Samui Wining & Dining
In a Spin

We find out what brought DJ Steve Bray to Samui and what keeps him here.


14He’s a musician, DJ, booking agent, event planner and Samui resident. And he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Steve Bray is well known on the island and he’s responsible for bringing a whole new kind of nightlife to Samui. I spent an afternoon with him finding out a bit more about the man and his music.


JP: Hi Steve, tell us something about yourself.

SB: I grew up in the market town of Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, and I first started listening to rock ‘n’ roll music in my dad’s car. It was an old 8-track and I think I was about seven. I really loved it and was hooked from that time on. Around the age of 13, I had a friend who played drums in a kind of junior band and he really inspired me to save up for my own drum kit, which I soon bought. A friend of my dad’s had a spray shop and I’d bunk off school sometimes and spray a car for a fiver. A few years later I joined a band, playing my first gig at 15, and by the time I was 17 I’d left home and went on tour with a band for a few years. I eventually moved to the south coast of England where I started promoting a nightclub called ‘Maison’ which featured acts like Norman Jay, Groove Armada, Darren Emerson and Layo & Bushwaka.


JP: When did you come to Samui to live and work and why?

SB: I first came on holiday in 2004 and my immediate thought was, “Wow, I’m going home to get my stuff and move here.” I just fell in love with the whole feel of the island and the way and pace of life. In the end it wasn’t until the following year that I made the move permanent. My long-term plan had always been to settle down somewhere that was warm the whole year round. And a good friend of mine, Dave Sambor, already lived on Samui so the decision was quite easy.


JP: Tell us about some of the places you played on Samui when you first came.

SB: My first residency was Sound Bar in Soi Green Mango back when it had a swimming pool in the middle of the dance floor. I also played upstairs at Q Bar and did monthly parties at Karma Samui and Fridays up at the old Art Palace when it first opened before I moved on to Dr Frogs. I’m currently talking to a brand new resort, The W, about a residency which is pretty exciting.


JP: What different styles of music do you usually play?

SB: I’ve very varied tastes in music and for me it has to have soul and feel; it has to create emotion and make you feel good, of course. The kind of music I play out hugely depends upon the venue and the audience. I like to play most styles from Funk and Soul to Nu-disco, Motown, R&B, Breaks, Hip-Hop, Latin and House.


JP: I’ve seen you play at high-profile events on Samui, how did that come about?

SB: Karma Samui persuaded me to put on a New Year’s Eve party back in 2006 and from there the bookings just followed because of my style of music I guess. I work a lot with the Signature Collection (Samui Villas & Homes) playing at private villas and at resorts like Six Senses Hideaway and Anantara. I’ve also played at some high-profile weddings at some of the top-class resorts. The last party I put on myself (The Movement Party) was at The BBC restaurant at Big Buddha which was a lot of fun.


JP: What’s the Movement Party all about?

SB: I run a company called ‘The Agency’ and part of what we do is organise and run parties and events. We provide the DJ’s and music, the lighting and sound system, decorate the venue, market the event and even draw in a crowd. It’s free admission and the venue is charged a set-fee and they make their profit from the bar and gain a lot of new customers who probably hadn’t been to the resort or restaurant before. The name came about because we move venue each time and there are no set dates, as such; when they happen we quickly let people know about it.


JP: You are very different from the DJ’s that played at events I remember from the ’70s and ’80s, what’s your approach to an event and how do you gauge how successful it’s been?

SB: I aim to have the dance floor busy from start to finish, that’s my goal. You’re dealing with so many variables in age and music preferences so it’s good to keep the music genre vibrant; it keeps everybody involved. How do I gauge it? If they’re sat down looking bored I’ve not done my job correctly.


JP: What’s a typical week like for you?

SB: I seem to have more than my fair share of meetings that’s for sure and I probably have two or three gigs each week. I try and get some percussion practice in and listen to new music. On the fun side (not that working isn’t fun), writing tunes with my good pal, Bobby Parrs, is always pleasurable and I enjoy yoga, meditation and kite-surfing.


JP: What are the most important skills and attributes you need to have professionally?

SB: I’ve found with this business that you’ve got to enjoy what you do – it shines through. I really love working with, and for, different kinds of people. And everything’s an experience; you don’t always get things right the first time but it’s important to learn from your actions and grow.


JP: And finally, Steve, what advice would you give to an up-and-coming DJ or musician?

SB: That’s easy, do it for the love of music, nothing else!


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