อินสไปเรทีฟ Inspirative: The interview
Noise Artists (NA): Where are you from in Thailand? It is stated Bangkok on your bio. Are you all from there?
Yes, inspirative is a Bangkok-based band. All members live and work here, but came from difference places. Especially the current drummers “Ginn San”, he came from Japan.
NA: What did you study?
Noppanan (guitar) - Science, Amornthep (bass) - Photography, Nattanai (guitar) - Architecture, Wuttipong (keyboard) - Film, Ginn (drums) - Law. Variety, isn’t it? haha.
NA:: What is your day job at present if any?
Noppanan - IT consultant, Amornthep - Creative producer, Nattanai - Architect, Wuttipong - TV program producer, Ginn - Business consultant. Variety!!!!!!!
NA: Do you have families?
Almost no :)
NA: Do you dream to live from your music or is it a passion you do not want to spend your full time on?
Yes, it will be great if we ccould do it fulltime. But you know, with this genre of music, it’s quite hard to do. So, if we spend fulltime on, we have to think a lot in order to make sufficient money rather than just do it part time. I don’t know, if we were in that state, we will be happy or too serious to create music as we want to. Anyway, we’re still looking forward and maybe we will be lucky.
NA: Can you tell me the inspiration behind your band? You can detect the influences of post-rock, with more subtle hints of Mono-like and sometimes ambient feelings. Can you tell us more?
The most inspiration may be Sigur Ros. It started about ten years ago when I (Noppanan) listened to a Sigur Ros CD in my friend’s car. That’s very impressive, then I started digging into this genre. Several months ago, I started the Inspirative project to do something in post-rock. However, in term of post-rock, we don’t worry about how people call us a post-rock band or not.
NA: Was there a vision of sorts or did you know what you wanted to do when you started up? i.e. when you started in Inspirative was it always a project to create a post-rock/ambient? Or was it different from now?
Inspirative has begun with post-rock influencesd in mind (as mention above). After that, we put the word post-rock in the back of our mind. We just create music around the genre but do not worry if it will be post-rock or not. It’s just a category.
NA: Do you have any other musical side projects apart from Inspirative?
Actually no. But some members used to have side projects a long time ago. Such as Noppanan had an ambient project “Military Parachutes”, Wuttipong had a shoegaze project “Laundry Submarine”. Ginn used to run a math rock band called “Aire”. Anyway, all projects have gone already hahaha.
The Creative process
NA: Who writes the song and the music and how do you get to the final song? Is it a community process, do you have leaders in composing or arranging music?
The songs are composed in various ways. Some songs started from a small part of someone’s melody or groove, and then composed to a song. Some songs are written completely by one person and then arranged up to a song.
I am the leader in composing/arranging the music. All songs are mainly composed and arranged by me. I do a demo, complete up to 60-80%, and share it to all members to discuss and review. Many times the song needs to be re-arranged and reviewed again until everyone says OK. Then, we meet in the practice room to try it out, and often re-arrange it again and again :P.
All songs that have lyrics will be written by the vocalist, Wuttipong, because we think the singer should sing what he writes. Then I will discuss with him to go on composing and do the reviewing loop.
We don’t like composing during jam sessions. We thought our songs need a lot of discussion in concept and structures. We used to try jamming, the result was not so good :(
NA: Do you listen to the advice of your band mates? What would you do if they said a song was shit but you liked it?
We discuss so much for each song. All members have the right to comment and request for changes. Sometimes we have a conflict with other members, so we have to debate. We used to debate for one month long on the track “Time Tunnel”, it’s so tiring hahaha. If the song has to be changed, it will be. If the song has to be dropped, it will be also. Every song must be agreed by all members. We want to be happy with the songs we play you know.
NA: There’s a degree of unconventional songwriting with you guys. Was it kind of intimidating going to record knowing people might not be engaging with the songs in terms of hooks and such and trying to deliver an engaging sound on record?
We do not worry about expectation of people (because they have no expectation on us anyway hahaha). We just focus on what we want to do in our music.
NA: Your music is happy. There do not seem to be much of a dark side in your songwriting. Is it something that is important in your music and in what you want to convey to your listeners?
In the same song, some people are feeling dark, some are feeling happy. You’re lucky to feel happy with my songs, cheers!
NA: When I listen to your music I feel forests and countryside with vast grassy plains. Am I mad or is it a feeling that is included in your songwriting.
No, you’re not mad. It’s the result of mixing of your experience and our songs.
NA: In United Asia’s interview you said:
“Well, we’re heavily influenced by the post-rock scene of the 2000’s with bands like Sigur Ros, Mono, Mum, etc. The reason we have kept it instrumental is that it really works for this genre and personally, I think when it is completely musical, it is much more powerful than I could have ever imagined. I always thought that music with lyrics has more power, but with this medium of music, the band is no longer leading a listener down a certain way of thinking. With instrumental music, the listener is given more space to think and imagine. And all of these thoughts and imaginations are all based on their own experiences in life. The result is a mix of the listener’s own personal journey and thoughts conjured by the composer’s music and message.
