Nino is wearing a velvet tuxedo jacket by Oscar Jacobson, cotton shirt by Eton and silver earrings by YASAR AYDIN.
A legend among legends
Thanapat Thaothawong, called Nino by his friends, in the city of Khon Kaen. Nino moved to Sweden with his family at eight years old, after his mother got a kitchen job at the Austrian embassy in Stockholm. Having lived in Sweden for ten years, the rapper suddenly found his entire life uprooted, when he was deported back to his birth country, Thailand. But those issues doesn't manifest in Thaiboy’s debut album ”Legendary Member”, but they have impacted how the album was made. His deportation to Thailand turned his collaboration with Drain Gang into a long-distance relationship – the story behind the album is that it’s made out of brotherly love.
Nino is wearing sunglasses by Eytys, polyester vest and trousers by Heliot Emil, a silver bracelet by Hanrej, and full grain leather boots by Lundhags, stylist’s own belt.
Nino is wearing a wool t-shirt by Our Legacy, a wool duffle by Tiger of Sweden (PRE SPRING) and sunglasses from stainless steel with black colored Carl Zeiss Vision lenses by SunBuddies.
What is home to you?
— Home is what I have around me, it can be anywhere. As long as I can talk to my friends it doesn’t matter if they live across an ocean. Every time I come back to Sweden it feels like I haven’t left at all. It’s like time stands still sometimes. But it’s different to being in Sweden for an extended time, I miss the seasons, like winter.
Exactly, I’ve read that when you first arrived here you thought that the snowflakes were going to be as big as snowballs.
—Yes, I think I had seen a Disney movie before we went to Sweden and that was the only thing I knew about snow. So I was surprised when I saw the small flakes for the first time, and thought, ”is this it?” But then I went to bed and when I woke up the next morning the landscape was covered in snow. So me and my dad went out at six in the morning to have a snowball fight.
You were born in the small city of Khon Kaen in North-East Thailand — your mother was sent to relatives Thailand royalty so that she could learn to become a more ‘refined’ lady. You said in an interview that your mother’s story is much more interesting than your own.
— Yes, she has done a lot of crazy stuff. She was one of the first mixed-race generation in Thailand. My grandpa came from the USA and my grandma from Thailand.
How do you think your parents have influenced your journey to becoming a rapper?
—They’ve been chill since I was a kid. They let me try lots of stuff and have had my back. I’ve tested lot of shit. I remember the first album I released and my dad came in while I was listening to it and said ”ah, this sounds like a real song”.
What’s typical traditional folk music of Thailand?
— It’s typical to have big concerts in the middle of nowhere, where bands play for ten hours with a bold light show, dancers, comedians and lots of food. You go there with you family and stay until dawn. Then other families from different villages gather. The music has been the same for 50 years and everyone knows the melodies. When you hear this music you have to dance, it doesn’t matter how old you are — everyone just dances!
Have you been influenced by Thai folk music when it comes to your own?
— Yes, the tunes I sing come subconsciously. It is classical folk music with simple country beats, and it’s called ”Molam”, ”mo” means professor or doctor and ”lam” means to dance nicely.
The professor dances nicely?
— Rather a professor of dance. When you say ”mo” to someone in Thailand, it means that you are great, for example the best guitar player and so on.
”I want to be a legend among legends. That’s how I dreamed and wanted my life to be.”
How do you write music?
— In the beginning I wrote a lot and words would just appear in my head. Now it’s more casual, I met my bros and we start by making a beat and built on it from there.
Is that how you created ”Legendary Member”?
— I came to Sweden last year without a plan but only the name ”Legendary Member”.
What does it mean, Legendary Member?
— I want to be a legend among legends. That’s how I’ve dreamed and wanted my life to be. I’ve always felt that I have something in me, that I should become something big. But I’ve never wanted to be number one, or the king. I want to be one among the biggest. I guess I want to make a difference. Sounds like Drain Gang.
— Yes, I’m living my dream.
Is there a narrative in your new album, what is it about?
— There’s no story behind the album except that it’s made out of brotherly love. The same reason as to why we make all our music. It’s the same energy in everything we do. We never know what the end result will be, we are just having fun and making music.
You’ve said that you never rapped like this before as you do in ”Legendary Member”.
— It’s really literally, I have never been using words like this before. How I articulate this sentence for example: ”In the embassy, looking like a bank“. I usually sing out my feelings. Sometimes the words get right for the tune I create.
How has moving to Thailand and living there for five years influenced your latest album?
— A lot of stuff has happened that I haven’t processed yet, feelings that need to come out. I have had it for several years, but the timing wasn’t right. Now when it was time to do this album, everything just came out of me. My choices in life have become my source for making music. I don’t make a product, it’s just emotionally charged tunes, something from the heart.
Your music is very connected with you as a person?
— Yes, but it hasn’t always been that way. Before I was deported to Thailand it was completely different.
Do you consider yourself political in your music?
— No, I’m not political. Well… I try to have some kind of message.
You wrote quite personally about your experience of being deported from Sweden, especially on the "Tiger" album.
— Yes, that album is kind of political but more on a personal level. I didn’t even know why I did that album. But when I think about it, what made me sing and make songs was all the things that happened around me.
Your EP ”S.O.S Suicide or Sacrifice” is a really strong title!
— It was a period in my life when I didn’t know where I was going. It is the same with the album cover, when you see the picture it looks like the boat is sinking. But in my world maybe the boat is on its way up. That’s what ”S.O.S” means to me.
The other night, when you and the rest of Drain Gang were having your picture taken in the pitch black night under a starry sky, you said: ”This is a dream come true”. Tell me about that.
— It felt magical being there, like the ceiling from when I was a child, you know with the luminous stars. I just got emotional and hugged my bros.