Let me put this out first: I love bookshops.
Last month’s weekend trip to Thailand led me to Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre (BACC), where the treasure trove called Bookmoby Readers’ Cafe can be found. If you’re staying for less than 48 hours in a country, why would you spend more than an hour in a bookshop?
My haul from Bookmoby included a few familiar titles and a shirt with the shop’s logo. While paying at the counter, I also picked up a CD entitled Naming of a Storm and asked the staff if I can listen to it first. The album had me at “Bangkok Blues” so I got a copy.
Days after Naming of a Storm became my staple driving music, I took some time to read the jacket and found out that the the lyrics were written by Prabda Yoon, who also runs Bookmoby, Typhoon Studio and Typhoon Books. Prabda won the S.E.A. Write Award in 2002 for his story collection, Kwan Na Ja Pen. He has written books and screenplays, produced music and designed numerous book covers. His writings have also been translated to Japanese and published in Japan.
So why would you spend an hour of your short vacation inside a bookshop? Because it could be the door to a nation’s mind. And when you walk through that door, your trip continues even when you’re already back in your own country.
A week after my trip to Thailand, I found myself exchanging e-mails with Prabda Yoon. I’m so thankful that the prolific and influential artist took time to answer a few questions.
The Typhoon Band, Typhoon Books and Typhoon Studio, Naming of a Storm. Is there a story behind the names and title? It’s just from my interest in meteorological phenomena. Also, it’s a word that is the same in Thai and English which makes it easy to use alternately.
The tracks in your band’s album, Naming of a Storm, has been my driving music for weeks now, since I picked it up at Bookmoby. “Cuba, Bollywood” is my favorite. Will you be releasing new album or music anytime soon? It’s unlikely because music is not my main thing and I don’t have time for it at all now.
The album was released in 2008. I understand that you wrote the lyrics for the songs. How different will the words be if you were to release a new one today? If I wrote new songs now the lyrics would probably be darker. I am feeling a bit frustrated with the political situation in Thailand and I think I would enjoy expressing that through songs. The music would also be more punk.
You’re a designer, writer, translator, publisher and musician, among other things. Have you always wanted or planned to do these? I’d always wanted to write and make art in some ways, but no, I didn’t really plan any of this. I never really believed that I could make a living doing these things. I tell myself often how lucky I am and how it’d be a terrible shame to waste it all by doing bad work. That’s my inspiration. I’m trying my best because I’m grateful I can do what I love.
Can you please tell us a bit about what makes you passionate about all these things that you do? I’m really no good at anything else. I feel that I’ve found my place in the world and I want to make the best out of it. For me life is about work, more than anything else, because I don’t have much passion for other things. So I just want to do what I do as much as I possibly can.
How do you see Thailand’s literary and art scene? It’s developing and at times it can be exciting. But Thailand still has a long way to go.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve been to the Philippines for some time. What brought you here? I have some good friends in the Philippines. And in 2009 I received a research grant from Japan that allowed me to stay in different parts of the Philippines for 3 months.
Do you have a favorite place in the Philippines? I love Siquijor. I went there twice. I would love to go back.
Is there any chance of you coming back? Yes, but not anytime soon. I know I will be back though.
If you’re planning to visit Thailand, pass by BACC and spend time (at least an hour) at Bookmoby. You may also visit its website: www.bookmoby.com.