Of all the things I didn’t expect to find during my week-long holiday, it was a vinyl pressing plant in Bangkok.
We were hanging out with Thai indie rock trio Tilly Birds at Studio 28, talking about their albums, and they happened to mention that their records were made “just over there.” We peeked out the window, and they pointed to a small structure right across the studio.
It was too late to check it out then, but we took a shot and reached out to the owners the day after The Strokes’ concert. Thankfully, they were also in town for the same show; they replied straightaway, and we managed to pull our schedules together for the day to meet in the early evening.
As we finally got the chance to step inside the intriguing vinyl press, we were greeted warmly by Sarit Narukatpichai and Traithep Wongpaiboon. The pair opened ResurRec. Boutique Vinyl Lab in October 2019 and haven’t looked back since.
Sarit, who was running a small guest house in Phuket, thought of the idea way back in 2016, when he was looking for a new business to venture into. “I’m a DJ myself, so I thought, ‘why not start a pressing plant?’ It shouldn’t be that hard, I’ve seen a few videos [on YouTube]. I was tricked.” [laughs]
With the resurgence of Thai album reissues and reprints, he felt there was a need and enough demand for a vinyl pressing plant in the country, so he consulted a friend who was in the music industry. “He said, ‘If you want to do it, I think it’s a good idea.’ And that’s how I was introduced to Traithep Wongpaiboon.”
A respected name in the music industry, Traithep Wongpaiboon is an award-winning sound designer and producer, as well as one-half of electropop duo, Kidnappers. More than a vinyl enthusiast, Traithep learned vinyl dubplate cutting in Berlin, and has been making custom vinyl records for about a decade before joining hands with Sarit for ResurRec.
Originally set to be located in Phuket, Sarit’s hometown, plans had to be rearranged when their financier decided to back out of the project at the last minute. “We had all the plans in place – construction, downpayment for rent, etc. But on the day we were supposed to sign the contract, my dad said: ‘I don't agree with what you're trying to do.’”
“We were so passionate [about it], and we wanted to get it going,” Sarit shared. The thought of being the first modern vinyl pressing plant in Southeast Asia was a dream come true for both of them, and just when it all seemed to be tumbling down, Traithep gave Sarit a call. “Hey, we have already made like 95% progress. Let's not throw it away. What if we moved [it] to Bangkok. We just have to do it. Otherwise, the idea and the drive are gonna go away. It's really hard to pull from that.”
Traithep became the main investor, as well as took on the role of CEO, and with Sarit as the company’s COO (and the rest of his father’s investment), they bought two manual pressing machines from Germany to kickstart ResurRec.
What used to be a small garden at the parking lot of Studio 28, around 40 minutes away from Bangkok’s city centre, has since been converted into a little over 200 square metre structure. The one-story building houses their office, storage, and pressing machines.
Opening six months before the pandemic happened, the two used the time to learn their new craft and business – sourcing quality suppliers, the best vinyl cutters and plating houses, mastering studios, and more. Their first client was a little unconventional and somewhat challenging in terms of requirements. “It wasn’t for sale. It was a special item for BMW customers.” Their first press also didn’t start with the classic black vinyl, as they were tasked to produce the records in four variants – red, blue, white, and grey. The record featured a commissioned song performed by Thai hip-hop icons, Thaitanium, along with a few other Thai tracks licensed for the special order.
Since then, ResurRec has produced over 200 titles, 80% of which are by Thai artists. They’ve pressed records for the likes of TELEX TELEXs, Srirajah Rockers, Blackbeans, BULLETGUYZ, and more. Thai duo HYBS had 5,000 copies of Making Steak pressed, which was also sold in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. “We’re quite fortunate that our music industry, and local content and local support are good. Artists and labels here want to have a physical album. It’s like an achievement for them.” Aside from having a physical record to preserve an artist’s legacy, Sarit also pointed out that selling 500 records versus streaming an album 500 times is also significant for an artist’s income.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, an avalanche of orders came in once people realised it wasn’t just going to last a few weeks. Traithep shared that the pandemic gave people the time and opportunity to actually listen to records at home, while musicians also had more time to work on new music. However, the pandemic also presented certain challenges such as a longer turnaround time of 6 to 7 months per order (it has since returned to the normal waiting time of 3 months). “To get the master, there was a queue. There was a queue everywhere,” Traithep quipped.
As the first modern vinyl pressing plant in Southeast Asia (PHR Pressing in Indonesia which opened this month is the second), they also started getting clients from nearby countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam. Traithep shared that one of their clients is an audiophile record label from the US, and that made them confident of the level and quality of the records their vinyl press produces.
Labels and artists who would like to work with them just need to reach out and let their team know what they need. According to Sarit, it would depend on the level of involvement the client would want. Some clients, like the Tilly Birds, have everything set from the get-go – from the vinyl master to the design, while others need a little more hand-holding. ResurRec is happy to help from start to finish, providing turnkey services for artists and labels who want their music on vinyl. They can even take care of outsourcing cassette duplication and CD pressing for their clients, as well as referring a printing partner for album packaging.
“These days, everyone wants a different record,” Sarit said. Their two-machine manual vinyl pressing plant can produce one record in 45 seconds with 500 black vinyl records per day, and around 300 coloured records daily, depending on the design. While black remains a classic, and the best-sounding record they would recommend, ResurRec also prides itself in what they refer to as “special records”. The showroom is filled with dozens of vibrant records on display, variations of splatter vinyl, marbled vinyl records, all sorts of coloured records, as well as picture records.
“The best would [still] be would be black, because that's the standard. But I would also boast a little bit about coloured records, because the formula has been developed quite advanced in recent years. So it sounds better now. Sometimes, there’s no difference [from] black records. But the tone and the response may vary from different colours.” Since most of the raw materials are also sourced locally, there is a variety of colours to choose from, and if what the client wants isn’t readily available, ResurRec can help source another supplier, or play around and experiment with the existing colours and designs they have.
Since both partners are in the music industry themselves, they also put a little more care into making sure they provide a good product, and work with the best suppliers and professionals. “Your relationship with the cutting engineer is important. Some people treat it as art, some people see it as just another job. This is where we came in as well. We have a good relationship with our partners. If there’s anything off, they would let us know. They wouldn’t let it slip,” Sarit added.
Their philosophy since they started was to “create a good record,” and looking at their showroom filled with rows and rows of vinyl, shelves of albums, and overflowing boxes of records waiting to be delivered, it’s safe to say that they’ve done way more than that. Sarit and Traithep, together with their dedicated team and partners at ResurRec, have helped artists realise their dreams of preserving their music on a vinyl record, and are instrumental in cultivating a community of music listeners and vinyl enthusiasts not just in Thailand, but wherever their carefully pressed records end up.
ResurRec. Boutique Vinyl Lab is located at 15, 126 Krungthep Kritha, Thap Chang, Saphan Sung, Bangkok 10250, Thailand. Get in touch here.
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