By Ben Boddez
As Phum Viphurit prepares to embark on his biggest North American tour of his career, the Thai singer-songwriter reflects on the surreal nature of being seen as a representative face for his nation.
“It is a beautiful thing to see music is truly becoming borderless,” Viphurit says while on tour in Japan. “There’s been a wave of Asian artists lately touring more in the West. I hope more Thai folk get to tour there.”
Viphurit’s sound features trendy neo-soul instrumentals, but his refreshing vocal delivery has the gravitas and conviction of an old-school crooner. He credits many childhood hours listening to his mother’s CD collection for instilling a love of classic pop music in him.
“I gravitate towards jazzy chords and croons more as they give off a calming vibe,” he says. “Lately, I’ve been mostly into disco and Motown. I think it will be reflected in my coming songs.”
He knew he wanted to get into the music business from a young age, even landing jobs catering concerts and working as a tour guide so he could get closer to his favourite artists when they visited Thailand—and succeeded with personal heroes like Mac DeMarco and Blood Orange.
“I’ve always been drawn to the creative world of things ever since I was young,” he says. “I think being surrounded by artists who make works with such authenticity has definitely inspired me to find my own path in this crazy competitive, yet rewarding, world.”
Viphurit says he also wants to try incorporating some more traditional sounds from Thailand into his new material after spending more time at home recently.
“I feel that I am subconsciously influenced by my surroundings lately, seeing the local spots of Bangkok and rural Thailand a lot more. I’m interested in finding out how that affects my musical journey,” he says.
“Hello, Anxiety,” the latest single from his upcoming project, deals with some heavy subject matter, but highly personal lyrics are nothing new to Viphurit. Even so, he finds a way to put a positive spin on tackling his demons.
“No matter how dark the contents of my personal life may get, I will always try to find an optimistic approach. The world doesn’t need any more negativity, and especially if you have a choice, choose to uplift and lighten.”
Phum Viphurit performs with Joji Friday, September 13 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in VancouverPhum Viphurit