Rocking the Orchestra

On a surface Thanachai “Pod” Ujjin of Moderndog fame is far removed from the orchestral world. As an alternative rock luminary, Thanachai and his bandmates May-T Noijinda and Pawin Suwannacheep have paved the way for many aspiring, outside-the-box musicians.

Thanachai has never been one to get stuck in a routine, and this Saturday will be the first time he has performed with a full orchestra — under the helm of renowned conductor Trisdee Na Patalung.

“Twogether: Pod & The Orchestra” will see Thanachai breathing new life into both his Moderndog songs and others in collaboration with singer/songwriter Boyd Kosiyapong in orchestral versions professionally rearranged and conducted by Trisdee.

Trisdee is a founder of Bangkok Baroque Ensemble. He is also the first Thai and one of the youngest conductors invited to head up a major Italian symphony orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI.

What inspired you to do this concert?

Thanachai: It started out when Majung channel offered me this project. I was extremely interested and excited because I thought my songs and orchestral music would make a really great combination.

How did you two come to work together?

Trisdee: We first met each other back in August last year, but this is the first official event we have worked on together. I spend most of my time abroad so I do not follow Thai media or listen to Thai music that much. I didn’t even know songs I often heard on the radio were his.

Thanachai: It started with his teacher Somtow Sucharitkul. He invited me to join a concert with Siam Sinfonietta. At that time we had the song Sing Thee Mai Kei Bok turned into an orchestral version. It was the beginning of the whole thing we’re doing right now.

Trisdee, how do you feel working with Thanachai?

Trisdee: I see him as a very respectful person whom I’m really happy and comfortable working with. However, I don’t see him as a celebrity, and I think it is a good thing, since I don’t get nervous being around him.

Thanachai, why did you decide to work with Trisdee?

Thanachai: Before I make a decision to work with someone, I always choose the one that I really want to work with. Back in the day, I just worked with people that I was interested in and then we came to have Bakery Music.

With Trisdee, I admire his work and his talent and we have time to discuss the song that we’re working on. I don’t just throw the work at him, but instead we talk and help each other. I tell him the background of each song, why I wrote it, and how I feel. The good thing is he doesn’t agree with me all the time, so we discuss different ideas.

Many people wonder how alternative music can be performed in an orchestral setting.

Thanachai: A lot of people have the wrong perception that orchestral music is untouchable, but we want to show the audience orchestras aren’t inaccessible. Another aspect of orchestral music will be shown at this concert.

You’ve written a new song called Thee Trong Nee. Can you tell us more?

Thanachai: I wrote this song in a hurry. It was spontaneous and I recorded it with my iPhone. When I finished the song, I hid it and I didn’t tell anybody, because I normally write songs with deep meaning. This is very different. It’s such a simple love song.

Do you have any guest artists at this concert?

Thanachai: Yes. We have Santi Lunpae as a guest. I have a song called Chai Cha Na that features him. We also have Nammon, a singer who possesses a beautiful voice. She has worked with Trisdee for quite a long time. The last two guests are Teeranai Na Nongkai who is singing songs written by Trisdee, and Somtow Sucharitkul, one of the most prominent artists out there.

This concert is very special to you and it is something new. Do you have stage fright? How do you cope with nerves?

Thanachai: I was much more nervous earlier, but I feel better now. I have always prepared both mentally and physically. I train my voice all the time. I normally get excited on stage. When I am shy, I always jump. That’s what I have done since I was young.