Singer and performance artist Rik Wachirapilan promises concert-goers a show beyond any expectations
When Bakery Music was born back in the 1990s, Thailand’s music industry underwent a radical change. Alternative sounds bristled with commercial possibilities, and ModernDog was the pioneer of the genre. Over the next few years, several one-of-a-kind artists emerged on the scene and among them was a young lady by the name of Rik Wachirapilan.
Rik, the nickname of Wachirapilan Chokcharoenrat, started her career as the vocalist with speed metal band Mad Hot, which conquered the Pepsi Music Festival in 1993 and won Rik the title of best singer. The band flourished, playing at several deathmetal concerts and Rik soon caught the eye of Kamol “Suki” Sukosol Clapp, one of the founders of indie label Bakery Music.
Signed to Bakery, Rik started popping up on tracks from other artists’ albums, among them “Kad” (“Bite!”) from Joey Boy’s 1996 release “Joey Man”, “Ramasing Radio” by Yokee Playboy, “Choey” (“Maya”) and “Haek” (“Break Words”) from Joey Boy’s 1998 album “Bangkok” and “Khid” (“Stupid”) from Pixyl’s “Vision” in 1999. That year Rik released her first album titled “Pathom” on which she combined Indian music with percussion, flutes and Buddhist and Hindu chants. She also changed her image, going from the Satanic ambience of speed metal to a goddess in her own right.
“I believed in Rik right from the time I saw her throwing a skull around the stage during the Pepsi music contest. I believed in her an artist and knew she was right for the label. It wasn’t an easy time for Bakery. Thailand was facing an economic meltdown and we were struggling to survive,” Suki recalls.
“I was fascinated by speed metal back then though I knew it wouldn’t give me an opportunity to showcase my music like other more mainstream artists. Yet the audience always remembered me and I became better known word of mouth,” Rik explains.
“I’m not a mass-produced artist, never have been. That doesn’t mean I had nothing to do after my first album was released. Quite the opposite in fact; I performed at home as well as abroad, even in New York but it was more of an adhoc thing. Each of my albums has been like a journey towards a different destination. I love performing though probably not as much as other mainstream artists. For this concert, my fans will know not to have any expectations other than resting assured that they will be surprised.”
Indeed, Rik staged just one show following the release of her debut album. She left the indie label soon after, moving on to record for TV commercials and movie soundtracks, among them the song “Auto Mata” for 2003 comic horror film “Buppah Rahtree”. In 2004, she released the EP, “Rasamalai Chapter I” on Hualampong Riddim and followed up with “Chapter 2” in 2005. In 2007, she was recognised as Best Female Artist at the Fat Awards and Kom Chad Luek Awards. In 2008, she unveiled her third album, titled “Pandora”.
Now 42, Rik took both fans and the music scene by surprise when she announced she’d be staging a large-scale concert, titled “The Devi of Darkness”, at Ultra Arena on the sixth floor of Show DC tomorrow night.
“It will be the first and the last concert in my life,” says Rik. “It’s part of the rhythm of passing time, an occasion for people to start understanding and feeling what I’m doing. I know that some people like me and my music and others don’t. But I have been successful in my own way and am happy that my music on my first album hasn’t been completely ignored. So, I think that it is a good time for me to make my concert and for people to experience more of me,” she explains.
“I remember telling Rik while she was recording that first album that it was more art than music. As the founder of Bakery Music and an executive producer, I felt there was room for both mainstream music and art. But I also knew that people wouldn’t necessarily understand what we were trying to do. But as we started to put together this show, I was surprised at how many people knew about Rik and her sound. I can only compare it to [my band] Pru’s second album, which didn’t do well at all. Now, though, some of the tracks have reached a million views on YouTube. I guess it takes a lot time for an art form to be absorbed and appreciated. Rik is what I would describe as avant garde, experimental or even art house. But I decided to put on this concert because she has a story to tell.”
Asked about the concert title, Rik says: “We often refer to a female singer as a ‘diva’. I don’t want that name to apply to me because my voice isn’t as beautiful or popular as our divas, but I’m proud to be what I am with my unique voice. So, I would like to call myself a ‘devi’. I’ve also been called the ‘queen of darkness’. ‘Darkness’ isn’t only about the dark side; it can also be beautiful thing.
“I’m a woman who believes in feminine power. The outside of my body is female but the inside is genderless to my thinking. This concert will focus on feminine power and the birth of my first album ‘Pathom.’ The concert will be divided into that birth, the destruction and the rebirth. It will be both concert and performing art. It will have other kinds of arts mixed in. It’s very hard to put into words but the audience will also be part of my performance.”
Rik’s concert features several Bakery alumni such as Thanachai “Pod” Ujjin and May-T Noijinda of alternative rockers ModernDog, Krissada “Noi” and Kamol “Suki” Sukosol Clapp of Pru, Suveera “Q” Boonrod of rock band Flure, and Pathomporn “Pry” Pathomporn.
“This concert will be beyond all expectations,” concludes Rik.
Rock along with Rik
- Rik Wachirapilan’s concert “The Devi of Darkness” takes place tomorrow at 7.30 at Ultra Arena of Show DC on Rama IX Road on August 25 at 7.30pm.
- Tickets are Bt1,200, Bt1,500 and Bt1,800 available at www.TicketMelon.com.