When I compose music, I do have a message in the songs but it’s usually a very open-ended question which the listener will be able to answer themselves through their connections or thoughts as they’re hearing the music.”
It is very well put and understandable. Could you elaborate a bit?
It’s why you feel the forests and countryside :D
NA: Unlike most post-rock bands, you include a voice in some song. Personally, I love it as a voice is a beautiful texture that can really bring a song together. It is another instrument. Plus the singer’s voice is beautiful and goes very well with the music. Why did you do this artistic choice?
Two reasons: firstly human voice makes a friendly connection between the band and listeners. We just want people to connect more with our songs while maintaining the main concept of the band as an instrumental band.
Secondly, some songs we have explicit messages that should be put in words rather than only instrumental music.
NA: On Mysteriously Awake you are talking about a disorder called sleep paralysis, called in Thailand Phee Um. Can you tell me more as for how it became the title, and how this inspired the music?
It started from when I was sitting in front of my computer to compose a track “Why”. At that time, the track has not named yet and I was thinking about its name. Then I fell asleep, and in my sleep, there’s a male voice saying close to my left ear “Try to count one to seven”. I suddenly woke up and wonder about that man. Who are you? Why did you tell me about one to seven? (After that we decided to make the album has 7 tracks).
The band members thought the story has some interesting content. It’s something like “Phee Um” or sleep paralysis. We researched deep into 2 parts, science and ghost to create the album. The songs in the album represent atmosphere and feeling during you get sleep paralysis, ghost stories, strange dreams, and romantic sci-fi.
When you’re getting sleep paralysis, you may be in half awake half sleep state. Or sometimes you awake with some strange mind state that you don’t familiar with. So, we named the album “Mysteriously Awake”.
NA: Talking about the lyrics: who write them? Is there a common thread in them, a theme?
The singer (Wuttipong) will write the lyrics by himself. Stories or messages may come from other members. We always discuss messages or theme before the writing of the lyrics starts.
NA: Do you labor over your lyrics? Is that something that comes easy?
No, lyrics are always hard for us to write. Write hard, review harder. :D
NA: Has the increasing popularity of the band affected the way that you write songs or think about how you’re making them?
We just make it better step by step. We believe that we should direct the music by ourselves, it will be better.
NA: Did your listening habits change between album? Do you change what you listen to, and does it affect what you write?
Sure, my listening changes all the time and it directly affects to what I compose. So, sometimes I have to limit my listening in order to avoid too much influence.
NA: Tell me more about the following songs, how they were written, what they are about, any anecdote or story you want to share:
This song has no explicit message. It’s just an atmosphere before raining, the smell of rain, dark cloud and trees. It’s the color of tropical rain.
· Felicity is out there
It’s about childhood memories. When I was young, I always went out side with my friends, riding bicycles around the town. That’s a happy time in my life. So, remember that if you suffer, just go outside, happiness is all around.
Atonia is a state of the brain while sleeping. When you sleep, your brain will turn off physical movements of your body to save you from unpredictable move while you’re dreaming. When you wake up the brain will turn on movement, your body is able to move again. If some mistake happens, and your brain do not turn on movement when you wake up, You would be stuck in atonia state. That’s called sleep paralysis.
· He’s gazing you from the black mirror
It’s about self-watching. Sometimes I stop thinking and look into myself. Who am I? What I’m doing here? Where do I go after death? The song’s name came from when I shut down my computer and look into the shutdown LCD display. I saw myself in the black LCD mirror was watching me.
NA: Apologies for the following question, that has certainly been asked many times: The cover of you last LP has a tied, naked vulnerable girl on it. It may be viewed as offensive at first glance. What is the message you want to carry out with this imagery? Also did it not pose a problem for Japan, as pubic hair are considered pornography?
Well, it’s an artwork from my friend “Todd”. He’s a graphic artist. I asked him to design the cover in the theme “Phee Um” or sleep paralysis. He explained that the image represents the feeling of a girl that’s getting sleep paralysis. She can’t move, feels like fastening by rope. She tries to wake up, her head can move a little (see the overlap color layer on her hair). It seems violent at first sight. Fans then told me that the CD/LP cover affected some people that have experienced kidnaping. I apologize for that matter.
NA: Have you ever played or work with Desktop Error (Noise Artists of the month for April 2017)?
We have played with them on the same stage, but not worked with them.
The path to music
NA: Is it easy to find producers and studios in Thailand for indie-rock?
Yes, I think it’s quite easy to find producers.
