Music with meaning: Bangkok’s peace activist DJ

Music with meaning: Bangkok’s peace activist DJ

Infamous DJ Charly T has a message for the city's unsuspecting clubbers
DJ-cum-peace campaigner Charly T
Bangkok DJ activist Charly T slips messages of peace in among the beats.

Charles Roger Mbouti is a man with a message. The Cameroonian, who has established himself as one of the city's most popular alternative DJs, has been slipping themes of peace and hope into his deck-spinning sessions, hoping his clubbing fans leave his gigs with a little more than their ears ringing. 

Mbouti, aka DJ Charly T, witnessed enough hardship growing up to learn to take life as it comes. “I don’t worry about things because I had so much stress growing up, I learnt not to let things bother me”, he explains with a shrug. He is a well-known face around the city’s club and underground scenes and his unique music and MC style has evolved into its own distinctive form since he moved to Asia.

Sampling West African Couper Decaler and Makossa beats, Raggaeton and African Bambattaa, along with Asian vibes and influences from the numerous countries he has travelled through, Charly T offers Bangkok music lovers something a little different to mainstream dance tracks. A regular in clubs such as Zealot (Narcissus) on Sukhumvit soi 23, Butter Butter on Rachada soi 7 and Gazebo on Khao San road, he pulled in a Wednesday night crowd of over 350 at his recent birthday DJ set. But mixed in with the funky beats are his trademark MC messages of peace, hope and unity, providing clubbers with a more meaningful musical experience.

Formerly a trainer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Duala, Cameroon for five years before his move east, the man himself is straight-talking and charismatic with an impressive CV; he is African Affairs Officer for Developpement Sans Frontières, an NGO working with environmental, HIV/AIDS, youth and gender issues, and travels as a youth representative to international forums around the world.

The moment he left home for Thailand in 2007 however was defining, and inspired him to work towards the Millennium Development Goals. “When I left my country I became a world citizen.”

Otherwise, only football and family take precedence over the decks; he practices his music for at least three hours a day, sometimes getting up in the middle of the night to finish a sample.

Combined, Charly T's passions in life explain the evolution of his very own music and peace mash-up. And do his club promoters mind the block-rockin’ beats being interrupted for one man’s views on peace, love and unity? “No way man, they love it!” Charly T guffaws.

 

Download free mix samples from Charly T’s website or catch him DJ-ing in Bangkok this month

Saturday January 9 -- Zealot Club (formerly Narcissus), Sukhumvit soi 23  

Saturday January 16 -- Elite Boxing Night, Royal Paragon Hall

Friday January 29 -- Lush Party, Dream 2 Hotel, Sukhumvit soi 15