Pyra takes over the feed to spread messages of discontent, hacking the algorithm in Max Headroom style with a colorful, glitchy talking head and a campy, dystopian vibe. The vertical video series—which borrows her visual style from previous music videos and translates them for a new era of endless short-form clips—is a promo for her new single “Cut My Tongue.” The track itself has similar leanings to the visuals, covering everything from her unwillingness to self-censor to the feeling of living under constant surveillance.
The song is one of several planned for release over the next few months from her upcoming album PYRADISE, and it marks a new stage for the angsty space pop artist. It’s the beginning of her career as an independent; she recently moved from her sweltering home of Bangkok to the cold shores of England; and she’s now pivoting from ornate music videos to double down on short-form video content.
The lyrics to “Cut My Tongue” can get pretty heavy, with Pyra squeaking in her characteristically grimy kawaii voice: “I had a friend she wasn’t scared/No she was speaking out. She went missing/And now we don’t know where she is now. That’s twisted people getting taken out/I had to flee the country had to get the fuck out. I’m on the run now/They want me wiped out.”
It lay out her stakes, and she says that censorship was the main reason she relocated to London, but explains that the move was more complicated than that alone. “It’s not good as a creative to be limited to a particular topic. I’m worried for my safety, but not really,” she says. “My target market is here, the UK is the land for alternative music.” She’s staying there on a global talent visa that would allow her to eventually apply for citizenship.
Pyra has always felt restricted by the realities of making music in her hometown, which is why she chose a vocal-driven style in the first place. Originally she wanted to make electronic music, inspired by her early days of underage raving with a fake ID around Bangkok when she was still in high school. “I started making underground music when I was 18, but felt like I’d get nowhere in Southeast Asia,” she says. “So I wanted to make more accessible music… But it’s still not really easy listening anyway. I can only compromise so much.” Although she’s always been known for her lyrics and stage presence, she’d been quietly making her own beats until 2020.
These regional boundaries are also why Pyra chose to rap in English from the jump. Only two of the songs in her entire catalog are in Thai, although she’s open to making future collabs in her native language. “I chose English for branding. I’ve always known it’d be difficult in Thailand,” she says. “I think I did as good as I could. I don’t think I could grow anymore, that’s why I left. Being here in the UK forces me to make better work. It’s really competitive.”
Since she’s been in London, Pyra has been playing shows around town and doing festivals in Europe. She says that while she’s connected with the Asian community there, it’s more the queer and Gen-Z kids who are embracing the music. Being on stage there is an adjustment, especially when it comes to songs like “Yellow Fever,” which is directed toward white men who visit Bangkok for sex tourism. “When I performed it at festivals with right-wing white people, I got so terrified. They’d be shocked and walk away. But my target audience loves it. The gay and Asian people, the women.”
Right now Pyra is focusing on releasing music and managing her social media presence. Since she’s her own manager and publicist now, it’s hectic and crowds out a lot of time for actually making music. “TikTok is a full-time job,” she says. “I’ve felt like shit about it for the last three years, but now I’m accepting that this is the world we live in. It’s survival of the fittest. If you don’t do it, you don’t go anywhere.” And now with all the creative promo content, it’s like having a second job piled on top. “The content that will do well is the simple ones. The algorithm wants something specific. But once an artist makes it with those videos, the industry doesn’t recognize them as serious artists. They just look like kids. So I’m trying to make the most out of it.” Because of all this, she’s also hitting pause on releasing music videos, since they don’t seem to be worth the effort for her anymore.
After living in London for several months now, Pyra says that she doesn’t actually like it. While the music scene is great and there’s much less censorship, she lists off endless problems: Three prime ministers in one year, wild cost of living, corruption, terrible food. “You always think the grass is greener,” she says. “I love Bangkok way more than before I left. But I will never move back.”