You Never Know

True to its name, Pissawong Records‘ latest compilation is indeed weird and mysterious. The word pissawong in Thai has multiple meanings, revolving around the idea of the unknown and possibly bad, and this is an apt description of their output. “We love creepy shit,” laughs Ahivar, the label’s co-founder and organizer. “You never know what you’ll get.”

The compilation—split into two sides called simply Sampler 1 and Sampler 2—is a dancefloor affair, full of twists and turns but never tweaked enough to lead you astray from the vibe. “After the artists finish a track for us, we urge them to play it out and test it at different clubs,” says Ahivar, otherwise known as Pathompol Chanin during daylight hours. “We try not to limit ourselves to a particular style, but we try and get them to make something we can use on the dancefloor.” Girded by steady 4×4 beats interspersed with strange effects and intricate percussion, it veers from the dramatic and mystical, to the pummeling and bleak, to the psychedelic and traditional. But it’s always danceable.

When they first started, the label had five acts, including Ahivar, who together make up the core team. But the compilation captures their growth of late. It features 14 separate artists who all live in Thailand and have committed to releasing multiple tracks with the label. “That was part of the deal,” Ahivar says. “We haven’t released a lot of the music yet but we’ve been playing it out.”

They started Pissawong with the goal of encouraging Thai DJs to start producing. Ahivar is a partner at Decommune, has worked as a sound engineer for over a decade, and has been producing music since the days of Music Generator on PS1, so he’s seen a lot of the changes and growth within the Bangkok club scene. And La Yumar— who’s the label’s art director, co-founder of Durian Radio, and Decommune lighting director—collected most of the demos for the compilation. “We want to support Thai DJs in becoming real artists,” Ahivar says. “To give them the encouragement to try.” With all these friends working in the club industry, the vast majority were not actually making music—so they set out to change that. The man behind the label’s artwork, Sidehouse Sunshine, is releasing music. La Yumar is also making music as Dj Carl Jr. No one is left behind, it’s all hands on deck. This is a communal effort.

“Many of the artists are producing for the first time,” Ahivar reveals. “We’re pushing them to keep improving. I help with the final product, doing the mixing and mastering. Some come to my house and we work together until they’re comfortable enough to do it on their own. Or I just help them get a particular idea out of their head and into a track.” He says they’re keeping it low key for now as they cultivate their skills and sound, letting people discover them on their own, rather than shouting about their existence. But they often get a good response from the dancefloor when the new tracks are played, even if the crowd doesn’t realize it’s from a local producer.

Decommune and Pissawong have the same experimental character—they’re geared to keeping crowds sweaty and are here to push Bangkok forward with new ideas and sounds. The way Ahivar describes his motivations behind the club speaks to the label’s soul as well: “People mostly love tech house or easy house here. But if I was going to open a club and it’s just the same thing as everything else out there, why do it? It’d be boring.” So once again, they venture into the unknown with glee, in search of the open-minded.