There’s something inherently sneaky about Thailand’s annual music festival Wonderfruit. The fest, which is fast becoming one of the best in Southeast Asia, is about so much more than music. Sure, those festival memories may have started in the Quarry, but the daylight side of the fest is so packed with informative discussions about sustainability, sexuality, and healthy lifestyles, that anyone is bound to walk away on Monday with some fresh knowledge buried somewhere in their brains.
And this is exactly what founder Pranitan Phornprapha, or Pete to his friends, had in mind. Wonderfruit is, in many ways, an example of adding sugar to your medicine. It’s not that the panels and talks aren’t interesting and exciting (they are), it’s just that even today it takes a bit of magic to get a crowd to spend four days learning about sustainable practices and out-of-the-box solutions to aid our ailing environment.
VICE spoke with Pete about the success of last December’s festival, and where Wonderfruit hopes to go in 2018 as the event organizers prepare for another installment of the four-day arts, music, and culture fest.
VICE: When Wonderfruit started it was—and still is—a bit unlike anything else in Southeast Asia. We already have big commercial festivals like Laneway, Djakarta Warehouse Project, and Ultra bring big acts from overseas to the region, but there were few fests really pushing the whole immersive, camp for the whole fest, model. Did you have any concerns going in? Did you worry that it might not work?
Pranitan Phornprapha: I come from an entrepreneur background, and not a festival one, so I wanted to make sure we were creating something with value. I wasn’t concerned going into it, but I had some concerns coming out of the first edition since we didn’t hit the targets we set. But it’s all about learning and improving.
Wonderfruit is also unique in its heavy focus on local acts. We’re in a part of the world where, sadly, local musicians are often forced to take a back seat to foreign acts. But here you are pulling from this deep well of talent. Why is this so uncommon?
Perhaps they overlook the fact or don’t dig deep enough into the resources at hand. Diversity of music is not only important but it’s critical to how we perceive our brand. Having faith in local musicians and giving them opportunity is key. That’s also why we created Intermission with Howie B to give up-and-coming artists the chance to play alongside headliners on the main stage. We always give equal billing to local and foreign acts.
Read the complete interview with Pranitan Phornprapha on VICE.
ArtsEquator Radar features articles and posts drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region.