Morlam is the name of a style of Thai folk music. Though considered traditional, it is still quite popular in the north and northeast (Isan) regions of Thailand. Isan is home of the famous Som Tum spicy papaya salad just to give you a clue.
I’m going to be honest, Morlam does have a stigma among the urban locals. It is deemed to be music for the lower class, music of the simple lifestyle in the countryside. The music of baan nork (upcountry) people.
In the city, we have pop groups that are badly modeled after South Korean counterparts. Lame reality music shows that produce only pretty faces and not talents. With such bad quality, it makes you wonder why the “city music” should be considered “better” at all?
Good thing though that Maft Sai feels differently. A local club DJ in Bangkok, instead of spinning Akon and Madonna dance mixes like in most of the clubs in town, he takes Morlam and other forms of Thai folk music and mash them up with funky beats of jazz, reggae and soul. The result is ZudRangMa Records.
A party was held on Aug 14 to commemorate the launch of his second compilation, Thai Funk Vol. 2. Usual electronic clubbers were presented with a rather unique blend of Morlam, dub and funk, completely caught them by surprise.
Though his records cannot be downloaded online, those who are curious about what Morlam and “Morlam mixes” sound like, Maft Sai also runs a twice-a-month radio show on his website. There are also recorded sessions in case you’ve missed the previous episodes.
His psychedelic MySpace profile is also a good source to discover rare videos and tracks from the Thai past.
Want to know more about Maft Sai and his music? Check out the interview with BK Magazine, a free English weekly about Bangkok, at http://bk-magazine.com/feature/q-maft-sai
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What’s the meaning/origin of Morlam and how do you write it in Thai?