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Music by VICE

An Interview with Flim, the First Man in Thai-French-Toronto Techno

“Techno sounds like a boring washing machine, but it taught me the art of stillness.”

by Jesse Ship
Apr 24 2014, 7:00pm

I first met Flim, the dreadlocked Thai man, when he was living in a converted commercial Laundromat turned hippie-raver DIY space. The crew was famous for trucking their converted bio-diesel party wagon across the country and throwing parties wherever they could hunker down and collect kitchen trap grease. That was about ten years ago and Flim has since come a long way with his music. Raised in Thailand on the sunny beaches of Kho Samui and the dark nights of Full Moon parties, he truly found his stride after moving to Toronto and falling in love with acid techno.

His tastes have evolved, along with his living arrangements. He's now taken up residency on the French Riviera aka, the Cote d'Azur, where he partly runs his label for emerging and experimental techno artists like Maetta. You may have heard his tunes being banged out by The Hacker (of Miss Kittin and The Hacker), or Laurent Garnier's right hand man, Scan X. His latest release is the Mind Control EP, and you can get a taste of it above.

THUMP: How did you first start getting involved with music?
Film: I first started listening to classic rock and commercial pop from the '60s to the '80s when I was a kid in Songkhla, Thailand. My dad was a guitarist in a successful local band and they would play at local bars and temples. I got to party with him and his friends at an early age, and although he was more into Simon & Garfunkle he encouraged me to get more into more underground stuff at the time like Machinehead and Sepultura.

Did you play any instruments?
When I was ten I played drums in a band where my best friend and band mate was forty years old! I later took music in high school and always thought electronic music was computerized junk. I didn't know anything about Kraftwerk or those kinds of artists. All I knew was "Ice, Ice Baby, dingdadading ding ding ding."

When I was sixteen we moved to the southern island Kho Samui and there was this UK DJ that lived there called Gary Gecko, who was my first introduction to house music and four on the floor dance beats. I thought it was a bit cheesy still since I was more into metal, but I really owe a lot to that guy; he's one of those quiet giants of the scene. After a number of attempts at bands and flaky band mates not showing up for practices, I got fed up with having to rely on people to make music with.

How did that lead to techno?
One night at a Full Moon party, the beat sort of caught me, and I noticed the way people were dancing was kind of beautiful and I forced myself to appreciate it. I loved how it sounded like a boring washing machine. It was boring as fuck, but it taught me the art of stillness, like the Buddha. Back in that time techno was hard and fast, a bit like heavy metal.

So I started DJing the Full Moon, Half Moon, Black Moon parties and all that in Kho Samui for fun. When I eventually moved to Toronto I saw Jezbone at System Soundbar who introduced me to acid techno sounds and guys like The Liberators, DDR, D.A.V.E. The Drummer, and Geezer. I fell in love with the aggressive mixing techniques. It reminded me a lot of hard rock and metal that I used to like to but couldn't bring myself to listen to anymore, so it filled that void. With acid, I feel you really use the mixer as an instrument, so I decided to devote myself to it and stopped playing all other styles.

What kind of gigs were you playing?
In 2002 I got to open for Chris Liberator in London Ontario, played at WEMF, lots of other gigs and at the Laundromat of course. I felt I could play real music from my heart at underground warehouse parties, under bridges and other urban locations.

What do you think of artists changing their stripes and playing other kinds of music?
People think that artists change their music styles because of trends, but that's just not it. Some people have that kind of integrity, but most people don't. There are so many great styles out there. Artists are always blaming someone when another name switches to another style but its not about trends, it's because they get absorbed by it and fall in love. A lot of producers have diverse musical backgrounds that they grew up with.

Like with what Tiësto is doing now with that Coldplay remix?
Yeah, I don't think it's because of fashion, I think it's because of how you absorb the music. Often, artists that do the same thing blame the artist that changes. But its' not their fault, it's because they like it.

Yeah, like Deadmau5 is also doing techno now as Testpilot.
I think he has it in his heart. He must be bored of what other people are doing. I think that's a very good thing, it's a gift. I'd say fifty percent of artists change and fifty percent stick with one thing. But everyone has a soul in music that can be changed.

How did you connect with Jay Montonn Jira, the Thai movie star, model and minimal techno guru for your Belladonna Remix EP?
It's a big deal to work with such a multi-talented artist like him. I grew up watching his movies. I knew he had been in rock bands before and I came across a Placebo remix he did for "For What It's Worth" and I thought it really fit well with Maetta. I sent him an email saying that he should collaborate because there's a big scene in Toronto, and our Thai connection would be a good partnership. It took him a year to write back, but in the end he did! I'm quite happy about it because he's such a great artist. It also felt good to know that I'm not the only guy in Thailand that's passionate about music that isn't commercial.

Tell me about the Mind Control EP. What direction are you going in?
It's still a banging style, but not too fast, around 128 BPM with some psychedelic and shuffling sounds. It's not a typical tech-house beat with an ascending bass line, it's more like a push and pull sound. There's a bit of a twerk sound but with dark and melodic driving synth, but it's still not too hard. I'm pretty excited about it. I danced to it and it felt good. It also comes with remixes from Skymate, HDRX, Benny Knox, and Von Pixel.

Tell me about your early success and how you connected with The Hacker.
My first CD got picked up by D.A.V.E The Drummer and Pattrix who put it on their label, Mutate To Survive, which wound up with a German distribution. I didn't think it was great but they saw good potential and asked for more. The next EP was called New Planet and it got featured on Beatport's new release banner. A week later one of the tunes was charted by The Hacker, which really freaked me out. I was listed as number two out of ten, sandwiched between a Richie Hawtin tune and Hawtin's other alias Fuse. For a first EP release, that really blew my mind. You can hear it on Soundcloud from a massive show The Hacker did in Brazil. That was really the breaking point.

Sounds like you must have known you were on the right path. How are the parties in the south of France? Are they better than in Thailand?
In Thailand you could have a party with 10,000 people and they might not know the artist but at least they will dance and go crazy. Parties on the Cote d'Azur are getting bigger all the time and there are plenty of underground music fans. Die Antword, Jeff Mills, James Holden and Moderat are all coming this summer for the Plage Electro.

What should the typical EDM newcomer listen to to get hip to good electronic music?
They should start with someone accessible like Gesaffelstein. It's close to electronic. Brodinski is also a good place to start. Maybe some techno like Laurent Garnier, Scan X or even Art Department for deep house. Even the acid techno styles that I mentioned earlier like from London: Chris Liberator, D.A.V.E The Drummer, the Geezer to get a bit more serious and underground.

Flim currently holds a residency at the Happy Face club in Antibes and is finishing up his full length album this summer. Stay tuned.

Jesse Ship is a freelance writer in Toronto and former Junos Juror for the electronic music category. You can follow his rants at @Jesse_Ship