Chris Menist is a writer, DJ and musician who currently resides in the UK.
Alongside his DJ partner Maft Sai (ZudRangMa Records), Chris has hosted the Paradise Bangkok nights for the last 6 years, showcasing vintage Asian sounds as well as music from Africa and the Caribbean. The duo have also taken these nights to Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, and the UK. For their 3rd Anniversary they launched their new Paradise Bangkok imprint, which reissues little known music from across Asia and Africa, and the project now includes The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band (with Chris on percussion duties), whose live shows and debut LP "21st Century Molam" have been received to great acclaim.
In addition, Chris has co-curated the "Sounds of Wonder" series with the Finders Keepers label in the UK, that focusses on reissuing gems from the EMI Pakistan archive, as well as compiling the "Sound of Siam" (Soundway) and "Thai? Dai!" (Finders Keepers) compilations of vintage Thai luk thung, molam and psych music. He also recently compiled Dust-To-Digital's 'Qat, Coffee and Qambus: Raw 45s from Yemen', and wrote the "Black Fire! New Spirits! Radical and Revolutionary Jazz in The USA 1957 - 1982" book for Soul Jazz. Various shows for NTS, a Boiler Room session alongside Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) and appearances on BBC 6 all help spreading the word about the unique Paradise Bangkok sound.
"I have always collected records; for me, it's one of the most reliable ways of interacting with new situations, surroundings and people. I realise this is anachronistic in an age of torrents and high-speed downloads, but it is inspired by one simple fact: there is still so much 20th-century music that lies undocumented. By day I work as an NGO consultant, and over the years have trawled the streets of Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta and Rangoon, often with my portable turntable in tow, looking for vinyl. As well as new music (and old), it has led to conversations and experiences that would otherwise have alluded me. I don’t really see myself as a historian, although I guess in a subjective sense that describes some of what I do, with reference to the research and the record hunting. In terms of career, I mostly do this in my spare time! When I was a kid, maybe 11 years old, I used to buy records from a Woolworths on the way back from school. There was the Top 40 but at that point there was also the Top 100. If you went down to number 90, there was all sorts of weird stuff being made on major labels. They were trying to sell it as pop music but it was never gonna happen. I would occasionally find these strange new wave records or obscure pop records that would inevitably not get bought and be on sale for 50 pence."
*by Alexandru Mustață