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INSIDE TECHNO


Nakadia

 

Some of the most impressive stories in the world have small and humble beginnings. Big dreams are cultivated through passion and ambition, and Seephrai Mungphanklang’s success journey could teach us a lesson or two. 

Better known by her stage name Nakadia, this Thai DJ and producer based in Berlin, Germany, grew up on her family’s farm in Khon Buri, Thailand. Today, she is one of the world’s leading female Techno artists.

With her main goal to spread positive energy, Nakadia built an extraordinary world for herself and her fans in this Techno music industry. This is her unique story!
 

 

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?

Positive energy! It’s what I stand for and what my music will deliver. When I perform, I like to go on a journey together with the dancefloor, taking everyone on a rollercoaster ride through emotions. I can play harder sets or more melodic sets, but my music will always lift you up and make you feel happy.

 

Tell us more about your beginnings. Did you get any formal musical education? How and when did you decide to start making music, and what did that process look like? 

My story is very different and probably pretty unique in the DJ world as I had absolutely no background in music. I grew up as a poor farmer’s daughter in a small village in eastern Thailand. We lived in a self-built home without electricity or running water, and at the time, it seemed impossible to have any kind of success in my life. But I always wanted to stand on my own, so I left the family when I was 15 and started working at different factories. 

After some years, I found a job at an internet cafe, where I tried to teach myself English by chatting with people from around the world. One of these people was Sebastian, who I became friends with and who invited me to visit him in Germany. 

During this visit, he took me to a Techno club, and that night changed my life. German DJ legend (and Loveparade resident headliner) Marusha was playing, and when I heard this music, I instantly knew that I was born to be a Techno DJ! I went vinyl shopping the next day, and my super tough career path began. I had no idea about music at all, let alone the different genres. I didn’t know any  DJ who could guide me. There was no electronic music in Thailand - no club where I could find inspiration. There were no Techno clips online, nor DJ sets to learn from like we have today. I was totally on my own, which made it nearly impossible to succeed. 

The technical side of DJing was only a matter of practice, but choosing the right records and finding musical inspiration was the tricky part. There was no Techno in Thailand, and it also seemed like nobody wanted it - certainly not the club owners. My development is actually a very long story with lots of crazy nightmares and major setbacks. The amazing part is that - because my music was not wanted in Thailand - I started touring internationally already in 2004, only one year into my career. 

But life between the continents was very difficult, and it often looked like a successful DJ career was impossible. But I always believed in my destiny and never gave up. It finally paid off. During the Corona crisis, I actually wrote a book about my life called “positive energy - becoming Nakadia.” It sold thousands of copies and even got the attention of a major Hollywood producer, so maybe my story will be on the big screen one day. 


What has changed since then? Has your background ever played a role in how you create music today? 

Absolutely everything has changed since then, and I believe that my background and development made me the artist I am today. Without the nearly impossible journey I initially took, I might have become just another DJ. I might have copied a Dj friend or artist I admired, but without having somebody to look up to - without having a role model or a local club that gives you an idea of what you want to do - I had to find music only using my ears and go for nothing else but my taste. This approach and being entirely on my own made me Nakadia.

 

What does Techno mean to you? What was it about it that attracted you to this genre? 

Techno was initially a genre that represented individual freedom, a rebellion against standards and traditions - Techno meant total equality. Unfortunately, the genre is completely losing its core values at the moment. When I found Techno back at that first club night in Germany in 2003, I didn’t know any of this, but I somehow could feel the difference in vibe on the dancefloor. The feeling of togetherness and equality was a new experience, but what really got me was the infectious energy the music had. This was exactly the kind of energy I felt inside of me, and for the first time, I did not listen to music, but I was able to feel it.

 

How do you view the position of female DJs and producers in the world? Anything you wish was different? What would you address or change?

The gender situation has always been extremely unfair. During most years of my career, the industry had no chance to be taken seriously. Techno was for men, and everybody was very open about this situation. Girls did not belong in the DJ booth unless they looked like nerdy men. For so many years, it meant only the smaller clubs would prioritize music and consider giving a girl a chance. At these clubs, I was able to prove myself and slowly build a fan base. 

This all changed with the success of Nina Kraviz - she opened so many doors for us girls. When Amelie and Charlotte suddenly became superstars, the trend completely turned around: now we are dealing with the "Techno Girl" generation. Once again, music does not matter, just in the opposite way. Now promoters are looking for beautiful girls with a big Instagram account to fill their dancefloors. 

Within a few years, the scene has entirely made a u-turn. Every time we are dealing with situations that are completely against what Techno stands for. I don't want to be rejected- or booked because I am a girl. I want to be booked for the music I play and the feeling I bring to the dancefloor. Once again, it's the smaller venues that care about the music. The bigger an event gets, the less its bookers care about the music.  

