P’Mhee Festival Monster Discusses Journey into Festival Scene, EDM Music Experiences, and More
If you’re a fan of music festivals, we bet that you’ve come across a certain party animal sporting a pair of sunglasses and a bear suit. (Sometimes brown, green, or white, but always bear!) He’s often found roaming event venues and busting moves enthusiastically at the stage side. You might even want to ask him: isn’t that outfit too hot?
Siam2nite has invited Kittisak “Gum” Ampornviwatt a.k.a. P’Mhee Festival Monster to sit down with us so we can get to know the man inside the jumpsuit. After our interview, it’s clear there’s a lot more to P’Mhee than just being a festival-goer in a bear costume.
The first time he donned the ursine onesie was not at an EDM festival as we suspected, but at the Thai pop rock event, Big Mountain Music Festival, almost a decade ago in Khao Yai.
“I was part of the team that organized “Lai Pla Muk” tent. The juniors in the team had brought costumes for the event. One costume stands out to me: a thick and fluffy bear costume. As their leader, I wanted my younger teammates to enjoy the festivities, so I took the suit and put it on. The weather was sweltering and I almost fainted! [laughing] But it was ok, my spirits were high. I ran in front of them and did some ice breaking. I wanted them to see me going all in, and they followed suit. After that, I started thinking of wearing a costume as a form of an avatar. It’s like becoming a different version of you and entering a whole new world. I had such a blast, and it made me want to wear this kind of costume to other festivals.”
Gum’s initial interest in Thai pop-rock also shifted towards EDM because of Big Mountain Music Festival.
“On this one year, there was Mhee By T.E.D. stage by Dome Pakorn Lam. They presented music from a bunch of EDM styles; it was eye-opening. Up until that point, I haven’t been much of an EDM fan. But after I got into it, I feel like this is just right for me and worth a deep dive into since it’s a gateway to other genres like trap, trance, dubstep, and hardstyle. I enjoy these genres, so I decided to pursue this.”
What was your first bear costume like? Tell us about that.
“After I decided that wearing a costume to festivals seemed like a good challenge, I immediately went to JSL [TV Broadcaster]. I rented a costume from them, which cost 700-1,000 Baht per day. After a while, I couldn’t afford the rental cost anymore so I asked them if I can buy the costume. Their costume manager told me it wasn’t for sale and recommended that I create my own. And I did just that. I got the materials from Phahurat and made the patterns. Then, I had some tailors make my suit and made adjustments along the way.
My actual debut was at Arcadia; the first time of the giant spider in Bangkok. The result? I fainted! There were a lot of pyrotechnics. From then on I knew I couldn’t have two layers for the suit; I’ll die first. I experimented with the outfit. I cut, sew, and redesign the patterns by myself. Then, I go to festivals.”
How was your first time in this bear costume? Did other festivalgoers take notice of you and how?
“From their point of view, I think it’s like ‘What? How can this guy handle the heat? I had to take off my shirt.’ Yeah, I admit you’d have to be crazy and passionate [to pull this off]. I was quite shocked though when some people call me P’Mhaa (dog). I’d like to tell them; please call me Mhee (bear), or a sheep, even a rabbit. But Mhee please, Mhaa doesn’t sound so good. [laughing]”
Will we get to see ‘Rainbow P’Mhee’ or ‘Glow-in-the-dark P’Mhee’ in future events?
“In the future, I hope to install a mini fan, LED lights, lasers, and a mini air conditioner on the suit. My only concerns are fire hazards and short circuits. [laughing] But yes, upgrades are coming. Even Marshmello’s helmet has a mini air conditioner inside.”
After that installment of Big Mountain, why did you decide to keep wearing bear costumes to music festivals? Why did you choose the bear as your avatar?
“I want to be me but also not me, and I want to be perceived as a public figure. P’Mhee is not a place nor a person, but people.
As for the decision of choosing the bear, ‘bear-age’ kids are eager to learn. I got into this scene without knowing much, but I came to learn. When I go to festivals, I observe and study. What kind of sound systems were used? So, the lighting for this event is by Lightsource. How was the management or ticket sales? What were the challenges? Why was there a long queue? Who organized the event? What was the stage like? I don’t think a person needs to know everything from the get-go, but they should keep learning. Another reason is when you’re buying a child’s first doll for them to cuddle, most people would get a bear. Children don’t feel awkward when they hug a bear. I want everyone to learn along with me. Gain new experiences; meet new people; make new impressions.”
Had you imagined what you did would get you here? An influencer and brand owner with the slogan ‘If P’Mhee is going, the party will be glowing’, who festivals fans and organizers always look out for.
“No such thing as a coincidence; I planned this from day one. I want to be right here, to create value from myself. Otherwise, I’m just a guy who wears bear suits to events. I want to become a middleman who can support, promote, and help organize great music festivals.”
At which point did you feel like you’ve become more well-known?
“I actually want even more people to know me, to the point where everyone understands why I chose to become a bear.”
But at the moment, it seems many still don’t understand why you chose to become a bear.
“Well, I would call that a success. Truth be told, I don’t need people to understand. I just want them to come meet me, greet me, and dance with me. I make things complicated and then say ‘forget that; just go along with me.”
What are the perks of being P’Mhee Festival Monster?
“I get to meet more people, make more friends and have a bigger family. I can act as the go-between who joins two groups together so we can all have more fun. Doing that feels really satisfying.”
What would you say to someone who also wants to wear costumes to festivals, but still feels too shy or insecure to do so?
“You don’t have to be a bear; be whoever you want to be. You’ll know it in your heart whether it’s right for you. [Feeling] shy and insecure is the first step in overcoming them. It’s good you feel shy or insecure. You should think about why you’re feeling that way, but also try putting those feelings aside for one day and give it your all. After that, you break it down. What did you get from the experience? Was it what you want? If the answer is yes and you feel fantastic, just keep doing it. You’ll get more of this feeling as you go on.”