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Feb 2, 2012

THE HIT MAKER : Nitipong Honark

THE HIT MAKER : Nitipong Honark

Songwriter Nitipong Honark reveals the secrets

behind his Midas lyrical touch


Published: 28/01/2009 at 12:00 AM

Bangkok Post : Outlook

For most songwriters, their careers
begin when pop stars choose to sing
those songs they have written and
make them a hit.
Yes, that is the case for the
less fortunate ones, but for
true professionals like Nitipong Honark,
singers are queuing up
for his hit-making lyrics.

Known among friends and fans as Phi Dee, Nitipong has earned his fame mostly from writing heart-scratching lyrics and brilliant songs filled
with catchy hooks. Name any hit song off the top of your head and
chances are good it belongs to Nitipong.

Presently he has penned almost 350 songs in his 25 years
in the music industry.
His songs are behind the success of Thailand's top singers,
from pop star Thongchai "Byrd" McIntyre and dancing queen
Christana Aguilar to rock brothers Asanee and Wasant Chotikul.

To many, Nitipong and GMM Grammy seem to be inseparable.
However, there have been rumours that the man with the golden pen
has decided to walk away from the company
he has been working with for half his lifetime.

"It was only a rumour, really. I am still a member of this company,
keeping the same title, but there has been
a slight change of my role recently,"
said Nitipong, the executive vice-president of GMM Grammy.
But what exactly has changed?

Nitipong explained that as a senior member of the board,
he is supposed to be in charge of the company,
both musically and commercially.
However, in the end, he realised that he had to choose
between using the left or right side of his brain.

"[The] Music business has encountered a crisis during
the last 10 years since the digital era emerged.
People hardly pay for music or, to be precise, support the legal products.

To win this war, the company must come up with a tough strategy
and I don't see myself as a front-row warrior.
It is absolutely out of my control.

Finally, I decided to back off and let the professionals run the battle.
Now, I lessen my role in the business part and keep doing
what I do best ... writing songs," said the 48-year-old songwriter
with a trace of relief.

In 1981, while still completing his degree in architecture
at Chulalongkorn University, Nitipong recalls that during
his last years in college he spent most of the time working
in the entertainment business, from television programme
producer to radio deejay.
The following year, Nitipong became a member
of the famous early-'80s pop band Chaliang,
which was comprised of his fellow architect students.

I think people recognise me from my days in Chaliang," he said. Nitipong began writing songs for his band and the song Kao Chai
(to understand) was the first song
he penned.
However, his first hit was actually
a piece called Dontri Nai Duang Chai
(music in my heart),
on the soundtrack for the movie
Wai Ra Reung. A few years later,
his life turned when his songwriting skills were discovered
by one of GMM Grammy's founders,
the legendary singer Rewat "Ter" Buddhinan.

"I believe I was the first songwriter in the country who
earned a monthly salary.
Back then, most songwriters got paid by piece.
Thanks to Phi Ter for trusting me enough to
add a 'songwriter' position to the company,"
said Nitipong with a smile on his face.

While other names in the same career stay inside the CD covers,
unknown, Nitipong is one of the very few songwriters to be
remembered by listeners.
Over 20 years is indeed a long time.
Some might say that it's no surprise that he wrote some
hits while working for such a long time.
But how can he keep his lyrics fresh and touching
to listeners of all ages, and at the same time smash the music charts?
"You must listen to all kinds of music.
That is the basic rule," he revealed.
"And also reading books of any kind is definitely a must.

My favourite is dharma books, and don't get me wrong,
I am not trying to say that I'm a very religious person,"
Nitipong urged spontaneously.

"I have my good and bad side just like others.
But those words in dharma books help me
focus after reading such practical ideas in life."

"It was the beautiful and simple language I found impressive.
Some quotes, examples or metaphors are perfect
material for writing a good song," he remarked.

And this is exactly what his songs are most famous for
- lyrics filled with words of wisdom that are inspired
by very simple things in our daily life.

For the last two years his face has been a regular
one in the media. In 2007, GMM Grammy decided to throw
a concert for Nitipong's 25th anniversary,
a tribute to his legendary status as songwriter.
His concert was the talk-of-the-town event of the year.
The concert was even divided into two shows
as the selected 60 hit tracks couldn't fit into a one-day showcase.

"It was quite awkward for me to be at that concert.
I don't like the 'me, myself and I' kind of feeling.
At first, I wasn't going to go but everyone insisted
that they wanted me to," Nitipong said.
And if you have seen the show,
it is obvious he was nervous on stage.

The year 2008 was Nitipong's most exciting year ever.
Last March, Nitipong surprised Bangkok citizens
when he was announced publicly as Bangkok senate
candidate number 29. Nitipong wasn't elected to be a senator;
however, he gained over 200,000 votes as
the first runner-up of the election.

The result marked a phenomenon in which a songwriter
could receive such great trust in the field of politics.

"I was just fed up to witness all the dirty business
that keeps going non-stop in our society.
So, one day I was reading a newspaper and
I checked that my background met the criteria
to register as a candidate.
At that moment, I thought why sit at home
when I can go out and do something.
Finally, I decided to give it a go,"
Nitipong said of his experience.

"I walked around Bangkok meeting interesting people,
from street vendors to preppy businessmen.
It was tough running an election campaign since
it was a whole new chapter in my life.
But it was worth it. I am still so thankful for
every vote that I received. It was meaningful."

In this Year of the Ox, it may be out of superstition
or for no reson at all, but Nitipong was invited by YoungDee,
a sub-section of Index Event Agency Co, Ltd,
to stage a concert entitled "Arom Dee" (Good Mood)
at Farm Chokechai, Nakhon Ratchasima,
where oxen and cows ran freely on the green grass.

"I told YoungDee's team to consider this place,
because it is really a beautiful location.
More importantly, unlike other concerts that are sometimes
held near a forest or national park,
this venue is a little less harmful to nature
- yet its uniqueness, I believe, could offer a different
kind of impression to concert-goers," said Nitipong
of his creative idea.

In a career that is often overshadowed by others
like a songwriter's, Nitipong's life has become
a role model for the new generation of songwriters
in the Thai music scene.
Hearing him recount his career,
it seems that everything comes easily for him.
But is there anything more in life that he would like to achieve?

"My life is pretty much settled now.
So all my dreams and hopes are with my dear daughter.
I wish she will grow up as a good person.
And by 'good' I mean never taking advantage of others.
As for me, I will try to make every day my very best."

‘Arom Dee’ will show on February 7, with over 20 well-known
guest singers at Farm Chokechai, Nakhon Ratchasima.
Tickets are 2,200 baht, available at Thai Ticket Major counters.
Call 02-262-3456 or visit