What do you feel you can bring to the Phangan scene?
I feel like I bring something different to the music scene here in Phangan. You will always hear new tracks when you come to see me play, and certainly some techno styles that aren’t heard too much around these islands. Also, when I play im energetic, and I like to have fun…..so get involved!
How about favorite place you’ve played at on the island?
The number one place in Thailand for me to DJ has always been Backyard, and I think always will be. I feel very lucky to have been given the chance to play there within a few months of me arriving in koh phangan. That place is all about the music, any DJ that plays there always takes it seriously, and I always feel a sense of responsibility when I'm asked to play there, I feel like nothing but my very best will do and the people will let you know pretty quickly if you don’t bring your A game…. But when you perform there, and the crowd love it, what a feeling. I have to thank my good friends who helped to make it happen the first time, and especially DJ Boyonic for having faith. I want to mention the Moonset party at pirates bar too, as I really enjoy playing there. Venus Vibes is one of my favorite DJs on the Island, who I booked myself as soon as I got the chance and the place has a great vibe about it, lovely people involved with running it and I love the sound system as it rattles your brain in the dj box haha!
Playing at MoonSet Party
Where is your favorite place (in the whole world) you’ve played at?
My favorite place I ever played at was in a basement, underneath a hotel in Manchester city center. I was booked to play a private party there. When I arrived it turned out to be a wedding reception, the two people getting married have a passion for house and techno and they wanted it to be a part of their big day, so they were all looking forward to my set quite a bit and the place was set up just like an underground club is in Manchester – Dark, hot and packed! Anyway, I played for a few hours longer than I was supposed to, until the venue owners were turning the lights on and pulling plugs. But the reason its my favorite gig ever, is that it made me remember why I do what I do, why I constantly listen to music, why I love watching a crowd just lift when I play the track I'm playing because I love it myself. I was privileged enough to be part of this big day and we kept in touch, we are still friends to this day…. When you have music and passion, it can forge lifetime friendships that reach so much further than the dance floor.
What/who inspires you?
My idol when it comes to DJing is Carl Cox, the guy was around playing records, pushing boundaries when I was 12 years old, working hard playing the clubs around the UK trying to make a name for himself and still today he works very hard. He has changed his style along with the times many times, and he always plays a few records that I would not have heard unless I heard his set. Recently he played a Jazz Funk set at a big festival in the UK, and it was excellent – a true lover of music of all genres.
"...In Koh Phangan I am inspired by the people that live here,some of them im proud to call my good friends,
they have all been totally supportive of what I have been trying to do here,
and without them it would have been so much harder..."