Veteran indie fans may recognize the name Ginn Sentaro, a Japanese musician who’s been a solid force in the Thai underground scene for more than a decade. Despite the obvious language barrier in the beginning, Ginn-san used his music as a medium. It’s this passion that led him to becoming an established indie artist in Thailand.
Aside from having his own band, Ginn-san is also involved in a side project called ‘dessin the world.’ Aimed at connecting and promoting Thai and Japanese indie scenes, the project is a cultural exchange of sorts between the two countries. EQ sat down with the guy behind it all as he talked about his beginning, inspiration, and what it’s like to be an indie artist in Thailand, of all places.
From salaryman to full-time musician
“I’m actually working full-time as well as playing music. I’m taking care of three different things at the moment — my own band, my day-time job, and this other project called ‘dessin the world.’ I have to have a full-time job because I’m aware that playing music alone won’t bring in a lot of income. Also, the fact that my music is not pop music, not necessarily mainstream, I really feel the need to have a secure job in addition to my music career. That’s why I chose to go on this path.”
What’s the difference between Thai and Japanese indie scene, if any?
“There are both differences and similarities. We’re similar in terms of our music skills and how diverse the scene is. What differs, though, is the fact that in Thailand, there’s not so many ‘live houses’ or a space where you can go and play music. In Thailand, there are pubs and bars, of course, but those are typically for people to go enjoy themselves, not for small bands to play a gig. In Japan, we have a lot of live houses, spanning different genres from hardcore, pop, and rock. Even if the bands are unknown, they still have a place to go perform.”
What’s the inspiration behind your songwriting?
“For us Japanese, when we write songs, we often say ‘song falls from the sky.’ This means that we improvise everything right in the moment. We do it in the studio so that our bandmates can hear it and give their feedback right away. The word ‘fall’ refers to the process of adding sound and music, eventually turning it into a proper song. My personal favorite is the one called ‘Rhino.’ I find it very interesting because each member has their hand in it. We give it our all when we play it live. Because it’s such a fun song to perform, it’s also my favourite.”
Tell us about the project ‘dessin the world’
“The word ‘dessin’ in French means ‘drawing.’ I want to create a new world, a kind of black and white platform where artists and the listener can come together to connect with one another. The project acts like a liaison between everyone. Since 2010, there have been a lot of projects that I got involved with. I helped Thai artists like Stamp Apiwat and Singto Numchoke distribute their albums in Japan. I also helped SAFEPLANET so that they could play at a music festival in Fukuoka. I did some translation as well, translating Thai lyrics to Japanese and vice versa. And since I’m friends with Cat Radio, I also help bring Japanese bands to play at Cat Expo.”
What’s the most challenging thing about having a band in Thailand?
“The language is pretty difficult, but getting into the industry is the most challenging thing for us. We had to recruit bandmates, find gigs and recording studios, and promote our music. Each step is a real challenge in itself. Actually, if you manage to get into the industry, the rest is not so much of a hassle. We’ve been in three different bands so far. The first one was all Japanese members. The second band, ‘aire’, we had two Japanese members and one Thai. As for our current band, we have the bassist and guitarist from ‘aire’ join us as well.”
Any advice for those aspiring to become a musician?
“As someone who used to work full-time and play in a band, I can assure you that it’s possible to do both at the same time. The main thing is that you will need to manage your time properly. I worked Monday to Friday and I still managed to find the time to go to rehearsals every day. Find your passion, work up your courage, manage your time, and write songs that grab people’s attention. If you can do these things, you’re well on your way.”
Do you have any plans for the band this year?
“I’d like to tour overseas. I want to go to Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand also. These three countries have a pretty big indie market, and, If covid is no longer an issue, I’d like to make that happen. For now, I want to thank our fans for always supporting us. We actually have a lot of projects under dessin the world, and it’d be cool if Thai people give Japanese music a try. You can start from the genre and the artists you like and go from there.”
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