NA: Your recorded sound is very good, which is not easy. Did you engineer the sound yourself, or did you have a sound engineer with you? If yes could you tell us more about him/her?
I recorded by myself, mixing and mastering also. By the way, I have a sound engineer that takes care for live sound only.
NA: Was it a community work to try to have the best sounding music possible or mainly driven by the sound engineer or by the band?
I take care of the sound in most part of the studio album. When performing a live concert, I’ll discuss with my sound engineer about how the sound should be produced.
NA: Can you tell us how the recording process was?
My process is a semi-homemade process. I recorded drums first. I prepared a track guide for the drummer and went to a recording studio. Then we mixed draft version of drums and went to a home studio. In the home studio, I play back the drums track and record other instruments. This process can save costs on the recording studio. We can record and do take as long as we want. You can see the process in “Why” music video.
NA: Could you let us know some important technical tricks you learned during the process that could help other musicians not as experienced?
Youtube is your best friend.
NA: How did the recording work differ between the 3 albums/EP?
The process is the same. But usually, we do not use real drums recording in EP, we use drums sampling instead. In full album, we record real drums in a standard recording studio.
NA: Is the recording material yours when you are out of a studio or do you borrow/rent it?
I bought them all hahaha. Except for the vocal mic, I borrowed from my friend.
NA: Any interesting anecdotes on some recording session you would like to share?
There’s an interesting and fun process when we recorded and composeed “When We Talk” track. We did something like a blind date. We defined rules about key, time signature and tempo. For example Key F, time sig.4/4, tempo 100bpm. Each member recorded by himself individually and did not share with anyone. Ambient record or play instruments or do anything that has sound and corresponds to the rules. Then everyone sent the sound files to me, I tried to mix them to be a song. That was very fun. We did this concept again for all tracks in the EP “When We Talk”.
NA: Tell us what you are looking when trying to achieve your sounds? Do you experiment a lot or have a clear idea of what you want?
We experiment a lot.
NA: Who is the more knowledgeable with pedals? You use them a lot, to great effect.
For this band, it’s me.
NA: How many concerts a year would you do on average and what would be the size of the venue?
Around 20 shows a year. Most are small to medium gigs with an audience of around 100-300 . And there's some festival that may be up to a 1000.
NA: Would you mind sharing some good anecdotes from your touring?
Our favorite tour was the China tour 2016. The first time we went to China and that was a great experience. The venue, live-house, staffs, and audience impressed us a lot. Chinese food is impressive also hahaha. You know Chinese food is one of the best on this planet.
NA: What are some places around the world that you hope to take your band?
We’d like to join some good festival around the world such as Coachella, T in the park, Summer Sonics, ArcTanGent, etc.
NA: Is there any reason in particular that you want to go to these places? Is there something about indie-rock/post-rock in those places that makes you want to go there?
We Just love those festivals. We were in audience for many years, it would be good to be there as performers
The Thai music Scene
NA: I have read that Thailand has a great music scene but I don’t know much about post-rock or indie-rock music in Thailand. Could you tell me more on the Thai music scene?
I think the Thai music scene was not so great, we had many problems here. But it’s not so bad anymore. Indie-rock or post-rock bands have limited opportunities here. There are only a small limited audience.
NA: Has the scene changed since you began, and if so how?
The scene has changed. Now there are many good people in the new generation coming up such as bands, sound engineers, music organizers. They create good songs, good music events. It has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years. Most indie music events were just like a party rather than a music gig. Today they take more focus on music quality not only a party event. This is good for the both bands and the audience. By the way, this big step is on the indie scene but for more mainstream. For others I think it’s quite the same as the last 10 years.
NA: Apart from Bangkok, is there any other cities with a strong indie scene?
Chiangmai. There are some good local labels around there.
NA: Is there any Thai band(s) you want to recommend in the indie/shoegaze/post-rock genres?
IMO, Desktop Error (Editor's note: our Noise Artists of April 2017) is the best indie band in Thailand.
NA: Do you have a record label. What is your status now? Are you auto producing yourselves?
We have no label.
NA: How did the funding work for the 3 albums/EP? Did you invest a lot yourself? Was your label supportive in that respect?
We always invest by ourselves.
NA: Where does the majority of the money go when you’re paying your own way?
Mostly it goes to music production and merchandise.
NA: Do you make a decent revenue from your music or is it still very much a hobby?
It’s still a very very much hobby
NA: How do you sell your recordings apart from Bandcamp (shops, online, …)?
We sell it online, mainly on Facebook.
NA: What is the next album due?
The end of this year (that’s what we expect. hahaha)
NA: Any other project (ie movies soundtrack, …) or plans
We have no other project plans for now
NA: Do you plan to continue music for a long time or are you tired of it?
As long as I’m strong enough to turn on my pedal foot switch