As a Hip-Hop DJ my life in Thailand started out in a very different way than you might expect.. Although I had been DJing, at the turn of the millennium my main source of income came from a small, London-based ad agency (or ’boutique agency’ as they’re now known!). However, I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the whole concept of ’selling things’ - I felt that an ad agencies main purpose was to create greed, make people feel as if their lives weren’t fulfilled without so-and-sos product. As I’d had a very keen interest in meditation and Buddhism I decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of London life, continue my interests in Buddhism and become a monk in Thailand! In September 2001 I left the UK and headed for Bangkok.
My original flight was a Thai Air flight (number 911) on the 11th of September 2001.. oddly enough I had to cancel my flight a few days before to attend a friend’s funeral, so I didn’t actually end up flying on that fateful day. I left two weeks later, and the flight number? Yup, still 911!!! We managed to avoid being hijacked and landed safely in the Thai capital, and two days later I went to the temple to start my stay. Over the next 2-3months I was lucky enough to travel extensively with the other monks from the temple throughout Isaan, stopping of at many breathtaking Wats and points of interest that I imagine very few foreigners (or even Bangkokians) have had the chance to see.
As Christmas approached my younger brother, Woodie, came to Thailand to travel and so I left the temple and joined him to visit Laos and the islands in the South. We spent Christmas on Koh Samui and then headed over to Koh Phangan and finally Koh Tao, where I would then stay for 2 years and become a PADI Scuba-diving Instructor! Koh Tao became my base in Thailand, I made some amazing friends there and ended up getting a tattoo of a ‘Tao’ (turtle) with the letters K.T.C written in Thai below, which stands for Koh Tao Commando (that’s another story!). The early mornings and relentless work schedule of teaching diving took it’s toll on me and by 2002 I decided too get back to what’s dominated most of my life so far: MUSIC!
In the summer of 2002 I flew back to the UK and stuffed as many records as I could into 2 huge boxes and booked a flight back to Bangkok, praying the person at the check-in counter wouldn’t notice how massively overweight my luggage was (88kgs, waaaaay over the 25kg limit) - SARS was breaking out at that time and I was the least of their worries, so I managed to sneak my records on. After arriving back in Bangkok I started handing out my demo CD to pretty much any club that might give me a job.. nothing much turned up except some interest from Bed Supperclub, but no job offer. So I headed back to my favorite little Island - Koh Tao. I spent the best part of a year there DJing at some of the islands top venues (Dragon Bar, Whitening and Venus Park mainly). The strangest thing was that I was pretty much the only Hip Hop DJ there! For some reason most people associate the islands with Trance and House - so although it took some time, I managed to create a pretty good niche for myself and had some really great nights that I’ll never forget, most notably would’ve been Dragon Bar - at 1am my set ended in a mini riot as we had to close and the crowd wouldn’t leave, so I had to go and hide in the kitchen so they’d know there would be no more music!
After a year DJing and promoting gigs there I thought I’d try my luck in Bangkok again. And again went around the same clubs giving out demo CDs (I don’t think the club owners even listened to the first one!) - and finally got a break as a warm-up to the warm-up DJ at Bed Supperclub. I wasn’t paid and had to buy my own drinks, but at that time Tuesday nights were probably the best night at any club in Thailand. Hip Hop was just beginning to explode and as RCA was still playing Trance and Techno; there wasn’t really anywhere to party to Hip Hop apart from a couple of places (most notably Sukhumvit’s ‘Bed Supperclub’ and ‘Q Bar’ and Silom’s ‘Speed’). After a few months I was on the payroll at Bed and started getting gigs all over Bangkok, and in the next year alone I’d played at a pretty extensive selection of clubs and bars: Bed, Q Bar, The Met, V9, Slim, Glow, Bangkok Bar, The Club, Escudo, Mystique, Code, Nang Len, Tsukiyo and many, many more. I was also getting booked to DJ for special events and fashion shows (which were always weird) - the craziest was probably DJing for Korean superstar ‘Rain’ for his ‘after-show-party’ at Amaze. I didn’t even know who he was before I did the gig but he was up on stage dancing next to me and my friend says “d’you know who that is!!?? he’s pretty much THE biggest Asian superstar!!” - then later when I met him properly I was a bit drunk and dropped a beer on his foot! Very clever.
So I’m still lucky enough to be DJing at some great clubs and have residencies at: Q Bar (every Wednesday night), Bed Supperclub (some Thursdays and every Friday night), Superfly (every Saturday night). My DJ style is critised by some Hip-Hop heads for not being pure Hip-Hop, it’s an odd critism for me because the original Hip-Hop DJs would throw in anything and everything into their sets to surprise and rock the crowd. Now it seems if you try and do that some people think “that’s not Hip Hop!”. But either way, if you come and see me DJ I’m gonna try and surprise you and get you dancing to something you never expected to hear, because there’s enough people playing the same-old-same-old sh*t - I’m trying to do something a little bit different, and hopefully it’s working!!
DJ Octo is a part owner of Tsukiyo (Ekkamai soi 12) and also currently composing the soundtrack for ‘The 8th Day’ a Thai independent movie.
BK Magazine awarded DJ Octo with ‘Favorite DJ’ in the 2007 ‘Readers’ Choice’ Awards.