My name is Aey, Kuljira Thongkong. I was a contestant in the Voice Thailand Season 3. I currently sing in bars and at weddings, and I’m in the band Beagle Hug.
Could you tell us your story before you competed in the Voice?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved music. I wasn’t very good in school, but I was good in art, music, and language classes. So I decided to study it in university and started working since freshmen year. I sang after class at night. I was very broke at that moment, I didn’t have much money. My dad still thought of me as a kid and gave me 500 baht per night. But I had a lot of fun. As time went by, I started feeling like I had to improve. I wanted to make music and I knew I wanted to do something more. My friends told me to try auditioning to open doors for myself.
Did you study music?
I never studied music seriously, but when I wanted to go to university, I went to take classes and got in.
Did your way of life change after the contest?
I think it changed quite a bit. Before the contest, I wasn’t very responsible because I was young. I was quite mischievous. I think everything settled slowly. After I became part of the Voice, people came up to me and asked why I wasn’t a certain way. Nice people came in to my life, bad people came into my life. I got to know more people. I was very hot-tempered and got upset easily so I didn’t want to go meet people at all. After some adjustments, I felt like it was such a good opportunity. I have work, I have money and I get to work with so many talented people. I used to be easily upset before because when I encountered bad people in life, I just wanted to shut everyone out. But after a while, like right now, I feel very happy. I never regret being part of the contest and I want to thank the show because it has taught me the kind of people I should stay away from and the kind I should keep close. It has taught me to be more responsible and to people around me as well.
The experiences have continuously taught you, right?
Why did you decide to become a singer?
Because since I was a kid, I’ve always enjoyed singing and listening to music. I often woke up listening to my parent’s music; I’d hear their records playing and I would hum along with them. Mostly they would play western music, like Bee Gees or something like that. So I was always singing western music and some traditional Thai music that I got from my grandmother when I was young. But I was very shy, I never participated in any school activities that were related to singing but I knew I could sing.
So where did you sing?
I sang at home or when I’m with friends. We would sing together with a guitar or something like that. But back then, I felt like I was crazy about singing, almost to the point of obsession. I was also very crazy about drawing when I was younger. When I had to continue my studies, I thought about it and I felt like it was okay to do both because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future. But I felt like with music, I could learn more because I didn’t want someone to teach me how to draw. Now, I don’t remember what your question was. (laughing)
What is the genre of music you sing right now?
Which genre do I usually sing?
When I sing at night, it’s usually pop, western pop, more oldie pop, or 90s pop songs, like ‘Say what you want.’ I also sing older songs from John Denver or Don McLean. As I grow older, I listen to more British music and other bands that people like to listen to.
So, it’s a genre that you like?
And you sing them.
Yes, but I actually I listen to a lot of music. I can listen to different things. Sometimes before bed, I listen to classical music because I get bored of the things I usually listen to.
Are there any other genres that you want to try to sing because they’re challenging?
I know I’m not a diva, I feel like I don’t have the power to sing like a diva. But I like to listen to them, like Beyonce. I feel like I want to try it once, I want to be able to sing it but at the moment I still can’t.
So you haven’t sung it?
Yes, I’ve never tried. I just sing it with friends in the car.
Did you ever think about singing them in bars?
No. I feel like diva songs are out of my character. If you usually sing a certain type of song and then you change to sing something else, it doesn’t suit you. But if you do it once in a while to surprise your friends, it would be nice.
What is your influence in lifestyle and fashion?
Let me think about it. It starts from music, from artists that I admire. Back then I would look at how people dress. Many years ago, I sold clothes at JJ market. A friend was selling second-hand clothes and she was very good at mixing and matching clothes. I thought she was very cute so I bought a lot of clothes from her shop and we became friends. And I tried on some styles and I started mixing my own style. Everything has come to help me dress the way I do right now. Today I want to dress this way. Today I want to dress that way. I pick and choose to come up with my own style. It started from music and JJ market. What is your character in terms of fashion? My character, I thought about it too. Why do I sometimes dress so simply, a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans, sometimes I dress up a lot, not too much, but a lot. I don’t like to wear perfect magazine-like clothes. I like to dress up like it doesn’t match, sometimes I look like a homeless. I like simple clothes but with something interesting. I think a lot in my head, so sometimes it comes out as a bit messy.
