Pauk Si

Pauk Si is a bartender at the Chillax Bistro Bar, a place in Nyaung Shwe owned by his uncle. It’s pretty close to Inle Lake, a spot that many tourists visit. When he was young, Pauk Si learned some simple songs from his uncle, but since then he browsed YouTube to find videos on how to play music. He taught himself to play guitar in a very unusual way. Pauk Si used to play acoustic versions of pop songs, like ‘Sweet Child ‘O Mine’ by Guns ’n Roses, but today he creates his own music.

We heard about his talent through our conversations with Darko C, front man of the band Side Effect and founder of production label Turning Tables. Darko is very vocal about the situation in Myanmar. In 2015 Turning Tables started ‘the Voice of the Youth’ program. They travel around Myanmar, teaching young and promising musicians about human rights and freedom of expression. The most talented young musicians are invited to play at The Voice of the Youth music festival in Yangon. Pauk Si took part in the training tour in his home town of Nyaung Shwe and impressed Darko with his musical talents. A few months later, Pauk Si found himself on stage at The Voice of the Youth festival. A big difference from his bar stool concerts back in Nyaung Shwe.

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Pauk Si at the Chillax Bistro Bar (© Arne Aelterman)

But Pauk Si is very shy. The Voice of the Youth festival focusses on punk, hiphop, metal and other types of underground music. All the other musicians were playing loud and dirty music, but Pauk Si was alone with his acoustic guitar. Pauk Si was doubtful the audience would like his music, but Darko felt the people would recognize his talent. He was not wrong. The young, shy boy from Nyaung Shwe silenced the crowd with nothing but his acoustic guitar and incredible musical talent.

The song he performs in our music video, is called ‘Thousand Problems’. It’s one of his own creations. He wrote the song about all his problems, but his biggest problem is… his guitar. Because of the way he plays, his guitars take quite a beating and his old and trusted instrument has finally broken down. That seems like a small problem, but it’s difficult to buy a good guitar in Myanmar, which is why Pauk Si is flying to Bangkok soon to buy a new guitar.

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Pauk Si warming up to record a live session with us (© Arne Aelterman)

As a way of saying ‘thank you’, we offered Pauk Si to record a live session of one of his songs. We would shoot a video of the song and send it to him once it was finished. For the occasion we decided to invite our fellow Caravan’s Journalists to join us at the bar while Pauk Si played his music. You can watch the full video below: