TSUNAMI DAY SONG BIO:
The song ‘Tsunami Day’ was wrote and composed in 2011 by ‘Mark Hopkins’ on a 4-track in his bedroom in the UK. The song is about his own personal experience of what happened when he was living in Patong when the Tsunami hit in 2004.
Mark tried to studio record the song in 2011 but due to numerous reasons and circumstances it’s taken a few years for him to get around to recording the ‘Tsunami Day’ song. It was only when Mark returned to Phuket in 2013 he set out to organize the studio recording, the charity, the sponsors, design this website and also set up all the newspaper and radio station promotion.
Around October 2013 Mark 1st met and hired the session musians who play on the Tsunami Day song and after one practise session he wen’t to the recording studio to record. Then on the 15th of November the ‘Tsunami Day’ song was ready for downloads from this website and also the song received radio play and newspaper advertising in many outlets before the 26th of December 2013, which is “Tsunami Day”.
Mark says “It’s been a long and hard road over the past few years, probably a lot longer, but even though my circumstances are still far from rosy right now, this is simply something that I feel I must do – no matter what. It’s basically the reason I am here on Phuket right now.
After recording the Tsunami Day song in English in November 2013 Mark stayed on Phuket, and even though he will be leaving for China after the Boxing day ceremonies, in mid November 2014, and basically one year to the date after recording the first time, Mark decided that the song needed to be in Thai and also to gain more exposure and marketing for the charity a video was also needed, so he set about organising and hired a Thai female vocalists (Arina), rented the studio and recorded. ‘GT Studio’ kindly also donated their time to record a video of the female vocalist and designed a music video of the Thai version of the song. Mark also asked the studio to video once again his vocals so he could also design the English vision of the video also.
By the 28th of November both the Thai version of Tsunami Day song and both videos were finished. Mark then set about sending email after email out to numerous TV, News and Radio station plus he also took the video of his English vocals and designed a video version of the Tsunami Day song mixing both the vocals and an array of images of the 2004 Tsunami, which you can now see on this site here: Tsunami Day Video’s
Mark says “Even though the song and video are not the all and end all of bringing people and then donations for the charity, it’s just another marketing and exposure angle which hopefully will help with at least some kind people donating directly.
After Mark managed to find enough sponsors to studio record he then contacted all known local charities and orphanages on Phuket and ‘Tina Hall’, from the ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation’ replied. Unfortunately the rest did not? From there they worked out a campaign that would suite both the charity and the idea’s Mark has to promote both music and the arts to the orphaned children on Phuket.
The ‘Coconut Club’, which the ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation’ runs, offers a program of on-going leisure and education development activities, that provide weekend and inter-session experiences, to the 130 residential students of the Rachaprachnukroh School in Kamala, Phuket so this suited Mark’s idea of enhancing further education in the arts
The residential students are orphans or children whose families are not able to look after them. They rarely, before the Coconut Club was established, had the opportunity to leave the school grounds or engage in any activity outside the routine of their school lives. The Coconut Club enhances not only their English language skills, but also stimulates their imagination, experimentation and independent thinking abilities. It provides a safe and comfortable developmental environment, which raises their self-esteem and confidence, allowing them to use and apply what they are learning in their English class to their everyday life.
Donations will also be used to pay for the occasional trips to local music concerts and events, to buy books, accessories and for educational items for the music and arts classes. There is also a wish list of items that they urgently need so dependent on donations we intend to fund these items also if we can.
The ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us’ Foundation welcomes donations of any size. If you would like to donate pleas either go to the ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us’ website and contact them from there. Thank you 🙂
During late October 2013 Mark met and hired session musicians to back the Tsunami Day song and then had one practice session. Then the ‘Tsunami Day’ basics of the song (Base, guitar, drums and keyboard) was recorded on the 28th of October, 2013 in a Phuket recording studio.
On the 5th of November Mark returned to the Phuket recording studio with George Cordeiro, the guitarist, and added first vocal track, one backing track and some extra guitars were added. Then on the the 12th of November the ‘British International School’ choir added the backing vocals and then on the 13th of November Mark returned to the recording studio once again to tweak, mix and master the ‘Tsunami Day’ song.
Between recording sessions Mark also decided that his vocal needed to change in some parts and the keyboard and choir volume level needed to be slightly higher, so he returned to the studio once again to edit these parts.
On the 15th of November 2013 to song was finished and uploaded to the ‘Tsunami Day’ website. From the 15th of November, 2013 the song was online and advertised so visitors to the website could listen and download.
On the 26th of November 2014 we also recorded the Tsunami Day song in Thai.
