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Music has a new voice

Photo: Thanarak Khunton

Electronic duo X0809 (X-O-Eight-O-Nine) has pushed many boundaries in the Thai music scene in a way that we rarely see. Note Panayanggool, best known for being first runner-up in the seventh season of The Star and Anya "Yale" Muangkote first met at Chula due to a shared interest in music and sports, before eventually forming X0809. The dynamic duo produces their own music with unconventional style and visuals, having released English-language singles like the dark and hypnotic -30 and the more catchy HO. The colourful music video of the latter, the duo's latest single, has amassed over one million views on the band's Facebook page alone within one month. Their fresh sound has reached both Thai and international audiences and they have represented Thailand at various music festivals. We had a fun chat with the duo ahead of their upcoming EP, X. Check them out at fb.com/x0809.

What does 'X0809' mean?

NOTE: It stands for love and peace and beautiful things. And butterflies and unicorn [laughs].

YALE: It's a secret code. If we tell you, it's not gonna be secret anymore.

N: We've never told any press or media before. So we can't say it now!

When did you form X0809? And how did it all start?

N: Towards the end of 2015. It started when I came back from New York, feeling the hype from playing [electronic] gigs there. In two months, I played three gigs there and actually organised the last one myself.

Y: She had just learned about producing electronic music…

N: …then I came back, and asked Yale to form X0809. We were in a band called The Krrrrr together in 2014 before New York but it was more like a hobby for us.

Y: We started everything from there. I never learned to play in a band before and that was our first time together jamming. I changed from piano to synthesiser. Note changed from a ukulele to an electronic guitar.

N: It was a learning process for the both of us.

How did the idea for your latest single come about?

N: We just wanted to put a new perspective on the heartbreak collection. We get tired of writing sad songs...

Y: …and crying over them. We just wanted to turn something sad into something funny, like black humour. And just laugh about it.

Y: So, the song is about a "ho", straightforward. If you read the lyrics, it's just like that.

You guys do all the music production yourselves. Can you guide us through the process?

Y: It's a self-taught process, really. We learned everything by ourselves and also from others. We searched on YouTube and Google for what we don't know.

N: We experiment and go with it. We enjoy doing every process by ourselves, 'cos it's a challenge.

Y: It's important as an artist to be truthful to yourself. You do everything and it comes out 100% you.

N: I think that's really powerful and inspiring.

Working as a duo, how do you divide the tasks?

Y: It depends on which part we can do. And it's just about helping each other out.

N: In some singles, it's her. In the other ones, it's us, jamming.

Y: As artists, we have to keep the creativity going by not limiting ourselves to one process.

N: Visuals-wise -- in music videos and live performance -- we have our friends to collaborate (with). It's great because we're working with new gen people. We see so much potential in them and in our generation.

What do you guys enjoy doing together outside of music?

Both: Rugby, football, going to gigs mostly and randomly meeting new people…

N: ….and flirting with farang boys! No, seriously, we want to go play at festivals abroad.

Y: That's why we produce everything in English.

N: We want to tour around the world. Put Thailand on the map, electronic-music wise.

Some Thai fans have commented that they don't get your music. Do you think Thailand is ready for young electronic artists like yourselves?

Y: Thailand is adjusting. I think they are more open-minded than before. It's positive. We are excited to be one of the pioneers to get them into this kind of music.

N: Even if they still don't get it, at least they know that there is "this thing" going on. We're very happy to be sharing our passion and what we do to Thai people, because in the future, I think they will get it and appreciate it more.

What do you think about the electronic music scene in Thailand?

N: It's small but it's definitely growing. Like recently, we performed at the Low Fat Experimental Music Night at Thong Lor Art Space….

Y: …and we get to meet like-minded fellow musicians.

N: Even though we're small, we're STRONG!

From experience of doing your own band, what advice would you like to share with those who aspire to be artists?"

Y: Just do you, don't follow somebody else's path.

N: Just do it, stop dreaming! Because if you dream, it's a dream and if you do it, it happens!

Would you like to say something to your fans at home and overseas?

Both: Thank you so much for everything! Our EP will be out on May 9. It will be called X, with five songs. Stay tuned on our Facebook page and YouTube channel X0809.

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