Media Review: David Usher ‘Let the Elephants Run’ & the Creativity Process

This might seem to be an off-topic post. However, I’d like to talk to you about the creativity process according to David Usher and review his new book ‘Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything’ published by the House of Anansi Press in 2015. The book is in English, comprises 256 pages and available in print and e-book version. I’ve got the e-book as review copy and downloaded the ‘Action Worksheets Companion’ to the e-book edition.

Well, you know David Usher don’t you? From my recent article about him, we’ve learned that he is a half-Thai artist who had Nr. 1 singles singing in English, French and Thai. Thus, this post might after all not appear too odd within the context of this blog 🙂 What is more, David’s insights are indeed super relevant for me the the creation of my blog!

David Usher ‘Let the Elephants Run’

David Usher 'Let the Elephants Run' (photo credit: speakers.ca)

David Usher ‘Let the Elephants Run’ (photo credit: speakers.ca)

You know, it’s sometimes hard to constantly find good topics to write about. Hence, David’s new book comes in the nick of time. The book is described as “an essential guidebook to reconnecting with our imaginations and nurturing our creativity in accessible and productive ways” (Anansi publisher).

Nevertheless, this is not going to be a typical book review since Usher’s ‘Let the Elephants Run’ is not an ordinary book 🙂 Hence, I will focus on the central points of the book and include some recent interviews with David concerning this topic.

‘Let the Elephants Run’ starts off as an unconventional book.  It claims that the creativity process is about letting the child’s mind run free. Thus, David begins his book with a picture of himself as a small boy in his underwear and argues that as a child everyone is endlessly creative because the child does not know any boundaries and is not restricted by limits and rules. Hence, the mind is out to explore things and to get creative. However, as we grow up, life and its demands separates us from our child’s mind. Thus, the book lists reasons that change people and obstruct their creativity.

Thus, it sounds like reviving the inner child which is a term from psychology meaning all that we’ve learned and experienced as children. These qualities are connected with curiosity and wonder. In order to revitalize the child’s mind, ‘Let the Elephants Run’ is also designed as an ‘action book’ that asks the reader to become active, bold and to break the rules by writing and scribbling into the book, for instance. Hence, there is also a survey about creativity.

However, David argues that the conditions for the creative process are never perfect because distractions are always great and present. According to the author, the most important point is to find one’s personal time and mental space for creativity. This may be very early in the morning or late at night, depending on one’s preferences.

In short, the book argues that everyone is able to be creative and if you’ve found your process, then you may also transfer your creative experiences to other areas of your life. According to David Usher, creativity might be inefficient in nature but a necessity, an investment and a transportable skill that leads to transformation. Thus, he invites the reader to break with patterns and to leave his comfort zone.

In other words, this is an invitation to try out unfamiliar things, to leave routine and to become more experimental which again leads to personal development and changes. As a matter of fact, considering David himself, he developed, like the title of the following clip says, from a ’90s rocker to a creativity expert’.

What is more, the book wants to make the reader aware of his inner attitude, whether he is ‘monster  or mice’, i.e. extroverted or more introverted. In a broader sense, the author thus also invites the reader to be more self-confident by trying, for example, a ‘power pose’.

You may take a look inside the book here:


Summing up, we may say that engaging in the creative process is a matter of seizing the moment and to make the most of it. David Usher sets us an example with his work ‘Let the Elephants Run’. Hence, what’s this all got to do with my Thailand blog now? Well, the most important statement of David’s book is that you should always follow your interests because by doing so, other aspects and hence a network of ideas will arise 🙂 This is exactly what I do when creating and writing my blog nearly every day!

Yours, Sirinya




‘Luk kreung’ and Concepts of Mixed Race in Thailand

Recently I’ve written a post about Thai beauty ideals and the desire for ‘fair skin’ pointing out that in Thailand, Western beauty concepts prevail even though the country has never been colonized by a European nation. In this context, it is interesting to note that there is nowadays a considerable number of part-Thai people who are successful and prominent in Thai popular culture. We might be justified in speaking of a rise of the so-called ‘luk kreung’ in Thailand’s entertainment industry.