Song name: Tsunami Day
Date recorded: 16th of November 2013 and 28th November, 2014
Songwriter: Mark Hopkins
Composer: Mark Hopkins
Male vocals (Eng): Mark Hopkins
Female Thai vocals: Arina Kaiser
Male Thai vocals: Weerachai Tomgpan
Vocals (Background): British international School Choir and George Cordeiro
Guitar (Electric), Mandolin: George Cordeiro
Bass: Yob De Castro
Drums: Mike Trinidad
Keyboards: Chris Gayo
Mixing: Mark Hopkins and GT Studio
Recording studio: GT Studio, Phuket
English Video Designer: Mark Hopkins
You can see and listen to both the English (Left) and Thai (Right) version videos below, plus if you want to listen to the track there’s a copy on Soundcloud here: Tsunami Day
1. What inspired you to write the song?
Unfortunately the inspiration came from my own personal experiences while I was living in Patong back in 2004 when the Tsunami hit Patong.? ?I realize that I did not write the song for 6 or 7 years? after the Asian Tsunami, but this is not something that you can simply wipe from your memory. It’s always there and probably always will be.
One of the lyrics in the song mentions my landlady knocking on my door. Due to it was boxing day, and on Christmas night I did not get back to my bed until around 5pm boxing day morning, I could not really write in the song what she really said to me or what I replied back. Plus the lyrics would not have fitted. What she did really say as she was crazily knocking on my door was ” Mark – You Die – Big Wave”. Her English was not to good but along with the fact that I had absolutely no clue what was going on, my head was really hurting, her bellowing out and the banging on my door etc I pulled the pillow over my head and shouted back a few pleasantries. It took a few minutes to all sink in.
As far as song it’s self. I was sat in my bedroom, I picked up the guitar, a tune swirled around my mind and the lyrics blossomed with ease from there. It simply all clicked into place. I had a small Tascam 4 track recording studio back then so after around 20 tries to record the song on my guitar, and a very sore finger tips, I finally managed to lay the tracks and a vocal down. Some songs are just like this and some take weeks, months or sometimes even years to write. Any songwriter will understand this. Not saying that I am a songwriter. I just try.
2. What has happened in the interim – why are you now releasing it?
As I mentioned. ?I have been trying to record the ‘Tsunami Day’ song for a few years now. ? When I left the UK in late 2011 I carried this demo recording on my memory stick for two or more years around Thailand, China and Malaysia in the hope that some day I will be able to record it. Last year was on Phuket twice but each time I had to leave ?Phuket ?to work in China. It was just a. time and a money situation which prevented me from doing this in 2012. In 2013 I returned to Phuket from China just because I could not get the song out of my mind and I wanted to record the song no matter what. It was one of those ?situations where if I did not ? record it?, then I would have regretted it.? It’s just something I had to do.? No other reason.
3. I believe the production of the song was rather unique – how did it all come together?
In truth I returned to Phuket to work months back and as soon as I arrived this job fell through. So I was basically stuck with absolutely no money and no job at the time, so in reality and normal situations I had no way to achieving my goal. Saying this I am not one who believes in normal situations and always believe there’s a way, so what I did was I simply came up with the idea to attract sponsors in return for hopefully good marketing and advertising. This would not cost me anything due to one of my many jobs is email marketing. So I then set up the email, sent it out the email request to a few hundred companies on Phuket and crossed my fingers, toes and what ever else I could find. I also asked a few close friends such as ‘Mick Bates’,’Luc Montens’ at ‘Tropical Properties’ and ‘Michael Dietvorst’ at ‘Oriental Living’, plus a few other people.
At that point I still did not have any contact with any charities or musicians, the recording studio etc. I just knew that without sponsors this simply would not happen. I tested the water so to speak. I also knew it was a long shot but worth a try. Obviously the recipients of the mail out did not know me, and the email could have basically been from anyone, so I was not expecting many replies or offers, if any.
Luckily for me my 3 close friends all agreed to sponsor and also ‘Phuket Hash House Harriers’ and ‘Golden Wave / Phuket Wake Park’ also replied to the email mail out pledging sponsorship. It ending up being just enough sponsors to finally pay and just cover the 4 session musicians, the practice studio, the recording studio, the set up the ‘Tsunami Day’ website and a few taxi’s and odds and ends.
From there it started on a rocky note due to a few people let me down but then it snowballed after I finally contacted some session musicians, met them a few times, had one practice session with them and then just booked the studio.
In-between the recording I also contacted the ‘British International School’ and ‘Neill Thacker’ asking if the school’s choir would be interested in doing the backing vocals on the song, and Neill kindly agreed. I also contacted the ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us’ charity and with the help of ‘Tina Hall’ we worked out that all donations, be it from the ‘Tsunami Day’ song download or from cash donations, would go directly towards introducing music and the arts to the orphans at the ‘Coconut Club’ in Kamala and I also set up and designed the website ( www.tsunamiday.com ). Obviously there’s a lot more to it such as a lot of bouncing emails back and forth and waiting for replies but it got there in the end. After 6 weeks or so, and five visits to the studio, the song was completed and ready on the 15th of November 2013.
