Three Thai female bands take their own approaches to reach the top of the music charts
A British music website recently published a list of the 11 girl groups from around the world that were definitely worth a listen. They included Japan’s Baby Metal whose music video of “Gimme Chocolate!!” has garnered almost five million views on YouTube, South Korea’s 2NE1 and a surprise entry from Myanmar, the Me N Ma Girls, described as a politically aware version of the Pussycat Dolls.
Thailand’s Apple Girls Band, Gaia and Jackie Nanny Nina didn’t make it to the list and that’s a shame, because all three are bursting with talent, each in their own unique way.
The Apple Girls Band
Banana Records’ Apple Girls Band made their debut using iPhones and iPads for their backing tracks. All graduates of music schools, the group of bassist Bunyawhad “Whad” Thanasomboon, guitarists Pimprapa “Fern” Chaloemwongwiwat and Nisart “Mint” Sittatikarnvech, vocalist Saithip “Walnut” Wiwattanapatapee and drummer Patchanutsakarn “Bow” Chaitripob, all play “real” instruments as well.
Apple Girls formed in 2011 when Walnut wrote the song “Jakrawal Wittaya” and wanted a way of recording it that would stand out. A tech-savvy student, she downloaded the GarageBand app from iTunes and roped in her pals to play the other instruments on their iPads and iPhones. Banana Records’ founder Wassakorn “Ed” Dechsutham liked the sound enough to record it and upload a video to YouTube. It went viral overnight and two days later, the band was being booked for live shows.
“Playing guitar on a gadget is much harder than playing it on the real instrument,” says Mint. “When I play guitar, I know exactly where to put my hand; I don’t have to look. On an iPad or iPhone, I dare not take my eyes off the screen for even a second. It’s also slippery.
“But the real disadvantage point is that the guitar neck on an iPad is shorter than on a real guitar. That’s limiting and means we have to be careful about the songs we play. We couldn’t do jazz for example.”
Apple Girls Band has seven songs in its repertoire from “Jakrawal Wittaya” to the latest “Ha Mee”.
“Most of our songs are electronic pop but we’ve also covered metal band Kluaythai’s ‘Jeb Jung Boei’ and have played our version of it live,” says Walnut, who also wrote the metal band’s “Bong Tong”.
“Bow came in later as our drummer. Up until she joined, I was the one keeping the beat while singing but that meant I was staring at the iPad rather than interacting with the audience,” says Walnut, adding that while she finds GarageBand a useful app for making a demo, she personally prefers real instruments.
“It’s really just a gimmick,” she says.
The five young women who make up Gaia – Janjera “Junji” Junpitakchai, Thanissa “Pleng” Intharit, Panisa “Nunn” Udomruangkiat, Sirapassara “Pam” Sintrakarnphol and Jutamas “Joy” Wichai – have adopted South Korea’s winning girl group recipe in terms of looks and genre. Signed with Do A Dot, a subsidiary of Workpoint Entertainment, they take their name from the Greek Goddess of the Earth and are hooked in to Asian pop dance.
“We follow the Korean style but we’re more a mix of Eastern and Western cultures,” Junji says. “We think of ourselves as closer to the Spice Girls than a Korean girl group because we are more individual, each with our own colour and style. We’ve had lots of positive comments about our music video on YouTube, with people saying that we might look Korean but our style is definitely Thai,” says Joy.
Like the Spice Girls, they’ve adopted different characters with Pleng describing herself as chic, Nunn as naughty, Pam as sweet, Joy as sexy and Junji as sporty.
Gaia has so far released two singles. “Audition”, which showcases their talent for dancing, is an English song written by Jay Park and produced by Cha Cha Malone, the American studio genius behind the success of Korean artists Jay Park, Kara and U-Kiss, and “Love Potion”.
“Audition”, which Junji says is about having men “auditioning” for their attentions, is apparently proving more popular with foreigners than Thais.’
“We get a lot of fan chat from Europe on our Twitter account,” she says.
Jackie Nanny Nina
There’s nothing remotely South Korean nor high-tech about Jackie Nanny Nina. Signed with Sahaphap Dontri (Music Union), singer Jacqueline “Jackie” Muench, violinist Pratana “Nanny” Chongcharoen and cellist Nichapa “Nina” Nilkaew are a classical-pop crossover trio who have enjoyed moderate success with their first two singles “Bang Sing Khae Roo Suek” and “Luem Hai Jai”.
“I love the way the cello creates moods of melancholy and mystery,” says Nina, who is also a member of Somtow Sucharitkul’s Siam Sinfonietta. Nanny too is a professional musician attached to the Royal Thai Navy Music Division while Jackie is an actress on Channel 3’s “Raak Boon 2”.
Like Gaia, they’re each promoting a different character – Jackie is sweet, Nanny is chic and Nina is smart – and say their strength lies in their lyrics and the emotions evoked by their instruments.
“We’re a girl group with a difference; two strings and one voice, and that makes us different from Vietrio,” says Nanny.