A visionary and advocate for many important worldly issues through her music, we asked Thai pop artist Pyra to shed more light on her latest track ‘yellow fever’, including some of the creativity behind it coupled with its strong message, as well as her thoughts on the uptick of xenophobia and Asian hate, particularly in the US.
Thai pop artist Pyra recently released her single ‘yellow fever’. The empowering track, which is also accompanied by a strongly-messaged music video, conveys the artist’s disgust at offensive Asian stereotypes using strong messaging and dark humour. Despite the bold approach and visuals, the song is real and is a stark reminder of the lurid truth out there. We are moved.
Why address this topic now and through pop music, you might ask?
Pyra is an artist who tackles socio-cultural issues through her music. Says Pyra about her unconventional approach,
“In all my videos, it’s important for me to give the world something they’ve never seen before. I hate giving people what they want—it’s boring. I like surprises. No one gets what they want in my world. It’s twisted. It’s exciting. You can always expect the unexpected from Pyra.”
With her unique genre of dystopian pop, coupled with roots in hip hop and alternative sounds and infused with a touch of Asian influence, Pyra is also an advocate for topics such as social justice, climate change, feminism, mental health, and spirituality, and addresses them head on through her music.
For instance, her previous two releases “Plastic World” and “Dystopia” navigate the sphere of inequality through the themes of consumerist capitalism and depression respectively. While “Bangkok”, is fuelled with meaning for the new generation that’s fighting currently for justice in the country’s capital.
Moved, we asked the impassioned artist to tell us more about her latest song, what she has planned next, as well as her thoughts on the recent spike of Asian hate in the US.
AL365: Hi Pyra, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. We last saw you in February 2020 at Garden Beats Festival. It was also the last big music, lifestyle and wellness festival that Singapore had before the lockdowns around the world. How have you been since then?
Pyra: In all honesty, it’s been a downer since then. Whoever from the music industry says that life has been mad lit would be lying. Artists are less of a musician but more of a content creator in this pandemic era. It’s one of the few things we can do. I’ve been releasing music & videos and playing online shows for festivals but that’s really it.
AL365: ‘yellow fever’ is an eye-opening song that deals with fetishisation and stereotypes. It holds such a bold message for people to wake up and open their eyes to this lurid and ghastly truth. Tell us – when writing this song, how personal is it for you to get the message across?
Pyra: Too personal. Everything that comes out is straightforward–no filter. No time to sugarcoat this since I really want those with yellow fever to get this message in their head. Some of you might be shocked to hear some of the lines but it is what it is. I’m disgusted to get my ass smacked by some dudes too. And this is what had happened to me irl.
AL365: What made you decide to work with Ramengvrl and Yayoi Daimon on this song?
Pyra: Both of them are artists that don’t fit into the female stereotypes in their countries. We’re the outcast. We’re proud about that.
Just like myself, Ramengvrl strives above the men who told her she’ll never make it in the music industry. Yayoi Daimon is a self-proclaimed feminist. She has been making music empowering women who don’t fit in the mold such as herself.
The energy of a female hustler among us is higher than the roof. We’re bold and fearless. Like it or not, we’re the new generation of Asian women that will take the world heads on.
AL365: The dark humour and creative “storyline” for the music video of ‘yellow fever’ is very compelling in a very audacious sort of way. Who directed the video and who did the costumes and make-up for it?
Pyra: I’m the creative director for my own project and I select people I think would fit with that particular song because each of my songs varies in mood and style. The main criteria I look for in a director is someone is their personality. A goodie two shoes can never get my message across. This includes Binn who directed this vdo. I asked him to be as vile and vulgar as possible in which he did. There’s loads of scenes that we have to blurred out because its platforms wouldn’t let us put it up LOL.
Most of the costumes I wear are university students’ thesis projects. It’s been my long time initiative to support young local designers because those are the support I need but didn’t receive when I was younger.
I’ve been using the same HMU team since the release of Plastic World. All femme gen Z creatives. The gen Z in my crew are mad talented. They made me feel like I wasn’t doing shit when I was younger.
AL365: There has been a lot of Asian hate and violence on Asians in the recent weeks in the US. Most have been going on since the pandemic, but many which have spiked in the recent weeks. Given your passionate sentiments on topics such as social justice, climate change, feminism, mental health, and spirituality, how do you feel about this particular uptick in hate crimes, violence against Asians and xenophobia?
Pyra: Aw shit I’m so angry and sad seeing the AAPI hate crime news right now. The sad thing is that the media themselves are downplaying this when they should be rallying support for the community. I’ve been posting a lot about this on my social channels. If there’s a rightful use of social media I can surely say it is this #stopasianhate movement kinda post that could save lives. Last week, I played a charity concert at a hip hop club in Bangkok for their #stopasianhate party hoping that the local asians will know what’s happening to our brothers and sisters in the west.
AL365: Besides ‘yellow fever’, what are you working on at the moment?
Pyra I’m dropping two EPs and an album this year. That’s a handful. So brace yourself.
AL365: Bracing ourselves. We are ready! Thanks again Pyra. We hope to see you again in Singapore really soon!
Listen to more of her songs below.