We had the good fortune of connecting with Kengchakaj Kengkarnka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kengchakaj, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I believe it is a calling for me; I recall having this urge to create something since I was a kid. Moments that, I discovered some new melodies on the piano and figured things out on my own outside of a piano lesson. My mom told me she wouldn’t want me to go to kitchen ware store with her because I would go into the store hand drumming and making rhythm on kitchenware, plate, and breakable things. Drawing and creating visual art were also a big part of my growing up.
A big part is that both of my parents are in the artistic and creative fields, both designers. They also have an extensive collection of every genre of music. I started to take an interest in jazz from their jazz collection, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaugh, Ella Fitgerald, etc.
For me, music is not only about innovation or art; it can be a powerful medium for gathering people, bringing people together, asking questions, and creating agency for minority communities. And that is why I am pursuing this career.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have recently been working on expanding the sound palette, improvisational language, and social context of my creative music work. I have been researching traditional music, tuning systems, and historical context from Southeast Asia, where I am from, specifically Thailand. I have also been exploring the world of electronic and electroacoustic music. Creating my own sound and texture. I have become more interested in using those sounds as a texture and a way to convey a meaningful narrative, to re-sound those who have not been heard. My goal would be to incorporate those elements into developing my creative music and improvisational language.
It is not an easy task, and for me, there are not a lot of case studies to learn from. However, I think it will be worth pursuing this path, and hopefully, one day, I can confidently say that this is what sets me apart from others. Primarily, this makes me excited to learn every day and keep pushing the way I play music and produce music.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For me, hand down to The Jazz Gallery. The Jazz Gallery is where I hang out the most; it is also where I work as a production manager. The Jazz Gallery is a non-profit organization aiming to be a nurturing space for younger emerging artists.
For food, maybe Wondee Siam, Playground, Rolos, Winson, etc.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first shoutout is to my parents, Kung and Jo. Without them, I would not have pursued this path.
Those who believe in me and keep me going when I’m in doubt. Friends and collaborators, Sitintip, Nolan Byrd, Alfredo Colon, Rose Stoller, Arta Jēkabsone, Teerapat Parnmongkol, Lucie Vitkova, Aya Ishida, Julphan, Caroline Davis, Chien Chien Lu, Yuma Uesaka, and many more. Mentors and inspiration, Rio Sakairi, Jen Shyu, Vijay Iyer, Khyam Allami, and many more. My life partner and powerful creative duo, Nitcha Tothong.
I am grateful to many more folks that came into my life, both beneficial and damaging. I would not be able to list it all out, but I am grateful if you are reading this.
– Apiwich @apiwichbang – Nitcha Tothong @nitchafame – Richard Saralertsophon @ne2w – Jim Xu @jimxuart