Thailan When is one of those musical finds that are akin to quantum mechanics – artists and music that are like atoms spontaneously coming in and out of existence. She may not release a record once every two years but her music always sounds timeless, as if it were recorded just yesterday off of a MacBook.
Thailan has a wonderful back story to match her musical and artistic intricacies. Of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, she was born in a refugee camp in Bangkok. She moved around California when she was little and her family eventually settled in the Chico area. Currently based in Brooklyn for the past five years, she is making the transition back to California, hoping to settle in San Francisco. In addition to being an accomplished musician, Thailan is also a visual artist and she’s hoping to release her EP in 2011 or 2012.
I had the opportunity to interview Thailan via e-mail this week. Here’s more about this amazing artist:
Radio Morillo: How long have you been making music and what compelled you to make music?
Thailan When: I’ve been singing in bands for 8 years but my love for music started when I was 6. I realized it was an avenue for me to tell my story. I wanted to make people feel something outside of themselves, and still believe it was just as real. Most people live in their own different world so I wanted to create a space, an experience where, during that show, in that song, we are all living in the same world. Music and songs erase the lines between us. Movies and art does the same thing. I see them as necessary tools. I feel music and art are my life’s calling, whether i want to accept the responsibility everyday or not. When I am making music I am channeling love. I am not special, that’s my point. Everyone has a responsibility to contribute something. For me, I chose music.
RM: How would you describe your music?
TW: My songs are emotional. My intention with music is for it to be therapeutic. I think people make music for different reasons… for vision quests, exploration, exploitation, recognition, financial, for fun etc. My music is bittersweet because I’m reflecting my life experience. I want to heal myself and help other people heal their emotional wounds. I want people to feel like it’s ok to be vulnerable, to show them there is strength in this kind of humanity.
RM: I first discovered you on MySpace. What kinds of audiences have you attracted?
TW: Generally my audience tends to be good listeners because the songs I sing are more interesting if you can get into the story behind it. The production of my music is simple and at times technically amateur. It isn’t sophisticated. My fans are incredibly supportive and kind.
RM: How often do you perform?
TW: When I’m keeping myself busy I perform about once a month. I have performed in various venues in California, New York and Europe.
RM: Who are your musical influences?
TW: There are a lot of artists that have influenced me but that would take too long to list them all! I love doo wop, soul, and blues.
“One Million Year Love Song” by Thailan
RM: You are also a visual artist. Does your music and visual art affect or influence one another?
TW: I listen to music when I’m making art and I set up a soundtrack for the piece I’m working on and then play that soundtrack on repeat. The drawing “One Million Year Love Song” was created entirely while listening to “Tekno Love Song” by CocoRosie. It keeps the mood stable, and keeps me meditative on that mood, and that energy is then conveyed in my art. I don’t really make art unless I’m listening to music. However, my musical process isn’t as directly inspired by my art… My perspective and output of art is mathematical and inspired by personal, as well as external sources. My artwork is a bit more objective where as my music is more intimate. I get personal. It’s almost uncomfortable to hear my songs because I feel like they are so incredibly vulnerable. But I have to remind myself to stand behind vulnerability and see it as an asset, not a weakness. So what I’m saying is I feel that of course the two are intertwined but for me music is my loyal wife and art is my intellectual mistress.
RM: When you are in between musical projects, what do you do?
TW: There used to be a time when the downtime just killed me and I didn’t like the lulls but now I’ve been on a long hiatus and I’m just getting back into recording and writing. I have a lot of different interests of course… I love movies, books, travel, running, swimming, hiking, the outdoors in general and I’m a big dog person.
RM: How does NYC influence you and your music?
TW: NYC, more than any city I’ve ever visited, embraces the odd and ugly and seemingly unbearable and obnoxious. The music scene in NY is so diverse, it allows for complete freedom to experiment and find your individual voice.
RM: How would you define “success” for you in the music industry?
TW: By industry standards I can say I have not been and will never be successful. I believe the industry feeds off all artists though and we are all a part of the industry, signed or unsigned. We are creating and redefining the structure of this industry whether we are acknowledged for it or not. Just like the miners are mining the diamonds but the jewelers sell the diamond for the big money… Someone is always going to get a bigger share of the pie. I don’t eat pie anymore and I’m eating what makes me feel good. I’m feeling true and good, and that is my definition of success in this industry.
Here is “Battle Royale Act 808” by Thailan: