As part of La Fete 2013, French band Limousine will team up with traditional Thai multi-instrumentalist Yodh Warong to perform a cross-cultural blend of mo lam, jazz and post-rock at Sonic Ekkamai on May 29. BK spoke to the band’s saxophonist and keyboardist Laurent Bardainne about the origins of the Limousine Siam Roads Concert and Exhibition, which also features a series of works by award-winning photojournalist Agnes Dherbeys capturing their tour of the Isaan countryside last year.
How did Limousine form and what sort of music do you usually play?
We were experimental jazz musicians based in Paris who decided to start a quiet project in 2005. Our initial goal was to make our audiences dream through minimalist soundscapes.
How did you first discover Thai luk tung and morlam? What do you find so appealing about these sounds?
Back in 2010, I went into a bar in Bangkok—I don’t remember which one—and discovered luk tung playing. After that I went straight out and bought compilations from Maft Sai’s ZudRangMa Records and Soundway Records.
People like ZudRangMa have worked hard to re-introduce mo lam to a bigger audience; do you think there is an international market for Thai roots music?
Where did you first get the inspiration for the Siam Roads project?
When I came back to Paris after my first trip to Thailand, I was so sad. I was always listening to mor lam, so we just decided to make a sort of tribute to this kind of music with as Limousine.
Why did you decide to document your tour of the Isaan countryside in 2012?
Agnes is my partner of two and a half years. She was living in Bangkok for 12 years but has since come back to Paris. We decided to keep a visual souvenir of our trip to Ubon Ratchatani and we plan to release a photo book and vinyl in 2014.
How did you first come into contact with Yodh Warong?
By chance, David Aknin [Limousine drummer] knew of this kind of music, and he remembered this great molam musician he had seen in Thailand two years before. We were able to contact Yodh over the internet and met him in the summer of 2011 when we started planning the trip.
What can gig-goers expect from the show as part of La Fete on May 29?
A meeting between Isaan music and our sound, which is closer to jazz. In the end you willl dance!
Your press bio describes Limousine’s sound as “imaginary road movie music”; do you think music and travel are inexplicably linked?
Yes, with Limousine we also want people to travel in their head—they can attach their own stories because there are no words in the songs.
As your bio also points outs, Thailand evokes different things to different people; what does Thailand mean to you?
Firstly, I have the intimate souvenir of my real first holiday in Thailand. But Thailand is also Isaan for me now, too. I would say the sweetness and deep spirituality of the country stands out for me.