Introduction to Original Press…
I left the UK in October 2006, thinking that I was drawing to a close my work as a freelance musician and music journalist. I’d enjoyed moderate success with both, but the combination of hitting my thirties, the birth of my twin sons Ben & Ollie and a general fatigue brought on by constantly invoicing and chasing cheques had made me think about changing tack.
Myself and my family moved to Islamabad, Pakistan where I took up a Communications post for a local NGO. My wife had spent her formative years in Pakistan, and it was a place we both felt drawn back to since our first visit together in the late summer of 2000.
Just before I left, my friend David Hill, who I’d gotten to know whilst he was running Nuphonic, had emailed me two Ebay listings for records pressed on EMI Pakistan, and correctly suggested I should keep my eyes peeled for more of the same after my move. Of course curiousity got the better of me, and I eventually got hold of the owners of the EMI Pakistan back catalogue in Karachi, which resulted in the compilation ‘Sound of Wonder’ which was put out by Finders Keepers, the first in a series of ‘Lollywood’ reissues and an ongoing project with more planned for 2011.
After spending the following summer in the UK, visa issues and an ensuing state of emergency declared by General Musharraf had sadly made return to Pakistan impossible. Not wanting to resettle in the UK, my wife Sarah applied for a teaching position in Bangkok, and we landed in Thailand on the New Year’s Eve of 2008, jet lagged and curious.
Over the next three years I spent my spare time rifling through the various old record stores in China Town and its surrounds. This too has resulted in a compilation for Finders Keepers (‘Thai? Dai!’ – due out in early 2011), and Soundway (‘The Sound of Siam’, which should be out end of November of this year). In addition, my digging trips gave rise to ‘Paradise Bangkok’ a bi-monthly night put on with my friend and DJ partner Maft Sai, who runs ZudRangMa.
Occasionally I would tell friends about my various trips around Bangkok, as well as to Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar in the search for elusive music, and it’s as a result of their comments and encouragement that I decided to document this experience in the form of a blog.
I’m not sure how I feel about blogs. For sure, I’ve never subscribed to one, so I suppose it’s with a certain amount of presumption that I start my own.
The other catalyst for this though, is the fact that I’ve just travelled to a new place. Again, it’s work related (I now work as a consultant for international development organisations – I say this merely to outline that I don’t get to flit round the globe in the endless search for obscure records for a living!), and, like Pakistan, it now seems to be appearing in the news for all the wrong reasons. For me, the country is a blank slate, and I realised before I embarked how little I knew about it. What, then, should I expect to find in Yemen?