Get to Know Diana Ratsamee, Host of KEXP's Eastern Echoes

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Emily Fox

As of Sept. 13, 2023, KEXP has begun to roll out a new radio lineup full of new shows and DJs. One of these newcomers is Diana Ratsamee, the host of a new show called Eastern Echoes focused on the vast realm of music from Asia and the Asian diaspora. Eastern Echoes airs Thursdays 7-10 PM PT.

To help introduce Diana to our listeners, KEXP's Sound & Vision host Emily Fox caught up with the Eastern Echoes host to learn more about her background as well as three songs to get to know her. Read their conversation below and check out the debut episode of Eastern Echoes in the streaming archive

Emily Fox: So tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you want people to know about you? 

Diana Ratsamee: Sure. I was born and raised in Seattle. I grew up between the Chinatown International District and South Seattle. My parents are both Lao refugees who emigrated to Seattle from Laos in the late 60s, early 70s. And my father was a musician. He was in both a Lao band and an American rock band. So I grew up listening to everything from metal to molam music. And, you know, music for me was a safe haven because it allowed me to connect more deeply to my culture and also experience this life here, this new life that my family and I had been given in America. So I hope to, with this show, be able to share that experience through music and find ways for us to connect through sounds, through the experiences that Asian-Americans and folks in the Asian diaspora have experienced. I'm incredibly excited to be here on KEXP. I grew up listening to this station and am thrilled to be able to finally integrate some of this music and connect with the communities that are interested in listening. 

I asked for you to come with three songs today to help us get to know you and this new show. What's the first song you'd like to share with us?

This first track I'm really excited about because it is with an amazing international band that has hybridized roots in traditional Thai molam music and American funk and rock. And, you know, I've shared a little bit about my upbringing and how my musical inspiration was a fusion of these cultures. This band very much represents all that I experienced growing up. This song is called "Lam San Disco" by The Paradise Molam International Band, and they're a five-piece band that integrates funk and jazz and rock with the traditional sounds of Laos and Thailand. So you'll hear some instrumentation that can be found in the Southeast Asian region and also some familiar instruments, such as the bass guitar and the drum kit. So yeah, this is one of my very favorite tracks and I'm thrilled to be able to share that with you all. 

Amazing. So much fun. I mean, I can definitely hear the fusion in that for sure. 

Mm hmm. And we'll be doing a lot of that will be exploring these cross-cultural integrations and inspirations because it speaks so much to our experience, not just, you know, Asian-Americans, but I'd say the world as a whole. We're constantly influencing and inspiring one another. And this show is going to highlight these intersections that we're all living through today, here and now. 

So what's the the second song that you've come to share with us today? 

I'm also really excited about this track. I'm excited about all of the music that I'm playing. But this is a new band that I discovered. They're a band called Ford Trio, and they are based out of Bangkok. This track in particular is a cross-collaboration with a Japanese band called Helsinki Lambda Club. And the reason why I love this track is because they infuse – again, that infusion – they're combining both of their cultures to make one incredible, funky track. The track is both in both Japanese and Thai, so I love being able to hear both of their language and and the individual sounds of these bands come together to make this awesome song. So I'm incredibly excited for this track and eager to share the music with you. 

And so finally, what's the third track that you'd like to share with us today? 

The third track is by an artist named Namgar. And Namgar a four-piece traditional Buryat and Mongolian band that is incredible. The music I can best describe it is electro-jazz metal mixed with the Mongolian throat saying, It is brain altering. And that's really the heart and soul of the show. Finding music from different musicalities and tones and dialects to have this experience. I remember my first time hearing this track and just being taken to another world. The track is called "Yundengogo," and yeah, I will let it do the talking [laughs]. 

Oh, my gosh. That throat singing is like, next... I'm a vocalist and so when I hear throat singing like that, I'm like, "How do they do that? Like, just like, technically, mechanically, how does that work?" It's so fascinating to me. 

It is. It's awe-inspiring. And I think that sound, that type of music is so unique to that region. And I love how we're able to transform these sounds and infuse them with other musicalities to create a completely unique experience. I find so much joy in exploring music and finding these niche musical experiences for people and thrilled to be able to share that one. 

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