While rock and electro-pop dominate Bangkok’s indie scene, Peeralada Sukawat, aka Pyra, stands out for her distinctly Thai take on R&B. Following the release of her latest single, “White Lotus” (a recent Track of the Week) we spoke with the rising star about Buddhism's influence on her work and what’s in the pipeline.

What is the story behind “White Lotus”?

White Lotus is the first single from my upcoming EP, Better Human, which will be released in July. I borrowed the term “white lotus” from Buddha, who compared humans with four positions of the lotus. The white lotus is the fourth position, where it’s in bloom, just like a person who has achieved great knowledge and purity. However, as I try to portray in my music video, not everything is black and white. We are all living in shades of gray.

Is your EP going to be about Buddhism?

In a sense, but not in a boring or superstitious way. There’ll be some allegories and references to Buddha. I’m not going to sing about how to stay pure or anything like that. Music for me is like a global communication tool. I just want to create music that helps people make peace with themselves and live positively. Despite growing up in a religious family, I’ve just started to really study Buddhism. I saw my mother make merit at the temple because she hoped to get something good in return. But after spending time with Buddha’s words, I see Buddhism less as a religion and more as a way to live life peacefully and carefully.

Tell us about the “White Lotus” music video.

I want to present Thai culture and art through my work, which is in keeping with the meaning behind the song as well. This is the favorite of my three singles so far, because it’s so me: the music style, the message embedded in the lyrics and the direction of the music video. Everything about this single comes from me. However, the melody wouldn’t be so good without the help of [producers] Jaree Thanapura and Cyndi Seui.

What are the difficulties of releasing music these days?

I wouldn’t call them difficulties. Right now, it’s hard to go against music streaming. So instead of focusing on singles sales, I’m focusing on generating income from merchandise like tote bags and T-shirts.

What’s next for you?

I’ll release a new single, “Let It Go,” in the first week of April. No shows for now, but probably a few music festivals at the end of the year. I want to fully focus on making this EP right now. Outside of recording, I’m also organizing a couple of things to bring the indie music community closer together. The first is Drink Artists, a small social gathering of artists, entrepreneurs and promoters that’s all about sharing ideas. The second is Karma X [www.fb.com/karmax.co], an online platform for artist merchandise where we take care of the production and sales process free of charge.  

Who are your favorite artists?

I listen to many artists including [British R&B singer] FKA Twigs, but I don’t have any favorites. I feel like if I idolize someone I’m afraid that there’ll be some part of that artist’s influence on my work. I want to come up with music that is really based on me.

Where do you go to see live performances?

I don’t really go out at night to see live bands at bars or nightclubs. I don’t like the atmosphere. But I go to Beam sometimes for DJ sets.

Hear more at www.onlypyra.com