Concepts of Mixed Race

Hugo & Palmy (photo credit: music.mthai.com)

Hugo & Palmy, successful Luk kreung, mixed race people (photo credit: music.mthai.com)

In fact, in the time of the Vietnam War, during the 1960s and 70s, a large number of mixed race children were born from Thai women and American soldiers. Literally translated the Thai colloquial term ‘Lukkreung’ (ลูกครึ่ง) means ‘half-child’. It is used to refer to people who are of mixed Thai and European origin. Nevertheless, according to the official dictionary of Thai words, the term describes “a person whose parents are of different races, also called khrueng chat (ครึ่งชาติ)”. That is to say a ‘half-child’ does not necessarily have to be Eurasian.

Nevertheless, ‘luk kreung’ were perceived sceptically and also paradoxically in the 1960s and 70s. On the one hand, they were regarded as the offspring of Thai prostitutes, ‘rented wives’ or ‘mail-order’ brides and American GIs, even though this was not always true, since some of the American soldiers formed lasting relationships with Thai women and settled down in Thailand. On the other hand, ‘half-children’ have been seen as desirable, modern and attractive racially mixed people.

On the whole, we may say that in the 1960s and 70s racially mixed children faced some discrimination but generally society in Thailand was accepting. However, today there are many racially mixed people who have attracted Thai public attention, with growing numbers of celebrities, television stars and actors of mixed origin. Some examples of these stars I’ve recently mentioned in my posts. Think of Hugo Chakrabongse Levy, the ‘royal rocker of Thailand’, Palmy, the popular Thai-Belgian singer, David Usher, Thai-Canadian singer and creativity expert, Thai movie star Ananda Everingham, actress and fashion model Florence V. Faivre , the lovely actress Mai Davika Hoorne, actor Mario Maurer, singer Chin Chinawut or the Thai-Danish entrepreneur Michael Corp Dyrendal who is the younger brother of the well-known half-Thai singer, model and actor Peter Corp Dyrendal. And think of the ‘Princess of Thai Entertainment’ Ann Thongprasom and popular Thai-British actress Paula Taylor. Indeed the list is long… 😉

David Usher, Thai-Canadian singer went from 90s rocker to today's creativity guru (photo credit: lametropole.com)

David Usher, Thai-Canadian singer went from 90s rocker to today’s creativity guru (photo credit: lametropole.com)

Thus, today the majority of ‘luk kreung’ people in Thailand are born of relationships and marriages when Europeans come to live and work in Thailand. Another possible case is when Thai people go abroad to study in Western or foreign countries and settle down and start a family there. Hence, in the last decades Thailand has become quite enamored with half-Thai people. That is to say that many mixed race, part-Thai people have ridden a wave of popularity in the Thai media and entertainment industry.

There are different reasons why ‘luk kreung’ people are successful in Thailand today. A very important factor is their Western features and often proficient English language skills. In fact, half or part-Thai persons also match the predominant Thai beauty ideal of a Western look (i.e. light skin colour, large eyes and a tall physique). These are features that are generally considered attractive and desirable in Thailand. An extremely prominent example of this popularity is the acting and pairing of Urassaya Sperbund (Yaya) and Nadech Kugimiya (Barry). They have captured so many fans in Thailand where the two are now the most popular ‘couple’ of this generation. Both Yaya and Barry are half-Thai people. Yaya Urassaya is Thai-Norwegian and Nadech Kugimiya is Thai-Austrian.

Nadech & Yaya (photo credit Amat Nimitpark via asianfuse.net)

Nadech & Yaya (photo credit: Amat Nimitpark via asianfuse.net)

Thus, today Thai youth and teenage culture is deep in love with the looks of the ‘luk kreung’. For this reason, it doesn’t seem surprising that part-Thai people are prominent in Thai popular culture and are thus also important in constructing Thainess.

