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What did you choose to make Koh Phangan as your home base?
The honest answer to that is I got wiped out in my divorce and it was a place where I could buy something outright!! I had friends here and my name was still good in Asia, after 30 years of working my arse off, I thought, you know, time to chill. While I am far less stressed than in the West, I am not chilling anything like as much as I wanted to!!
What are the main or favorite projects you were you involved in Koh Phangan?
Really enjoyed my time with the Half Moon festival, and I know it’s commercial, but helping Tommy Resort evolve on Full Moon night and now having a lot of people on the podium at 6am. It’s not easy as you have to deffo get the balance right. Certainly the transition from DJ Ton’s very commercial electro set is very hard, that bit I have to get right, so I just start with brand new electro they have never heard but it’s accessible and instant. You know Full Moon, 99% of the people are not real clubbers, they like the bounce and stuff they know. So around 4am I can move away to big room, then onto more techy stuff. I even enjoy my regular Friday at Bangers & Mash. We have moved that on from playing just house classics (no –one ever did that here and it works) to mixing it up with new stuff. Of course my main project now is Love:IS.
Tell us about the Love:IS beach festival production.
I don’t think I have ever worked so hard on something in my life. I can’t tell you the hours I have put in, but I believe so much in what the Haadrin Business Association stands for, and in particular P Noi, my boss at Tommy. He really is a great guy to work for, very forward thinking, and I see every time I am there he truly cares about his guests, Haadrin and the island itself. So I have given this my all. It’s been a challenge as obviously I have brought a Western approach to the event-which meant our online marketing started way back in October so we reached the tourists while they were still planning their S.E.Asia trip. And of course they were copy deadlines to meet, but we did it all. We have REALLY tried to create a superb event.
The choice of headliners is so limited by the ridiculous fees DJ’s are charging-top of my wish list (can’t say who!) was 250,000 euros!! We HAD to go for names that people know-so of course the list consisted of everyone from Sasha to Sven Vath, Carl Cox to Chuckie and Ferry Corsten to Fatboy Slim. The trouble with being on this (fairly) remote island in Thailand is even though Carl, John, Ferry and Sasha are mates, it’s all about business and our date HAD to work totally with what was currently in their diaries. 99% of the time it didn’t but we got lucky with Marco V and he was on our list as he is a world wide known name and this was very important to us. I discussed it with my fave DJ’s on the island like Darragh Casey, and whilst of course Darragh’s sound is different from Marco’s, he knows what we needed to do- to put bums on seats, so even he totally agreed with the choice. And as the festival is 18 hours long, wow that’s plenty of time to touch all the bases of the huge umbrella that is house music, and I am been careful to programmed everyone exactly where they should be.
Marco has moves his sound on a lot since I when I used to play with him at the Slinky’s and God’s Kitchen’s and he produced some nice techy house tracks last year, and I don’t think anyone with his global reputation has been here for quite some time.
We are bringing in a MASSIVE sound system from Bangkok, the stage and lighting is coming from Surat and we have 8 moving heads, 2 strobes, laser and smoke machines. Work started on building the set 2 months ago and the mock up I have seen looks awesome. I was really blown away by it. And of course we have DANCERS!! So the whole set up REALLY is FESTIVAL!
It’s going to look really different from anything seen at Full Moon as it will all be in an enclosed area around Tommy and Phangan Bayshore resorts and facing TOWARDS the Rock. We are even going to have about 8 or 10 small bonfires already to be lit-quite a night little festival thing.
This is how it worked. I had a million meetings with P Noi, then he went and discussed my proposals with the group. I didn’t get everything I wanted, like a Ferris Wheel and water slides but hey maybe next time!! After all this is their own money they have put into this, but they are all great, they understand the risks and historically every party on this island has taken so long to get established, it’s actually quite mad. But we hope to break that trend, and you know what, I have such a great feeling about this. The weather forecast is the best it has been for months and months. Blue skies and a high of 33. Bring it on!!!
What do you think about the music and party scene in Koh Phangan?
I am probably going to get slaughtered for voicing my opinion but fuck it, who cares! Personally I think it’s either all too minimal (I get deep, I just don’t get minimal!) or all to psy. I would just like to see more things a bit in the middle, so I really for the most part like the way Jungle Experience is evolving. Dj’s like Darragh Casey, Jo Fubar and Rob Gritton have great ears, and what is mad is that whilst Jo and Rob were never dj’s back in the UK, they have learned their craft very quickly. Anyone can mix (though 95% are on laptop here-even me now, decided it was time to save what hearing I have left), and for me, it’s about building a set, playing tracks that work together and reading a crowd whilst still playing what you believe in.
Personally house music is the best thing ever-I was there at the start on 88/89 and it was so awesome back then as nothing was pigeonholed-you just played great music that put smiles on faces! This is a tourist island after all, and for sure there are X amount of people who wanna be cool and think they are hip, but let’s take the blinkers off! We all know the atmospheres we experienced back in the West, big cheers, hands in the air, things like that. At many parties it just doesn’t happen here in the same way.
The fault of the DJ’s, no not really. If they advertise a minimal night or a psy night then that is what is going to get played. It’s just the audiences are mostly tourists, and they go to the parties because they “want to party” and for many the music is over their heads. You can feel it, see it and hear it. If there was more choic musically, then I think we would have better parties! Though I haven’t been to Guys Bar for a while, I used to love it for the most part when I was there, and Anahata generally has a great vibe, but there it really does depend on who is playing. Boyonic plays exactly what I love at Backyard. It’s not deep, it’s not anal-but it’s still underground, and it’s emotive.
How do you see Koh Phangan, Party and music scene in couple of years from now?
I would love to see it move on and become both less commercial and less anal!! Do I see that happening-maybe a bit, if Jungle Exp sticks to its guns, and the new kids on the block, both Love:IS and Rhythm & Sands really take off.
What it is your advice for young DJs who want to come and play in parties in the island?
Just don’t come and play for free-we are all trying to make a living here!!!! Honestly, bring new music, find out the parties that are playing your sound and go talk to the promoters!!
What is the best party in Koh Phangan you ever participated in?
It hasn’t happened yet-it happens on Saturday!!
Graham Gold Official website
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