Laotian experimental electronic music artist born and raised
David Vilayleck Jamming with Tommy Hanson at Studio Lam, Bangkok. Photo by Suphakorn Buayangtoom
1 June 2019
Text by Thanart Rasanon
Edited by Tommy Hanson
Ayankoko, The music project of David Somphrachanh Vilayleck. He just released his debut full album “Kia Sao” with Chinabot, a record label that explore innovative music created by artists of Asian descent. Studied in the French Conservatories of Perpignan and Strasbourg for Jazz Guitar, Improvised music and composition. Also toured with “Peemai”, the Jazz Band that allows David to explore Jazz in new ways.
He also attempted to discover his root as a Laotian through some of his music. His parent is a Laotian who migrated to France in the 70s. Although he was raised in a European culture, he still wonders about his roots. He released albums with various Net Labels since 2004 including his own record label “Ayan Record”. His music journey is also inspired by various experiences traveling and touring around the world with his band and his music projects.
He just finished an Asia tour with “Peemai” and also had his first “Ayankoko” gig in Bangkok at Studio Lam.
Can you tell me about your equipment and techniques that you used in this recent performance at Studio Lam, Bangkok?
I used a Laptop, Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2i2o and an Akai LPD8 Controller. The software that I used is Ableton for DJing and playing some tracks that I’ve produce, the main stuff used to play some noise is Max/MSP and I used ppooll from ppooll.klingt.org, mainly ported by Klaus Filip who is from Vienna, Austria.
With its Interface & Modules and you can patch whatever you want, like a virtual modular synthesizer. I met Klaus Filip during the tour in Austria and he invited me to his home and showed me some stuffs. He shown me this Max/MSP patch. Really flexible. Can be Sampler, Granular or etc.. One layer is in ableton and another layer is Max/MSP, I moved back and forth. Something I havn’t done often. Usually I use only Max/MSP but today, I wanted to try. I just released music with the Chinabot record label and I produced some beats and electronica stuffs… mostly Improvisation.
Can you tell me the background of your debut album ‘Kia Sao' with Chinabot?
Yes, Saphy Vong the Owner of Chinabot Record Label, I met him first time in Ljubljana, Slovenia around 10 years ago in Noise Music Festival, then we became friends and then he start his record label, so he invited me to be in part of it, I said ‘yes' and then this year he wanted me to release album with his label, he also co-produced it and did artwork for my album. Before this album, I was included in a compilation with Chinabot including tracks from Saphy Vong and Pisitakun as well.
AYANKOKO - Kia Sao
"Kia Sao” is a constant work in progress and for the album we wanted to mix noise material, electronic beat type songs and Asian sounding influences in creative ways.
You studied at the French conservatories of Perpignan and Strasbourg and have a PhD in jazz guitar, improvised music and composition. Why did you choose these places to study at first?
First of all, I started as a self taught guitar player. Then I studied at the French conservatories of Perpignan in Jazz Guitar and my teacher advised me to move to Strasbourg to study more improvised music after that around three or four years later, I began to experiment with electronic stuffs like sampling, computer music to used with my guitar. It started my interest to experiment more with music when I traveled during the the time that I studied jazz improvisation, mostly when I went to Spain and Morocco. Also interested in world music as well like music from Cuba, Morocco. So, when I traveled, I liked to mix any stuffs together like jazz improvisation, but I did it in the sound field area. I like another kind of music as well, before I studied in Jazz, I also played and listened to psychedelic rock like Jimi Hendrix.
Besides Ayankoko, you work as a professional jazz musician as well right? How do they effect each other?
I toured Europe as Ayankoko more than I played as a jazz guitar player with my Jazz Band “Peemaï” included my brother “Alfred Vilayleck”. My experimental gigs are more DIY than my Jazz Band gigs. Also, in the Jazz band that I’m playing right now, I also did some ambient stuffs when did toured with Jazz Band, also did collaboration with ‘Morlam' traditional Laos musician as well.
Peemaï international jazz day vientiane laos
Which teacher is your favorite and how have they motivated you?
