Whilst living in Japan, Holly Terrens met Japanese producer Tomoaki Hirata. The pair soon starting collaborating, writing Thai artist Jan Chan’s first solo single following her departure from BNK48. The song debuted at #2 in Thailand’s iTunes charts. They’ve gone on to write her follow up singles, supporting her on stage at Thailand’s biggest indie music festival ‘Cat Expo 5’.
Follow Holly on her Bangkok adventures!
I leave Brisbane at 2:30am. I’m anticipating a hectic schedule which I’m super excited for, but also grateful for the spare seat next to me, meaning that I’ll catch some zzz’s on my way to Singapore. I arrive to Changi Airport feeling fairly fresh, check out the sunflower garden, and then I’m back in the air for the final leg to Bangkok.
Once I arrive to BKK, I’m met by Aston Cowie, the Artist Relations guy, and it’s straight to the venue to soundcheck. The festival, Cat Expo 5, is held at an old theme park called ‘Wonder World Extreme Park’. Sadly, it’s no longer in operation, but it’s a cool spot for a music festival. I meet Jan Chan briefly before we jump on stage and go through the songs. I can’t yet comprehend what the space will look like filled with people.
Afterwards, the five of us, Jan Chan, her manager Katsuta Takahito (Marc), my collaborator Tomoaki, Aston and I grab a late dinner. With so much communication over the past few months being via the internet, it’s nice to enjoy a meal together as a team before heading to No Sound In Space to rehearse.
I’m completely blown away by the amazing architecture and keep fangirling all over the rehearsal space/studio/house and patting the cat. It’s nice to rehearse in a more intimate setting and I think by this stage, we’re all feeling ready for tomorrow’s performance. I love hearing my lyrics being sung by a great pop star.
I flop into bed after midnight, exhausted but buzzing with excitement.
I’ve got the morning free so I explore the area around Pathum Wan near my hotel. The area is filled with huge shopping malls and embassies. After satisfying my 3ce makeup addiction at Siam Square, it was back to the hotel to get ready. Two hours is my sweet spot for getting ready for gigs as I do my hair, make up, a short meditation and vocal warm ups.
We meet our van driver in the lobby around 4pm. Everywhere we travelled wasn’t so far away, but Bangkok’s hectic traffic means allowing for extra travel time. We’d be in the van for up to an hour at a time and it was very comfortable, so we all caught up on a little sleep. The team and I headed to dinner before getting to the venue at around 7:30pm, a little under an hour before Jan’s performance.
The team gathered by the side of the stage as we waited to perform, with the addition of her parents, tech crew, singing teacher, and CEO of Honda Thailand – one of her sponsors.
Jan Chan hugged her singing teacher and then it was showtime! Jan Chan puts on a fun, energetic show. Some fans enthusiastically sang along whilst others were more focused on capturing the show on their phones. As I sat down to the keyboard to play the final tune ‘Piece of Home’, a song I penned on the piano, seeing 1000’s of glow sticks in the air was an incredible feeling.
We jumped off stage and took more photos together before heading to the fan booth. Pop Idol fan culture is unlike anything we have in the west, Jan Chan’s fans are truly devoted to supporting her career. I was surprised that fans were also interested in meeting me, one even had a gift for Tomoaki and I!
I decided to make use of my other free morning by doing a session at a nearby Muay Thai gym before meeting Marc and Tomoaki for lunch, then it was back to Wonder World Extreme Park for day two of Cat Expo 5.
It’s great to get the chance to check out the festival, the indie music scene in Thailand is seriously cool!
Over at Jan Chan’s booth, her fans were gathered, waiting for her arrival. One was sharing his merchandise ideas with Marc, another was dressed like Jan. Over the next two and a half hours, Jan Chan’s team sold t-shirts as she connected with her fans, each one completely enamoured by her as they waited in line to have a small moment with the pop idol. ‘This is the power of a great pop star’ I thought.
Later as we watched bands from the side of the stage, Jan asked me ’What do you see when you look at this?’, pointing to the abstract painting she designed for her newest t-shirts. The designed seemed to hold different meaning for everyone, and I liked that she asked me. I saw a volcano.
I got back to the hotel around 10:30, ordered room service, packed my suitcase and went fast asleep.
Jan Chan is a guest actress in an upcoming line.tv (similar to Netflix) drama, a Thai remake of a popular Japanese series ‘Ashita Mama Ga Inai’ (translated as Tomorrow, Mother will not be here). In Thailand, before the commencement of a project release, it’s customary to conduct a Buddhist ceremony with Monks. A song I wrote ‘Piece of Home’ will be featured in the series and I was so honoured to be invited to the ceremony.
We met in the lobby at 7am en route to the ceremony and press conference. Though everything was in Thai, I felt as though I could understand what was going on around me. As everyone offered incense and flowers and bowed their heads, I did the same.
Afterwards, we shared a farewell lunch at MK for what I discovered is the best: green noodles. Here, we talked about more music releases for Jan Chan. Having the chance to spend a bit of time with Jan Chan and the team collectively was really great as everyone shared their thoughts and ideas.
Our final stop before my departure was to watch the final cut of ‘Piece of Home’ and meet the production company. I fell asleep in the van before arriving to the video studio and was shocked when we arrived to a big office tower. I was expecting to watch it at someone’s home but instead, the production company had a mini theatre in their office! As we said our goodbyes, Jan Chan offered me the Japanese tenugui towels she designed, I gave her some Cadbury marvellous creations, then I was off to Phuket!
What a whirlwind! So much happened in just four days that it took awhile for my brain to catch up. It’s wonderful to be living my passion of music and working as part of truly talented and hardworking team. Thailand is such a beautiful country and I’m glad I could experience it though listening to great Thai bands and meeting wonderful people.