FROM R. KELLY TO SOULJA BOY, DJ AKIO’S UNFILTERED EXPERIENCE OF BANGKOK
While most of the world unites in their muting of R. Kelly’s music, DJ Akio on his first night playing in Bangkok learnt that locals couldn’t be bothered by the world’s latest fad. “Surprisingly they haven’t muted R Kelly yet. The DJ before me dropped a couple joints and people were getting down to it like it was Kelly Rowland,” says the DJ.
Akio was DJing at a spot called Marumba Bar last week Friday, showing the people in Thailand why he’s known as the most Shazamed DJ in Africa. “It was cool. Cops shut us down at 2AM so a bit anticlimactic. These first bookings in a new country are always a feeling out process because you never know what goes down. You really have to give the crowd a taste of everything and then process it as you go.”
He plays another set tonight at Marumba Bar and tomorrow at the Continental Hotel Pool Deck for Sunset Splash. Early into the year the Kool Out man put out a list of cities he wants to tour in 2019, with Bangkok sitting at the top. “Most of the cities I mentioned I got a seed planted or a plug that side. I got a lot of goals I keep to myself, because people don’t need to know what you’re cooking but sometimes it’s good to make them public to motivate you further,” the DJ says.
“I feel pretty confident about getting at least three more this year. The opportunities are there. It’s mainly about timing. Realistically I can only go to the city once in a year so I want to get the most out of the experience.”
He’s been in the Asian country for more than a week now and that his gigs are far apart in days, bar tonight and tomorrow’s sets, this has given him time to explore the metropolitan in its fullness. “I love how open the city is. Life is on the streets. Everyone eats outside. You always feel the warmth of other people and it’s also mad safe.”
“I still handle all my Kool Out responsibilities so I spend a good portion of the day working and then I just hit the streets and engage. People think I’m joking when I say I just want to be surrounded by Asian people. I’ve been making it a point to go out and find basketball courts so I can run some pickup games with the locals.”
Rapper Soulja Boy has forced his way back into the mainstream, through the countless interviews he’s done on various media platforms in the US. But despite this, Akio was shocked by the number of times he’s heard Soulja’s Crank That in Bangkok. “It’s like Sister Betina out here. I don’t know why, but I’m assuming it’s because of the dance. They get hella white tourists out here and I think Young Draco stays big with that demographic so it stays on the playlist.”
Akio says Hip Hop remains on the final frontier in Thailand, like most parts of Asia. “While there is a new school/trap market emerging, it’s still very Pop and EDM. I feel like there is a place for me to make an impact, but I’m really gonna have to spend some time here to figure out gaps.”
The DJ isn’t sure whether he’ll fly back straight to Mzansi. “I’m booked for two events at SXSW in Austin, Texas so I might go straight to the States from Bangkok.”