Q&A: Chris Menist

From the U.K. to Pakistan to Thailand— catching up with Chris Menist


You’ve lived in the U.K., Pakistan and Thailand. How has this shaped your view on popular (and unpopular) music?

I think its altered my perception of the accepted western norms of music, which is obviously what I grew up with. Being around other forms of language, ambient sounds or just people’s tastes opens you up to other ideas when it comes to creativity.

How long have you been record hunting? How much of that time has been spent traveling?

I’ve been buying records since my early teens. Most of my traveling is to do with work, and I do any digging around that. If I do specific trips for buying they tend to be fairly short and sweet.

On your blog, you’ve said “Change is always difficult, and moving is possibly one of my least favorite things.” How do you handle being on the road so much? How do the adventures on the road outweigh those of a more sedentary life?

It’s a moth to the flame really. I don’t think there’ll ever be a time where I’m not seeking out music in one form or another, so any inconvenience incurred is just part of the deal. Once I’m at my destination I’m fine, it’s just the preparation and organising beforehand that I find a bit dull.

Which locations have been the most challenging to find the best records?

Ethiopia and Cambodia

How do you hunt down record sellers who have folks like DJ Shadow, Diplo, Alan Bishop in their black books?

In the case of South-East Asia, head to the antique districts or markets. With specific reference to your question, the seller, Lian, is very well known and respected in Jakarta, and also has the nicest shop to hang out in, the best coffee stall next door and the nicest customers. He’s an institution, in the best sense.

Crate digging in Jakarta Indonesia

How many languages do you speak? Has a language barrier even become an issue when searching out albums or haggling prices?

I speak English and school-boy French. Luckily my linguistic limitations haven’t hindered me so far. Sign language and the language of commerce seem to be usefully universal.

You’ve put together compilations for Soundway, Finders Keepers and Dust-To-Digital. Have these labels sought you out?

It’s been different with each one – sometimes I’ve contacted them with the initial idea, sometimes the comps. have just evolved out of other conversations.

What have been your favorite finds?

I’ve been lucky to find so many, but “Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng” by Sroeng Santi (Thai? Dai!), “Ding Ding Dong” by Waipod (Sound of Siam) and “Ya Mun Dakhal Bahr Al-Wawa” by Fatimah Al-Zaelaeyah (Qat, Coffee and Qambus) spring to mind. “Dhinak Dhin Dhin Tana” by Ahmed Rushdi out of Pakistan is another recent favourite.

How long have you been a music historian and when did become clear that this was to be your career?

I don’t really see myself as a historian, although I guess in a subjective sense that describes some of what I do, with reference to the research and the record hunting. In terms of career, I mostly do this in my spare time!

How have audiences in your hometown of Bangkok reacted to compilations like “Thai! Dai?”

Very well – we always aimed for a crowd at our parties of 50/50 Thai and expat and that continues to be the case.

Who is the audience for your bi-monthly DJ night? Is it frequented more by expats or locals?

See above – to witness that this music still translates to a modern audience both in Thailand and around the world is testament to the original skills of the musicians and producers.

To where are you headed next?

Bed! Just got back from a weekend DJing trip – I’ll see how I feel when I wake up…

Crate digging in Vietnam

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