Do you think an artist’s appearance relates to his/her music?
I think they do. It’s a way of presenting. But everyone’s performance is different. For example, a diva is a serious artist with a big stage, she can’t wear t-shirt and shorts, it’s not right. It has to be something that attracts people, it has to be something that matches the music. I think every type of genre needs its own costume but it’s not black and white. It doesn’t have to be that exact. In some acoustic concerts, the artist shows up in t-shirt and a pair of jeans. That’s his/her way of showing that the music is casual and easy to listen to. It’s just a connection. The clothes define who the artist is. But it doesn’t mean they have to wear their looks all the time out in the streets, that would be weird.
What is your identity in singing, and how do you portray it?
I’m very shy when I sing. I don’t talk and look at the audience much. To be able to concentrate on stage with people looking at me was very difficult in the beginning. I still get nervous so it became my identity that I usually focus on singing and I close my eyes often. I don’t dance or entertain the audience much. But what I focus on is the lyrics of the song and the voice I use to tell a story. I don’t get too technical but I try to use my feelings first, because then it will turn out good. I don’t start with the technical stuff because it will be frigid so I use my feelings first when I sing.
You have a style of your own. What helps you decide the outfit you wear on stage?
My room is very messy. Most of the time, I don’t think much. I usually pick some things up and Imix it with something else, it looks good or funny, and I’ll just leave the house like that. I’m not very serious about it unless the event is quite big, then I will dress better with something more. But usually when I’m in a hurry, I’ll just pick anything up and quickly
choose something and leave. But all my clothes are easy to match anyways because they’re all something I like. No matter what I choose, they match.
For you, it doesn’t matter if it’s on stage or off stage, it’s still you.
Yes, it’s not different.
If you weren’t a singer, what would you do?
I never thought about it. I went to audition for commercials and I thought it was fun but not that fun. I enjoy acting, and I think it’s challenging. Another thing I like doing is being a waitress. My dad’s a flight attendant. He has a service mind; wherever we go out to have dinner, he would say thank you and help them clear the table. So I got that from him, when you provide service to people, it’s a pleasure for yourself. If you meet nice people, you will feel like you gave them service. I like to work at bars more than restaurants because I get to meet a lot of people. I don’t like meeting too many people but when you wait tables, you get to meet them and it’s a job that allows you to meet people without saying anything much, just ‘what would you like,’ ‘do you want anything else.’ I also like drawing, I forgot to say that I really like drawing but I never studied it. I didn’t know what to sell, but I sold t-shirts and I enjoyed it too.
How do you view your future?
I have no idea. I think I’ll continue singing because I thought about it too. I’m stressed because I know I can’t sing forever. Some days my voice will not sound the same so I don’t know where the future will take me. But I’ll do my best in the present.
If you have to think about it…your future?
I will have to save some money and invest in something because I really can’t think about it. Money is an important factor for the future. If I have the money, I would want to live in a nearby province or in Chiangmai and come to Bangkok once in a while because I still want to party.
If you had to choose a song that best describes IRADA, what would it be?
It’s classic so I don’t want to choose new songs. At first, I wanted to choose ‘Loving is easy’, but it’s too new, too teen. IRADA is not really for teenagers. ‘The more I see you’ by Chris Montez is probably the one. It’s simple but IRADA has details that look more
interesting when you keep looking at them. It’s like ‘the more I see you, the more I want you.’
What are the channels that we can follow you?
Right now I’m very dedicated with the band Beagle Hug. It’s a genre that can’t be described. If I had to describe it, it’s alternative pop with a bit of trip hop. I don’t know how to explain it. Please follow Beagle Hug. I also sing at weddings too, you can hire me as well.
Thank you so much.
Is it okay?