written by Harris Woodman September 28, 2017
What is Girls Rock Asia and why is RSM Thailand throwing its support behind this initiative?
2015 marked the planning phase for an underground all female music scene featuring girl bands from all over Asia. The strategy was to search for all girl rock bands that already exist in Asia or alternatively individual talented female musicians not attached to bands and persuade them to team up together to form rock and pop bands to enter an all-female battle of the bands competition at a future date with prize money totaling USD10,000 for the successful winning band. The concept was to move away from the traditional manufactured pretty girl’s bands such as the Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child and the Bangles who largely sing pretty harmonies to recorded backing music and move towards full female bands with a drummer, guitarist(s), keyboard player and vocalists with a more raw and gutsy sound. In Asia, this concept is a new one which had never been undertaken before.
The pioneer of this idea was Clive Gibson, an Australian entrepreneur who runs and owns a successful chauffeured car airport transfer company in Melbourne and a dedicated call centre in Manila, Philippines. Girls Rock Asia (“GRA”) is his brainchild. Clive has spent many years following various genres of music and as a result he states in his own words “I saw a lack of opportunity for girl musicians and in particular girls in all girl bands several years ago. Constant work is not available and although that is true for many musicians in general, I felt it was harder for girl bands that play and sing. At the moment, we are part way towards providing not just a platform for our girls but also long term continuous work for girls that can and do join our community. There is still a lot of work to do but we are truly on the way.”
Clive ‘s vision therefore is to provide opportunities to female Asian musicians that are struggling to find their first break in the cutthroat music industry.
One night when visiting Bangkok, Clive met EarthCollide or Khun Rapeeporn Anantariyakul a seasoned rocker who was belting out popular numbers in English to a large group of adoring fans at Bangkok Betty’s in Sukhumvit. Clive spoke briefly to EarthCollide about his vision and promised to make contact with her again on his next visit to Thailand to discuss his innovative all girls’ rock band idea. Unfortunately, EarthCollide was not playing at Bangkok Betty’s on the next occasion that Clive visited Bangkok, but he did find his way into the famous Titanium Bar on Sukhumvit, Soi 22 where the Bangkok based female professional rock band the Unicorn Band were performing. The Unicorn Band is a six-piece girls band led by Dom or Khun Napak Boonruang who as well as playing six nights a week at the Titanium Bar, is also well known on the Thai expat circuit having performed with her Unicorn Band at many of the largest expatriate calendar events including The Melbourne Cup, St George’s Ball and the BCCT Xmas lunch to name but a few. Inspired by the all-female ensemble it became clear to Clive that more all-female groups needed to be discovered and promoted quickly so Clive hired a PR company in Thailand to track EarthCollide down, explain his vision in more detail and begin the hard work ahead on this exciting project. Clive and EarthCollide entered into a joint venture devising a plan to put together a competition and calling it “Battle of the ‘All Female’ Bands” at the end of 2016 to launch this new exciting initiative.
The next two years has seen a terrific period of growth for GRA and the search for all female bands adopting various methods including social media. This initiative resulted in a tester concert in 2016 made up of EarthCollide and The Stalkers launching the 3 Thai GRA competition bands at the Quaint Restaurant in Sukhumvit with a 3-day event the following week held at Dexter’s in Sathorn and Quaint in Sukhumvit with 5 bands competing in total. Attendees at the event were treated to a set by EarthCollide herself and her faithful and long-term band The Stalkers followed by GRA competition bands the Grumps ably led by veteran guitarist and lead singer of Unicorn fame, Ms Appetizer and the Simple Band from Thailand and The Metal Muffins and Greenberries from Cebu in the Philippines. This event also welcomed a new sponsor to the project with RSM Thailand Limited becoming involved with MD Gareth Vaughan Hughes invited to become one of the 4 tournament judges.
Gareth stated “I was excited when EarthCollide invited me and RSM Thailand to participate in GRA. And it was an easy decision to accept as I used to play bass guitar in various bands many years ago and more recently I have been building a collection of guitars. In addition, RSM Thailand is an audit, accounting, legal, tax and recruitment firm which is part of the RSM International global network which is the 6th largest in the world and we sponsor exciting and innovative events such as the US PGA and European Business Awards. RSM International takes gender equality extremely seriously and can boast to be the first top 10 accounting network to appoint a global female CEO. RSM Thailand’s staff is 70% female and over 50% of our directors and associate directors are female. So, having an interest in music as well as being part of an international network that supports gender equality there were immediate synergies between RSM and GRA.”
The GRA 2016 competition was extremely successful with the competition being won by the closest of margins by the Thai band, The Grumps led by Khun Dom of the Unicorn Band.
Subsequent to the 2016 competition a number of concerts have been held featuring the Thai GRA bands with the first at Christmas time in Sukhumvit with Wasabi Bytes. Followed by the April Fool’s Day Rock Festival at Hyde Park, Don Muang. Molly Malone’s Irish Bar Silom. The LGBT 2016 Concert, Phuket for a radio station and more recently at our new partner the Hard Rock Café Siam’s venue which was highly successful.
The 2017 Battle of the All-Female Bands competition has just been announced and will occur over a 3 day period again between 30th November 2017 and 3rd December 2017 at the Hard Rock Café – Bangkok and GRA is already receiving applications from various Asian girl bands