Far from the face-painted mania of EDMers, copy-paste/pop-remix addicts and hip-hop hordes where DJs spend more time posing than sequencing, there are those who craft their sounds through years of hard work.
Mongkorn Timkul, aka DJ Mongkorn aka Dragon may sometimes dabble in disco or trifle with techno, but his heart pumps blood through only two chambers, one marked “drum” and the other “bass.”
Not to make him feel old, but Mongkorn’s not stopped since the turn of the century when he helped build D&B up from nothing in Bangkok. Just earlier this month he took the stage at the Red Bull Thre3Style World DJ Championships to compete against seven other DJs.
Not bad for a dude who at 39 is a geezer in the DJ world.
We caught up with one of Bangkok’s most influential DJs to talk about what woke his dragon for D&B, DJ battles and all the babes in his life (a real one; no joke).
For those just joining us in reality, how did you became DJ Dragon and when did your career first hatch?
My Thai name is Mongkorn, which translates into English means “Dragon.” A long time ago, one of the promoters I worked with didn’t want me to put “mongkorn” on the flyer because it sounded “too Thai,” and wanted a Western-sounding name. So dragon was a direct translation of mongkorn. My nickname is Patrick though. But it sounds a lot better than “DJ Patrick.”
In ninth grade I got a pair of turntables for my Christmas present. But I have always loved music. But I guess my start was when I used to DJ at high school dances in 10th grade.
Tell us about the Red Bull Thre3style World DJ Championships.
It was a very humbling experience. First off many of the newer guys are awesome DJs (and) have much better technique than me. I was blown away by all of their performances. DJ Spydamonkee’s set was my favorite for that night. He was truly amazing! I have so much more respect for him as an artist and as a DJ. Last thing about the event is it really opened my eyes up to see the true potential of digital DJing. Anything is possible now with programs like Traktor and Serato. It is something that I will have to try and master. I’ve got so much more practicing to do and much more to learn. In all that Red Bull event was great. I hope I get a chance to compete in it again.
From Homebass to Dubway, you’ve been doing it dark and heavy for a couple decades now. How did you land in the sweaty underground with D&B, and how does then compare to today?
I started out as a hip-hop DJ but eventually got into going to raves during my senior year in high school. I really got into D&B because it was so dark, heavy and sophisticated – completely different from any other style of music that was around in those days.
When I started with DJ Wen we couldn’t even get a night on Friday or Saturday. We had to beg club owners just to get a weekday early slot. Nobody really liked D&B, and everybody thought it was some stupid fad. Since then it’s blown up, and I reckon it’s doing quite well here in Thailand. Guys like phatfunk and Dave Specialist have brought over some of the best D&B DJs to play in BKK. Yaak Lab and King Kong are selling their own tunes on Beatport. So I think the scene has grown and is very strong.
You’ve got the long-view on the Bangkok DJ industry, what can you say about it?
I started DJing professionally since ’99, and I’m still broke. I guess as a industry it varies from who you talk to. Some folks have made a lot of money from this shiznit while some haven’t. I guess I feel a lot of love for the bkk scene and still have the energy to keep going after all these years. The scene has had its ups and downs. I was here since beginning and I plan on staying right to the end. Bangkok is my home, and I love it here.
Finally, what are you working on right now, and where can we party with you?
My wife and I are expectIng our babies to be born in September, so I am not playing too many gigs at the moment. So I guess we are both getting ready for their arrival. Next event will be playing is the Jam three-year anniversary party on July 18. Besides that I will be in my studio making beats, learning about my new digital DJ program traktor and perfecting my turntable skills.
Mongkorn Timkul (DJ Mongkorn) – The Harbour