When I studied in Perpignan, Professor 'Denis Dufour' from GRM groupe de recherche musicale. He studied with the French pioneers of electronic music Pierre Schaefer and Pierre Henry (in the 1950’s), who let me experiment with a tape recorder, chop and screw. Before, I studied Music Concrete, it’s more like composing, then I moved out to do music in a more improvisational method, not think too much, like taking a picture. I did it for 15 years. Also, my guitar teacher Serge Lazarevitch who studied at the Berklee College of Music with Pat Metheny and Mick Goodrick. I was lucky to have him in my hometown in my early years of music learning.
Photo by Suphakorn Buayangtoom
You use sampling field recordings from Laotian villages. How you got those sampling?
Actually, I just wanted to have samples that related to my descents. All the projects is about my life. So basically I’d found a good sampling from sound resources that are collected in this website
There was some traditional, tribal stuffs. Really interesting for me. Actually, I was born in France, I don’t know much about my root culture. The first time I went to Laos was just 3 years ago with my Jazz Band ““Peemaï”, when we did our first gig in Laos. My parents relocated to France since the 1970s, around the time that Laos transform from a kingdom to communist nation. I didn’t went to Laos and record those sounds, some sounds I used sources from Youtube, I’m searching for Laos documentaries and picked some sounds from them.
Your parents immigrated from Laos to France. How has this influenced your life?
I was raised in Europe, My life was surround by the European culture. Got an education from France and Europe basically. I heard my mom speak Laos sometime. I can speak Laos, but only basic words. My mom migrated for studied but also evacuated from Laos to avoid communism rule. Many Laos people migrated to Europe or US to start a new life.
Where does the name ‘Ayankoko' Come from? Can you talk about your project and your label?
I traveled to Cuba. There was a traditional trance music called ’Santería’, which is a ritual trance music to heal people, mainly with sacred percussion called batas, chants and dance. I stayed two months in a family of Bataleros in La Havana. During the ceremony they call saints and colors in a very similar way to Morroco gnawa trance music. Ayan is mean ‘spirit’ in cuba and I really attracted by this word and mixed with 'Ko-Ko’ word that is actually a song by Charlie Parker the Jazz Musician.
Photo by Suphakorn Buayangtoom
Basically, I promoted myself on Net Labels and I started to released music from a net label around 2004 which can be download for free. When I was in Barcelona I found the guy who runs a net label called “Harzard Records”. And start to did released with net label. I started to release my music with many net labels and communities I discovered on the internet, first with the guy from Barcelona, Spain and then with other labels from Germany, Mexico, and Russia. It’s less commercialized because people could stream and download them for free. Just spread out music through media via the internet. So, after I released with many net labels, I started to do my own net label called 'Ayan Record’ around 2008. When I like some stuffs, I tried to released them. It has helped me a lot to promote myself and to organize some tours because it was easy to spread out to people, first with platforms like MySpace then Soundcloud and I could speak with organizer everywhere and I just present them that I want to make a tour, this is my net label, this is what I did. For almost 10 years traveled, meeting new people, it was really nice. Actually the underground communities are huge when collected from all around the world. Most of my early tour was in Berlin, 2008 to 2009. There is a really big scene in Berlin. When you go somewhere you don’t know, suddenly you so know some new interesting people because they had similar interest with you.
After a noise festival, I met Saphy Vong again in Latvia, he relocated himself many times, at first in France, then Berlin, sometime in Rica, Latvia and then he settled in London. After he went to Cambodia for 2 years. I met Pisitakun last year in London for the first time, we did the show in 'Cafe Oto’, London with Lafidki (Saphy Vong).
You toured a lot around Europe, did you ever have some gigs in US?
I was performing in New York around 2009. I was in Morocco and I met an American musician when I did a jazz gig in the hotel. He impressed me and then invited me to play in New York, and then I book myself to tour for noise music in New York. Living in his place went there and hanging around, performed around 5 gigs, I also performed at ’The Stone’, music space founded by John Zorn.
Kia Sao is out now via Chinabot.
Favorite Music Artists
Ali Farka Toure
Favorite Music Album
Chinese Classical Music radio.fr
Pan-Pot Live set
Lost Highway - David Lynch
The Godfather - Francis Ford Coppola
Dead Ringers - David Cronenberg
Fargo - Joel and Ethan Coen
Upgrade - Leigh Whannell
Interpreter Assistant by Worrawan Chailert
Shooting Location : Studio Lam, Bangkok