A Songbird in Paradise – We dip into the life of Tasha Daugul and discover what brought her to Samui.

Tasha Daugul

It’s a completely different perspective. You come to Samui and stay for a while. You go out. You explore. You dine well, and then you take a taxi to see a live band, a show or some authentic Thai dancing. You get to know the staff at your resort, and then take home souvenirs and fond memories of your time in Thailand. But for the people who live here and work here, whether Thai nationals or from elsewhere, their view of what you’ve been experiencing is quite different.

Someone once described this to me as “. . . like being underwater and looking up at the boats on the surface”. Meaning that it’s a whole different world for people who live here. But that’s what a holiday is all about, though, isn’t it? Having nothing much to think about, and being taken care of while you have a well-earned break.

But the people who live here are forever distracted by the maze of continually-changing immigration laws. They need to learn how to pay their electricity bills in a society where cheque books aren’t commonly used and internet banking is still emerging, or find their way through the baffling tangles of paperwork to buy a motorbike. Plus a thousand other things –
while all the time having to cope with the ever-present language barrier. It’s a whole different view of Samui. And that also includes coming into contact with you, even though you might not have been aware of it!

You’re at one of the island’s top resorts, and while you’re enjoying a very gentile dinner, you’re being entertained by an equally discreet jazz trio. The food is fabulous and the music is mellow. Everything’s just perfect. But the trio of musicians, playing unobtrusively to one side, are each seeing you as if they are underwater, looking up. You’re enjoying their music. But you’ll be gone next week and they won’t!

Like all holiday resorts, Samui has a solid core of people who live and work here. And a surprisingly large number of them are musicians. There are a large number of performers from the Philippines – music is in their blood, and they take their covers of love songs and popular ballads all over the world. But there are also some world-class musicians here, too. There are more than a few, now in semi-or full-time retirement, who have their names on record labels with chart hits from the 60s and 70s. Some have played with the biggest names in the business as session musicians. Other excellent musicians, though, have stumbled across Samui, as many do, almost by accident, fallen in love with our island, and stayed. And one just such as this is Tasha Daugul.

Tasha is one of those rare people with no pretensions at all. She has no lust for money. She only lives to be able to express herself by singing – it’s as if she loses herself in this and moves to a purer place, where the hassles of life and earning a living are out of sight and mind. She’s been here a while now, and has already firmly established herself within the island community.

She was born in Moscow, which comes as an initial surprise when you talk to her as her accent is shaped by a kind of mid-Atlantic tonality. And right from way back as early as she can recall, she’s always loved to sing – mainly in the house or along with music on the radio or stereo. And then, one time at summer camp, when she was 12 years-old, there came a turning point; she was press-ganged (she’s almost shy and not competitive at all) into a talent competition – which she won.

She left school and began working at a nightclub, singing over backing tracks and the DJ’s choice of music. But this was commercial stuff and wasn’t fulfilling. A few years later, she broke free and took off to visit friends in Thailand for a short break – and stayed for six years.

Initially, she was involved with a wedding planning company run by a friend, Alexander Daugul. “I did all sorts,” she recounted, “from the creative decorations to singing at the parties and receptions. But it wasn’t really until about 2016,
that I began to devote more time to my singing. I had already met up with some of Samui’s jazz musicians and sat-in on a few of their gigs. And now I was being offered the opportunity to team up with a couple of them with on-going contracts at venues around the island.”

She’s a gentle soul. And when you see her on stage there’s nothing showy or flamboyant about it at all. She doesn’t move much. But as soon as she begins to sing she takes on a kind of faraway glow, completely given to the music and lost in song. Her voice isn’t powerful or particularly dynamic. But it’s utterly pure. You won’t hear her belting out Billy Holiday covers. But just listen to her version of ‘The girl from Ipanema’, or ‘Fly me to the moon’. Every note is silver and she has the graceful ability to move effortlessly from a minor 5th to a 7th that raises the hairs on the back of your arms.

Today, she’s singing more or less full time. One of the most laid-back places you can see her is in Bangrak, at The Secret Garden’s Sunday Sessions, every Sunday afternoon. Or if you’re planning an evening dinner, consider the Samui Royal Beach Resort, in Lamai. Otherwise look out for Tasha at one of the island’s regular jazz festivals; she’s appeared before with the legendary Bobby Parrs on guitar and the inimitable Norman King on Sax – two more of the island’s mainstay jazz

Failing that, just do a Facebook or YouTube search for her name – Tasha Daugul – the songbird on the island paradise of Samui!

Rob De Wet