 

What inspires you the most when you create? Who do you look up to? 

I started producing very late. For the first ten years of my career, I toured around the world without the need to release my own music. When I moved to Berlin in 2010, I slowly started to get into production, teaching myself Ableton live. Musical inspiration came from my touring and listening to many artists every month. But I was not able to create what I had in mind. Translating ideas into reality is not easy. So with time, I bought more equipment and began letting my studio tools inspire me. I just jam around and see where it takes me without a plan. 

Over the years, I have worked with some great producers and engineers who I teamed up with to finalize my tracks. Ramon Zenker, for example, a legend with several world hits under his belt (Fragma’s “Tocas Miracle” or Bellini “Samba de Janeiro,” for example) - I learned so much from him. Another good friend - the legendary Hannes Bieger - taught me the basics of modular synthesis, and this recently has been a massive game-changer for me. Both Ramon and Hannes are role models in my development as a producer.

 

Careerwise, is there anything you wish you’d done but haven’t had the opportunity to do so? Or is there anything you’d do differently?

Looking back, I would have done so many things differently. Especially the first 6-7 years when I was still living in Thailand, I had no idea that Techno actually was a lifestyle and not just a musical genre. After my move to Berlin, I started to realize this, and it changed everything. If I could do it over again, I would move to Berlin instantly and not wait seven years into my career. But I believe that everything happens for a reason. Things take time and will happen the way they are supposed to happen, and generally, I am proud and happy with all my mistakes and accomplishments. 

 

Has the pandemic affected your creative process in any way over the past two years?

It might sound bad, but the pandemic has helped me a lot as an artist. First of all, I was completely exhausted from touring at the start of 2020, so this break was much needed, and I was very happy to be home. For 16 years, I was basically constantly on tour, taking more than 300 flights per year and being home for around 100 days per year, which breaks down to an average of only two days per week. Corona gave me the opportunity to finally be home and spend more time in the studio. I am now much better at creating what is on my mind, and towards the end of 2022, these new productions will be released one after the other, which makes me very excited about the future.

 

Which moments, performances, or connections would you say have highlighted your career so far?

I had so many highlights over the years, but the first one that stood out was my first performance at the original Berlin Love Parade in 2006. I had already been at the parade as a guest between 2002 and 2005, so you can imagine how excited and nervous I was to play for the world’s biggest dancefloor of over 1 million people. This was an experience I will never forget. 

The second most incredible highlight was my first event production being a promoter - on the beach in Thailand. I invited Sven Väth, and we made history on Koh Samui. The party completely sold out, and people were fighting for tickets - for me, it became the best party I have ever been to, and this night was the beginning of a 3-year collaboration with Sven, organizing and playing 11 events together in Thailand.

 

Describe your experience playing at the Love Parade. How has your contribution towards Rave The Planet impacted your career?  

Playing at Love Parade is very difficult to describe. So many emotions, so many impressions everywhere around. The days before and after the Love Parade, it seemed like the city was upside down. Wherever you walked in town, you could hear the heartbeat of the bass booming; everywhere you looked was colorful, and sexy people were dancing and celebrating. There was pure happiness in the air everywhere - it seemed that the entire world of party people had found their way to Berlin for this weekend, and getting the opportunity to play the music for them was just magical! The fact that Dr. Motte - the father of Love Parade - is bringing it back now is the best news! I would say it’s about time, and I am counting the days.

 

What have you learned from your personal career journey? Where do you find your motivation when times are difficult?

I have learned that everything happens for a reason, and no setback is bad enough to take me down. For every door that closes, another one will open. Those who read my book will find out that some crazy situations basically meant the end of my career. At some point, the Ambassador of Germany in Thailand decided he wanted to stop my career and blocked me from entering Europe - for no reason. A hater took me to court, trying to get me jail time, and nearly succeeded. 

These are just two examples of the worst nightmares I managed to overcome, and because I have been through all these terrible times and experiences, nothing scares me anymore. I am extremely happy and grateful now for how smoothly my life and career are going. I don’t artificially get hyped to superstar status by management- and marketing companies, but I stand on my own feet, playing great parties every weekend (as long as Corona allows it) and making people happy with my music - that’s what it’s all about.

 

What are your plans and goals for the future?

I will have a very busy year touring, and I hope to have the strength to do this for many more years, staying healthy and fit.

 

Any tips and encouraging words for DJ beginners? 

Stay true to yourself. Don’t follow the hype but try to look beyond it and follow your inspiration, not a trend. The music industry is terrible, and you can only enjoy life if you really love your music.

 

Author: Techno 24/7

Pic: amomentoflovely.com

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