During my time in Thailand I try to get to know as many different people as possible. It’s always interesting to say the least. This time however it’s far more. In order to show more of the talented people that call Bangkok (or Thailand) their home I added the music & arts section to my-thai.org. My current interview guest is a phenomenal singer who I saw at last year’s Sonic Bang festival. Since this was a huge festival with lots of superstars you can already imagine how good today’s artist has to be in order to make it there. One of my favorite songs of her back then was a great souly-jazzy cover version of Kylie Minogue’s song “Can’t get you out of my head”. It’s very tough to pick a favorite though and once you checked out her voice (do it! do it!) on her youtube channel you will agree with me. Words have been exchanged enough now though. Let’s get down to musical business with the extremely talented Jazz Ashworth – Jazky.
Before we start with the talk I usually try to get some facts straight and set the scene. So let’s start with some background information about yourself.
Where are you from? Born and raised in BKK?
I was born in Bangkok, raised both here and in England. And now back in Bangkok again, not long after finishing my studies in England.
What is your background? Studies?
Well I started taking singing lessons from around 9 years of age; piano lessons started at around 4 or 5. So I have being making music for all my life. Of course between the age of 11 and 15, I released some albums with my good friend Nathalie. Later I went on to study music at University in England. Now I’m back in Bangkok for the fun.
What are you doing here? Besides music.
Besides music I work in digital marketing for a number of different brands.
Oh so you actually have ‘real’ work? :P
Well I consider music is also ‘real work’! I really try to spend as much time writing and performing music as possible. Also the marketing company I work with is very understanding when I have to be somewhere for my music career. They support me a lot.
Besides that I also love to bake. It would be nice to start something related to baking in the future. Maybe a specialist chocolate shop as I am addicted to chocolate. For now music stays my priority, but I think baking will make for a great mid-life career change. Something to do for my grandchildren.
Why are you in BKK? Do you like it?
I like it a lot. I think I am the best age now in order to enjoy Thailand the most. Old enough to be free to explore, young enough to not yet have responsibilities. I think Thailand is much harder for the very young and older people to fully enjoy. Why is easy to answer, it is more fun than England, maybe more fun than anywhere.
What is the best thing about BKK? What is the worst?
What I really like is the food. It’s great. I also love the weather since I really don’t like the cold. Also it is nice how ‘chilled’ people are. Sometimes you don’t have to get too uptight with certain things. Just let it be and it will be ok. Also the freedom we have here. Being yourself. That’s all awesome.
The worst thing by far: the traffic. I try to avoid traffic whenever possible. I used to enjoy driving in England. Here it is a real test of skill and patience.
Do you take motorcycles?
I take motorcycle taxis once in a while, and I used to ride a motorcycle back when I was younger up in Isaan (Northeastern Thailand).
Oh. So you like Isaan? I’m asking since I worked & lived there for a while too.
Yeah, Isaan is great. The people, the food. I’m not a high-tech loving person. I like the easy lifestyle there. It’s so easy to relax in Isaan. And not to forget, there is the mor lum!
Where would you want to live if not BKK? Why?
My original plan was to try working here for 3 – 5 years. But now I don’t want to move just yet. Life in Thailand is too good right now. But most of my family are still in Europe. So if I wasn’t living here, it’d probably be England.
Alright. Now that we know a bit about you let’s get down to the questions that we want to know and you probably rather answer: The music questions.
When did you start with music? Do you also play instruments?
I started with singing lessons at age 9, released my first album when 11. I started to singing in Thai after asking my parents to let me do that. I joined several competitions and that’s how it took off. I do play some instruments – but not well enough to feel happy performing.
How often do you practice?
Every time I’m free. As often as possible.
Do you like performing?
I love performing! It’s awesome.
Where can we see you perform?
I don’t have a regular location. Right now I’m doing more events.
Such as the event Friday morning at Chiang Mai airport. It’s a fundraiser for Dr. Namjai. It’s under the patronage of The Princess (Dr. HRH Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol). The money raised will go to help injured animals. It’s basically to raise awareness for this project.
What is your favorite kind of music to perform?
I love soul! So I love doing pop-soul and similar things.
Are you doing a lot of Thai songs?
Not so many. Thai songs are very hard to sing. The tonality is very difficult. Also the scale is hard to match for me. It would be fun to make a Mor Lum album.
Is it easy to get your name out in the Thai music business?
It’s hard work! I had several albums released when I was young with Nathalie, and we were quite famous. But then I had the backing of a large record label. Now that I am working independently, I realise how hard a job it is. On the other hand, I enjoy the freedom of being independent.
Who is your favorite musician? Your biggest influence?
That’s hard to say in general. Every time you see someone perform you pick up something new and listen to something that you could use. But talking about major influence on my music I would say Amy Winehouse. She is quite important. I love how honest she was about herself and her music. Everything she wrote was the ‘real stuff’ – and that’s what I want to do with my music. Being honest and tell the people how I see things. Furthermore she was really clever with her words, really good with her lyrics. So she’s a big influence.
How does your songwriting process look like?
Oh I can’t consider myself a real writer, not until I have a few well recognised songs. How is hard to explain. Sometimes when it comes to you, it comes to you. Most of my ideas come from my experience. That’s the easiest way anyway, writing about something that you can relate to.
Do you write more happy or sad songs?
I have to admit I write more sad songs. I think it’s easier to write songs when you’re sad – writing from my dark side. The sad side has more of an impact on me when I’m writing. It’s quite difficult to write a happy song. Although one of the Thai songs I wrote was sort of happy. It was about falling in love and wanting to tell the person but knowing that the person is going to leave.
How is that happy? ;-)
That’s not happy – but the closest to happy I ever got with writing songs ;-)
You did a few collaborations, right? – With whom would you want to collaborate once?
There are so many ideas in my mind with whom I would want to work with but I would prefer to surprise people with any collaboration. Right now, I am wanting to work with a good rap artist. I know that will be a cool project, an exciting project to work on. And of course an Isaan song. However they are very hard to sing. I don’t think Luk Thung is for me, but Mor Lum would be great. My dad would love that.
Is there a Thai Band that you really like?
Singto Numchok… He really stands out from the rest. Amazing singer, guitarist, performer. Not only saying this because we’re friends. I really love him. Great music!
Final questions. Now that we talked about your background and your music. Let’s talk briefly about the future.
What are your plans for the future?
No real concrete plans. Just working hard with my music, improving myself as a writer and performer. And hopefully get the opportunity to share it with everyone.
How serious are you trying to push it forward?
I am not an “in your face” type of person. I like for my music to do the talking. The question is always how much of a compromise to make to achieve fame. I much rather have people liking what I do and get recognized that way. That would be my dream.
That’s a good bridge since I was about to ask what’s your biggest dream? In music as well as in general.
Well obviously I would like to be successful with my music and, on the long run, maybe have this baking thing going :-)
Oh before we finish: Do you buy CDs? Download?
NO! I don’t download! We’re making music, we’re not stealing! (Just go on youtube to listen!)
Famous last words :-)
Be true to yourself!
That’s it with the interview. Thank you very much Jazz for joining. It was great fun meeting up and talking about all those things (and so much more).