4. What’s the next step. Why are you doing this?
Beyond what I have explained I suppose it’s simple really. I wrote a song and I knew years back that I wanted to try and help a charity with the song. In 2010 I also recorded one of my song for charity in the UK so I also knew that with a charity song I can nag, push and get away with many marketing and advertising angles and then from there all this exposure of the song would mean more exposure for the charity. It’s basically as simple as that. Marketing.
It’s really just something in life I had to do. If I can bring just 10$ to the charity by means of recording the song and the marketing and advertising that comes from this then I am a happy chap. Obviously I am hoping for a lot more donations but this is all out of my hands now and up to the people to either download the song or make a cash donation directly to ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us’. It sounds really easy to get people to go to the website and donate just 1$, or what they can, but in fact it’s not easy.
I just hope that visitors to the ‘Tsunami Day’ website will take just 5 minutes of their time to download or donate. Also,
As far as where my next step. Well. I have done what I came here to do. I did have one more song that I want to record for personal and licensing reasons but once again it’s come down to funds. No work equals no funds so now I have recorded and the marketing is almost finished I might have to leave Phuket again to find work. That’s life. Sava!
5. Final Question for up and coming writers. How do you go about writing songs?
I have no clue how other people go about this. I would say that it depends if the writer is actually a good musician or has a band to help mold the songs. Unfortunately I am neither of the mentioned, even though I do play basic guitar just to put the guides down.
For me, due to I have nobody else to bounce ideas off, I have to have a guitar by my side. I went 15 years without writing one single song while I was living in Bali and Phuket living due to I had no guitar so having some type of instrument is a must. Then, for me, songs simply flow from all areas. I can listen to a snippet of another song, background music in a film/TV or even a sound from the street or home and a melody/song evolves from there. A lot of the time, and this may sound a bit mad to none writers, I actually write melodies and lyric while I am sleeping, or at least while I am about to sleep.
My song ’21st Century Girl’ was basically wrote and composed from me seeing an advert for a publisher searching for a particular sounding song, and even gave an example song as a guide. I searched and downloaded the example song and a few days later the guide for ’21st Century Girl’ was all done. Unfortunately I did not have the funds to studio record at the time so I carried the MP3 back to Asia and then found enough funds to semi-record in in China and then finally fully studio recorded it on Phuket in 2015. It took me 4/5 years from writing to recording. I hate money but unfortunately money is key.
For me I craft the melody first and then the lyrics either follow, or in some cases the lyrics pop into my mind when I am playing molding the song on guitar. I would say that most song writers hum or sing along while fixing the verses, chorus or bridge melodies and then words evolve out of this. In some cases I have no clue what the song/song lyrics will be about and then while crafting the melody and singing along a word will pop in my mind for the hook etc and this one word will actually guide me to what the song and lyrics will be actually bout.
At times song writing to me is more of a curse than a pleasure due to melodies and lyrics swirl around my mind constantly over and over to a point where my brain feels numb. I can be working on the computer, watching TV or trying to sleep etc but still the melodies are in the background. This can go on for days, or a least until I have scalped the melody and wrote the lyrics. The problem then is that another melody pops in my mind and then the process starts all over again. Like I said. It’s sometimes a curse.
Up-date: Since the ‘Tsunami Day’ song was recorded Mark has recorded one more song on Phuket. Its will be a up-tempo Christmas song type song, much like ’21st Century Girl’ in genre, named: “I’m Coming Home For Christmas”.
Just some credits from Mark: “Due to the website ‘Tsunami Day’ has long gone I would like to acknowledge the below for there help. Without them the ‘Tsunami Day’ song would not have been possible.
I would like to thank: Michael Dietvorst’ ( Owner of Oriental Living, Phuket ), Phuket Hash House Harriers, ‘Stuart Baker’ ( Managing Director of Food Hygiene Asia ), ‘Alan Cooke’ (MBE), ‘Adam Goodman’ ( General Manager of Two Chefs Restaurants on Phuket ), ‘Phuket Water Park‘ and ‘Cassius Rolfe-Johnson’. Unfortunatly my mate Cass past away a few years back so I dedicate this song to him. RIP Cass.”
Mark says “I would also personally like to mention and thank ‘George Cordeiro‘, who is the guitarist on the song and who has helped me with the recording and general mixing, Mick Bates and Jason Beavan for basically being mates and understanding what I am trying to do, even though I am a pain at times. Also special thanks to ‘Neill Thacker’ and the ‘British International School’ choir (BIS) for donating his, and the choirs, time.”