Nonetheless, the prominence of half-Thai people in Thailand today does not only apply to those who are of Thai and European heritage. If we consider the example of the world famous golfer Tiger Woods, who is of Thai and Afro-American origin, we realize that he has become a symbol that linked success to Thai identity. In addition, he was portrayed as a cultural hybrid through his career and international golfing tournament success. Hence, this shows that although dark skin is generally less popular in Thailand than fair skin, people of racially mixed origin with non-European heritage can become acknowledged and grab Thailand’s public attention too.

Tiger Woods (photo credit: people.com)

Tiger Woods (photo credit: people.com)

Summing up, we may claim that today mixed race people with part-Thai origin are acknowledged and quite popular in Thailand. This is particularly true of Thai-European people matching the predominant Thai beauty ideal of a light complexion and a tall statue. What is more, there also seems to be proof that half-Asian people have general advantages

What do you think about the rise of ‘luk-kreung’ in Thai popular culture?

Yours, Sirinya




David Usher: Thai-Canadian Singer and Creative Artist

The perfect time to get creative is now

David Usher

By chance I’ve come across the Thai-Canadian artist David Usher and from what I’ve heard, read and seen of him so far, I can only say that he is a stunning and extraordinary artist 🙂

DavidUsher (photo credit: theartof.com)

DavidUsher (photo credit: theartof.com)

The most astonishing fact about him is that he had Nr.1 singles singing in English, French and Thai. What is more, he appears to be at home in both worlds: in Canada as well as in Thailand. In addition, David is not only a musician but also an author of creative books and he is also available for speeches. Hence, you may book David to speak at your event 😉

David Usher*

David Usher*

He was born 1966 in England to the Thai artist and Chinese Water Colour Painter Samphan Usher and Dan Usher who is a Jewish-Canadian professor of economics at Queen’s University. With his family,  David moved to different places in his childhood and youth. For example, he lived in Thailand, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and also in Canada. He got a degree in political science from the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and was also politically active. He started his musical career while at university in 1992 when he founded his band ‘Moist’. The band was very successful in Canada in the following years up to 2001. Moist reunited in 2013 and has been making music until today.

singer & creative artist*

singer & creative artist*

David sometimes mixed English and Thai language in his songs. What is more, for example, the video for the song ‘My way out’ from the album ‘Morning Orbit’ (2002) is partly set in Thailand and there is an English as well as a Thai version of this song.

Thus, we may say that it is great that he explored singing his songs also in Thai and live on stage back then.

David has had a remarkable solo career in Canada but also in Thailand. However, I don’t want to list everything he has done in his musical career but rather stress what is special about him, namely that he is so versatile and working with equal passion in different areas.

However, there is much more to say about David and it’s not only about his music. In fact, he seems to be a cultural hybrid 🙂 For example, his new book ‘Let the Elephants Run’ has become a national bestseller in Canada. In this book, David argues that creativity in inherent in every person, it’s a part of the human DNA. He regards it as his task to unlock people’s creativity putting forward the thesis that creativity is a learnable skill. In this context, please check out my review to this book.

Thus, David is also know as a creativity expert, apart from being an excellent musician and singer! His motto is to seize the moment and to make the most of the present. Hence, “the perfect time to get creative is now“, David puts forward. Recently this month, he has talked to the Montreal Gazette about the creative process and what creativity means to him:

Finally, we may say that David Usher is certainly not a typical Thai artist, he is more of a cosmopolitan and a truly creative soul. I think these are the traits that make him so amiable and admirable 🙂 In addition, when you see David in different contexts and decades, it’s hard to believe that it’s the same person after all. But yeah, indeed, he went from 90s rocker to creativity guru 😉 What is more, he can also be regarded as belonging to the Thai celebrities of mixed origin.

Yours, Sirinya

*photo credit: David Usher, FB page