Take a quick spin through Siam Square or Chatuchak Market and it’s clear: Bangkok’s youth culture knows how to do retro. From deadstock sunglasses to modernist furniture, the past is not only present, but lovingly curated and feverishly consumed. The cool kids behind the Kitsch Cat project, however, are taking an obsession with a previous decade (namely the ’80s) to a whole new level.
Kitsch Cat was born a year ago when Thai electro-pop fixture Cesar B. De Guzman (aka Cyndi Seui) and graphic designer/musician Peera Suk-a-Suk (aka Yuri’s Nominee) began brainstorming on a music collaboration—something personal and separate from their day-jobs at indie label Smallroom Records. Soon their friend Jaree Thanapura (aka Gramaphone Children) joined in, and over weekly dinners at a Thonglor ramen joint, the concept evolved: a mini-label to push the electronic music envelope, through compilations, T-shirt design, a blog, and any other means necessary.
“We didn’t expect it to come out so ’80s,” Thanapura explains, “but it ended up that everyone was doing something relating to ’80s music, and it just snapped into place… kinda like velcro.” Velcro is cited as an influence in the liner notes of the first CD compilation, alongside “8-bit video games, vinyl toys, Rubik’s cubes, calculator watches, and spandex.”
The six artists on the compilation remix their reference points into something fresh. Juicy synths and shiny horns are chopped almost beyond recognition in D.J.S.C.P’s dense composition, while Gramaphone Children’s “One Pink Saturday” is a tweaked John Hughes film theme song. The King of Pop is alive and well in Cyndi Seui’s tracks, cross-shuffled and sped up for an impatient age.
After the CD’s release last fall, Kitsch Cat won admirers in France, Japan, and beyond (swamping De Guzman with lots of remix work for electro acts like Astrolabe and Freaku). Ironically, the local scene is discovering them from the outside-in, through international music blogs. Meanwhile the Cats are working on upcoming live shows, the next CD compilation and corresponding T-shirt, and perhaps even a custom-designed “Kitsch Cat” effects filter. Their grand plans to “create electro madness on the dance floor” are well under way.