A LOOK at Yellow Fang’s discography may shock you. With the exception of 2008’s EP Yuk Keaw, the band has only had one album to its name since its formation 10 years ago. But to music lovers who have heard the dreamy yet edgy indie rock riffs of this Bangkok-based band, The Greatest, released in 2014, is solid proof of the their continuing legacy as the darlings of Thailand’s indie music scene.
Pimporn Metchanun (Pang), Piyamas Muenprasartdee (Pym) and Praewa Chirapravati Na Ayudhya make up Yellow Fang, an all-girl group who are brutally honest and refreshingly humble about their slow-steady rise in the scene. Despite having to hold down full-time jobs back home, the trio often jets off to various venues in Asia to play for crowds hungry for their infectious 1990s-inspired, shoegazing melodies.
Their next destination is Kuala Lumpur. On May 20, Yellow Fang will once again hypnotise audiences with their craft at our annual creative arts festival, Urbanscapes.
MUSIC MADE EASY
“Music lover is a term we’re more comfortable with,” agree the members of Yellow Fang, who don’t consider themselves professional musicians. “The word implies that you don’t need to be a professional or a connoisseur to play music and it doesn’t have to be so serious or off-limits for everyone except for the gifted,” they add.
“Gifted” is a word they coyly do away with when talking about themselves. “I don’t really know how to play the guitar,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Pang, in an interview with Malaysian indie music website The Wknd. Her band member Pym quickly interjects with a chuckle: “Yes, if you compare yourself to Axel Rose or Jimmy Hendrix, sure.”
Playing music as a band started out as a hobby for them and despite their success, it remains so. “We never expected it to come this far and we’re always surprised how far it has reached!” they say in reference to their first few gigs in 2007. But The Greatest, which included a broader repertoire of instruments and sounds, was deemed “delightfully catchy” by Daniel Peters of independent music portal Bandwagon Asia.
Even with plenty of material, it took Yellow Fang six years to complete everything. The girls never had a set time for practise or the luxury of being able to arrange recording sessions because of their full-time jobs. Pang, who organises Have You Heard, a music event which brings acts such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Mac Demarco to Bangkok, is also a fashion-buyer by profession.
Meanwhile, Pym spends most of her time in Smitheries, her jewellery studio where she crafts and teaches silver-smithing. The youngest of the lot, Praewa, is a body art specialist and DJ who lends her voice to jingles from time to time.
Music, concurs the members... gives us the chance to experience the world in a way that money could never buy,” adding that their full-time jobs are also a very big part of their lives.
Their full-time jobs are also a reflection of their other passion — fashion. All three were students at Chulalongkorn University. “We were course mates studying in the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts where we majored in Fashion Design,” they share as they relate the story of how they first met in the early 2000s.
It was their mutual interest in music that brought them together and before long, the trio started playing for faculty events. “We like playing music and singing. Every once in a while there would be a party at our faculty and they’d rent nice equipment, so we’d go up with friends, jam with our friends who were also in the same faculty,” they recall with a smile, pointing out that being in Yellow Fang now brings them back to those happy, carefree university days.
The girls cite rock bands Joy Division, Nirvana, Electrelane and The White Stripes as some of their biggest influences, sheepishly adding that Brit “Girl Power” group, Spice Girls, should also be included in the list.
After years of playing at parties, they decided to form a real band and went for music lessons. “People are not very surprised when they find out we don’t earn a living from playing music or performing, especially if they are familiar with the independent music scene,” explains Yellow Fang, adding: “As long as we’re happy with what we do, still have our jobs, don’t lose weight or look overly tired, our parents are cool with us juggling both careers. Plus, we don’t actually live that whole rock n roll lifestyle thing, so there’s nothing much to worry about.”
ART FOR ALL
“What I love about Yellow Fang is the way they very naturally blend 1990s alternative rock and shoegaze guitar sounds with poppy rhythms and Thai sensibility,” says Daniel Robson of It Came From Japan, a music agency.
Robson’s sentiments are shared by music critics and festival organisers who have been booking the band for gigs, both big and small around the region. This may be surprising considering Yellow Fang’s song are all sung in their native Thai tongue, something the band feels is not a barrier.
In fact, it has worked in Yellow Fang’s favour as international audiences who don’t understand Thai relate to their melodies instead. “Melodies can steer the mood of the music strongly enough; just music can paint a clear picture of what the story is about,” they say, in reference to their focus on catchy melodies and cool riffs.
Though they don’t have a record label or manager behind them, the members are contented with the way things are. With over 47,000 followers on social media and gigs booked throughout the year, both internationally and in some of Bangkok’s most notable independent music venues, Yellow Fang feel the burgeoning scene is a reflection of the appreciation for good, diverse music.
“We have a fair amount of listeners of many cultures and languages. It tells us that music has no language. That gives us hope that there is a place of peace through music and we’re just so fortunate to be part of it.”
For Yellow Fang, the core of their happiness does not come from fame but in the joy of being able to do what they love. “We play because it makes us happy,” they reveal. “Independent music has its honesty, individuality and freedom. Most of all, we believe good music is a real treat and medicine for humanity.”
Levi’s presents: 501 Rock 7 Rivets: Yellow Fang
WHERE KL Live at Life Centre, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur