This interview with Phum Viphurit gets “very existential”

This interview with Phum Viphurit gets “very existential”

In the music video of “Hello, Anxiety,” Phum Viphurit’s first track of 2019, we see him dancing in sync with the crowd. Although the steps are simple and rehearsed, Phum’s tallish stature makes his dancing seem a bit awkward. The song gradually ends in harmony with Phum freeing himself from everyone, and eventually heading out of the dance floor.

But just as when we thought the MV has already finished, with Phum now alone in a completely silent atmosphere, the song’s funky strumming starts again, and the Lover Boy of the indie music scene spins and does some dancing—now random and carefree, probably following his gut.

Read also: Phum Viphurit’s “Hello, Anxiety” embodies our emotional breakdowns

This, I think, outlines what it’s like to listen to the 23-year-old Thai artist. With his well-timed bass lines and infectious hooks, every listener would want to share his music with everyone. At the same time, it’s the type of music you’d want your truest self to own. Phum Viphurit’s distinct deep vocals, nostalgic video executions, fresh take on genres (folk, pop, neo soul, funk, and more), and overall charming approach have scored him countless fans from around the world—it’s difficult to love Phum Viphurit just moderately.

Read also: Summer Noise 2018 will have Japanese Breakfast, Turnover, Phum Viphurit, and more

If his songs were a place, it would be the breeziest and sunniest, an escape from a world that dodges us with worries. It would be home.

Before he flies back for Summer Noise in May, we got to chat with him about his vast fanbase, being young, and what the future holds.

Photography by Keaidkumchai Tongpai

How are you right now? Anything you’re currently working on that you can share with us?
I’ve been good! I’m currently resting a lot at home and working on my next collection of music, I don’t want to give too much away about it yet.

You were born in Thailand but grew up mostly in New Zealand. Can you describe the music scene in both countries? Do you find your music a combination of these two scenes?
There is a strong indie music scene in both countries, I would say. Thailand, especially Bangkok, is a scene that never sleeps; there’s always a gig happening somewhere. Since I haven’t been back to NZ for a while, I do not know how lively it is at this moment, but I assume it’s going strong. In terms of music itself, Thailand is still dominated by bigger labels or artists whose music is strictly in Thai, although there has been a real refreshing uprising in Thai hiphop lately. It’s an exciting time to be based here, making the music that I am making.

Photography by Keaidkumchai Tongpai

If you can associate your sound with three films, what are these?
This is incredibly hard. Moonrise Kingdom, Little Miss Sunshine, and Requiem For A Dream.

I, myself, am a fan of your music. You surely have solid fanbases all over the world now, from Asia to America. Do you still get pretty overwhelmed with this situation?
Thank you and yes, I am constantly overwhelmed. I have been making music with an independent label for about three to four years before the international audience really paid attention to my content. Before then, I had very distant dreams of touring abroad [which] I had planned to do so in eight to 10 years time, but when the opportunities came pouring in last year, I took the chance and went out to see the world. Although I am super grateful for it all, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I am overwhelmed on a daily basis by all of it.

Although I am super grateful for it all, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I am overwhelmed on a daily basis by all of it.

Can you mention any of your favorite moments with fans? 
I have countless memories with fans; it’s hard to single out any. But if I had to choose a moment that I don’t get to share a lot, it’d probably be a smaller show I did in Luzern, Switzerland during my EU tour last year. After the show, I went outside for some air and got to talk to a group of young Swiss fans who shared their hummus and rice crackers with me. It was surreal to discover how they found out about my music from so far away. At the end of it, I exchanged my favorite windbreaker with one of them. It was just super chill.

Photography by Keaidkumchai Tongpai

You’re still young, but we’d like to think your music has already broken boundaries. Does this make you scared or excited about the future?
At first I was really scared, like I said before, it all came in a very sudden wave, which made me think that it may pass really fast too. But after a lot of time with myself, I really, really just appreciate the opportunity to be myself out there. To be able to share tunes, as imperfect or strange or unorthodox as they may be, is a gift.

There was a time when I felt like people were stuck with my image rather than my music, which stressed [me] out a little bit to be honest. So from now on, I really just want to put my heart and soul into this craft that I have made into a career.

There was a time when I felt like people were stuck with my image rather than my music, which stressed [me] out a little bit to be honest. So from now on, I really just want to put my heart and soul into this craft that I have made into a career.

Phum Viphurit in All of the Noise 2018. Photography by Aaron Silao

You used to play drums, right? Can you tell us a story about it? Why did you stop, and do you plan to go back to it?
I did and still do! I stopped for a bit when my it got too loud and annoying for my Kiwi neighbours. But whenever I’m at band practice, I always hop on the drums first. I think it’s the basis in which I write my music. I always think about rhythmic patterns before the melodic stuff comes, which I credit to the drum kit.

Your latest single, “Hello, Anxiety” feels like a very personal take of a less sunny side of yourself, which your fans appreciate very much. What’s your take on vulnerability when writing songs? Do you think it’s a required element for songwriters to be able to make an effective song?
For me, I wasn’t really thinking about the outcome. It was written out of this feeling that I knew I had for a while and it felt like I couldn’t communicate it out with anyone. I’m actually very shy and soft-spoken, I dread having to let others carry whatever load I am carrying.


I saw the track as an honest expression of myself and what I’ve been going through. I’m really grateful that people can relate to it and find ease in the track as it was necessary for me to let it out, to be honest as a songwriter.

You entered film school. Would you like to pursue film more someday?
Yes, definitely. I may have been taking a break from it since my graduation, but it is something that I aim to pursue.

You performed for your Filipino fans last November in All of the Noise and will be playing again for Summer Noise. What are you looking forward to this time?
The crowd and just the overwhelmingly good vibes. It really just made me feel at home. I just want to bring a lot of energy and love again and watch or feel it around the concert hall. It’s going to be a good time no matter what.

Phum Viphurit in All of the Noise 2018. Photography by Aaron Silao

Aside from being a soulful, sunny musician, how would you like to be remembered for?
Oh wow, getting very existential. I would say, remember me as an individual who pursued his dreams, nothing less, nothing more.

Lastly, what do you want your fans to remember whenever they listen to a Phum Viphurit song?
I write from a real strong sense of nostalgia, whether the song presents a happy or sad or even sappy mood. I would say again, that I hope you find a bit of yourself in the music, I hope it makes you think of the colourful memories of your own lives, I hope it creates a sense of ease and comfort and maybe a little grin or smile.

Photography by Aaron Silao and Keaidkumchai Tongpaiand, courtesy of Phum Viphurit

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Jelou Galang
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