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We invited musician Sam into Phanganist HQ to tell us about his long time stay on Koh Phangan and musical talents.
You will most Saturdays performing at the Saturday Walking Market at Thong Sala...
Hello Sam, you have been here for around thirty years now, what did you fall in love with?
I have two things, one is the simple life and another one is it's far from the madding crowd.
You have to think about all three islands, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
Nothing happened here at first, it all comes from Samui in the 1970’s, then in the 80’s people started making bungalows there.
I fell in love with Chaweng beach, it’s one of the most beautiful I have seen in my life.
There was nobody here but then in 1983 Chaweng beach had a video made about it so people started going to the restaurants and venues more whereas before we would go to the beach and make a fire and enjoy some nice communication. So in 1983 I moved to Koh Phangan then slowly people started to also come here, backpackers with interesting stories.
I spent time in places like Europe, Germany, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and of course here. In 1988 I started making parties in Haad Rin with the Niras Bakery people, Mr Cha who has now sadly passed away twenty years ago but he was very helpful.
At that time Haad Rin beach had a community, houses were built on the hillside so it was something very nice.
Sometimes we would organise concerts for saving homeless people, Asia awareness and anti war, we did one against the Iraqi war and got a petition sent.
Then in April 1989 Haad Rin had its first Full Moon party, so now everywhere seems to make a party, there’s music everywhere and you can’t sleep. This led to me moving to Koh Tao and I stayed there for about five years.
What made you come back?
I went to Australia for a few years then came back and stayed in Trat, I had a guesthouse for a year and then afterwards I went to Hawaii for a few years.
Then in 2002 I came back to Koh Phangan and built a house in the middle of the jungle at a beach called Conti beach near Haad Rin.
I built the house halfway to the top of the hill, my friend also had his house there nearer the beach but I was up steep! I stayed there nearly seven or eight years.
Living there is almost like being a castaway and near the beach there was a cave where we could collect water to drink, this cave with it’s dripping water and pool was nice to meditate and sit in.
We had four or five months of a dry season where we had no water but I had a small longtail boat so I would go to buy six or seven big twenty litre bottles, drop them at the beach and carry them to my house, but after eight years I can’t do it anymore!
Tell us about your musical background…
I started young but never so seriously. When I was thirty I then started to take it very seriously, I needed something to express myself with so taught myself.
I like jazz and classic, any kind of music, even some good pop but I’m really a jazz lover at heart.
Now it’s been a long time, every day I have a practice but maybe it’s better to learn when you’re a kid. It’s like a language, you have a good instructor and can develop much more at a young age but always I have loved music.
What have been the best times you’ve played?
The best time I played was Chaweng beach at night time. We would go out and sit there around a bonfire under the starry nights with nobody around and no noise.
There was a generator but it was cut off at 10pm, then you heard only the sound of nature, it was very very nice.
What do like about playing Walking Street on a Saturday?
It's not really on the street but at Seaside restaurant and it is not for money but I said I would like to play for them.
They’re very nice and give me food and drinks. It’s good to practice in front of people, I don’t go out so sometimes especially on a saturday it’s a good idea to go out and find a good place to hear music and socialise and meet the people, I’m definitely having fun.
One thing I do need when I do this is a bit of a sound system, playing accoustic without it doesn’t reach the people as there is so much noise, so we have to make a good sound.
So what do you think of the changes to Koh Phangan?
Life is impermanent, we come to know this even without Buddhism.
We get older, grow and age, not only Koh Phangan but everywhere, America, Japan, everything will change.
But here is where I can and want to have a real simple life.
Do you have any plans or projects for the rest of year?
For my age, normally I should have a pension and a retired life but when I look back it’s been forty five years I have been out of my country.
When I left I was still a student but I realised my retired hippy life since then, I was free, no guarantee for security.
Usually people think about money and pensions but not me, I always try to live spontaneously.
Where are your favourite places?
I might drive to somewhere quiet, you can still find many quiet places, even the way to Haad Salad, somewhere quiet with not so many people.
What is your life philosophy?
In Koh Tao for a while I had my idol life, early in the morning I would go out on my longtail to shark island where it is deep and get fish for my dinner.
I believe the meaning of life is simply being happy, if Buddha or Jesus say everything should be happy that’s fine but first of all try to be happy yourself.