How Nakadia Helped Elevate Thailand’s Underground Techno Scene
Dec 30, 2022
3 min read
Since nearly the beginning of her electronic-music career, Nakadia has been an international artist. In her first year as a full-time DJ, she played 55 gigs across 12 countries. And though she currently calls Berlin home, she never forgets her roots in Thailand.
Growing up, Nakadia’s music tastes traveled well beyond Thailand’s borders, from American pop artists like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys to Eurodance. “It doesn’t fit in with my music today at all, but at that time I thought, like, ‘Oh, I’m so cool,’” she tells Gray Area with a laugh.
When she traveled to Germany for the first time in 2002, she discovered techno and immediately decided to make it her life’s pursuit. Over the next year, she vigorously practiced her vinyl mixing skills and even returned to Germany for a stint, where she successfully put those skills to the test at a live gig in front of 2,500 clubbers in Hannover.
Taking that underground sound back to Thailand was difficult. At the time, its clubbing scene leaned more towards hip-hop and funky house.
“I got booked to play commercial parties because promoters loved the idea of putting a sexy Asian DJ on their flyers,” Nakadia told Mr. Afterparty. “But then I emptied the dance floors with my music.”
In 2003, Nakadia moved to the nearby island of Koh Samui, a popular vacation spot for European tourists, where a local club allowed her to play the deep, progressive sounds that inspired her. International promoters on holiday booked her to play their venues. As she learned more about electronic music and culture through her jet-setting gigs, she committed herself to remain uncompromising in her vision, explaining that “I want to enjoy my job.”
As Nakadia continued to prove herself with a steady string of gigs, Thai promoters eventually trusted her to pack dancefloors her way. Throughout the mid-to-late 2000s, she was a regular at venues like Koh Samui’s Fusion & Mint Bar and Bangkok’s Glow. Nakadia’s hard-hitting techno sets—an expression of her true self—at the latter club encouraged other local DJs to follow her lead, which helped establish Glow as Bangkok’s first underground club.
Even as Nakadia’s career took her to Europe for most of the year—and eventually full-time to Berlin in 2010—she remained committed to growing Thailand’s underground scene by visiting whenever she could. To celebrate her homecoming, she often played all-night sets spanning deep house, tech house, and techno.
As big of a star as Nakadia was, she was also instrumental in exposing international underground talent to Thailand. Her Nakadia Welcomes party series connected some of techno’s biggest acts, including Sven Väth, Secret Cinema, and Loco Dice, to sold-out crowds. Compared to the techno-adverse crowds she encountered early on, these parties are living, breathing proof of Nakadia’s ongoing contributions to Thailand’s underground culture.