Coffee with Nadda Buranasiri

01 Sep 2016
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

After a long career in the music industry, Nadda Buranasiri is rocking the world of airlines as the chief executive of Thai AirAsia X, as Felicity Glover discovers.

It’s been three years since Nadda Buranasiri left Thailand’s happening music scene but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still enjoy music.

As the former managing director of Warner Music (Thailand) and head of Universal Music (Thailand), it’s safe to say that Nadda has neither lost his interest in the industry nor his love of music.

But these days, he says he can enjoy the music more because he doesn’t have to worry about the commercial success of a band or solo artist.

“It’s a hobby now since it’s not work any more but it’s still something I enjoy doing; trying to discover new things,” Nadda says during a recent trip to Muscat.

“Music is more enjoyable now because after those times, when you listen to the demo, you have to think how many cassettes and CDs you can sell out of this, which single you want to cut, things like that.

“But now there’s no burden on the commercial side so you can really enjoy.”

Ask Nadda what his favourite album is and he admits that it’s a tough question to answer. And when he does answer the question, it’s slightly surprising.

“If I have to pick only one album to take to a deserted island, it would probably be a Queen album – either A Night at the Opera or A Day at the Races.

His answer was a surprise because we’d also been chatting about this year’s breakout Danish pop-soul band Lucas Graham – one of his favourite acts so far this year.

“I say [Queen] as it has variety, but I was a music person for nearly 20 years so I still follow it. You can ask me about the latest ones as I know what they are – I do enjoy EDM. This year, I enjoy a band named Lucas Graham very much.”

Now that he’s the chief executive of Thai AirAsia X, Nadda appears to spend more time travelling than he does in his home city of Bangkok. In fact, this is his fifth visit to Oman, a place that he says has a strong affinity with Thailand. And this rapport will no doubt become stronger since Thai AirAsia X has launched direct flights from Bangkok to Muscat three times a week.

“I love Oman,” he says. “I feel that Oman is very different in terms of scenic places to go but very similar in terms of the way Omanis and Thais behave.

“They tend to be very kind, humble and very friendly. I think that is the most important thing. You can see a smile everywhere when you come into Muscat.

“It is the same thing in Thailand – we also act like that. It’s a perfect match because we are so similar, but at the same time we can learn from each other.”

So what would he recommend first-time visitors from Oman do in Thailand. Again, it’s a difficult choice – but that’s only because there’s so much to do in Thailand.

“I think, to have a flexible plan when you come to Thailand because you can enjoy nearly everything. What Thailand has to offer is everything for everyone, so if you like food, you can enjoy probably the best street food in the world or a top-notch restaurant.

“If you enjoy shopping, it’s the same thing – you can go to the Sunday market [Chatuchak] where you can enjoy a variety of things or, at the same time, you can go to the department stores.

“It is tough to say that this is something you have to do and you can’t miss. But probably for a first time in Thailand, I would say go and see the Grand Palace at night when the lights are quite spectacular.

“That would be as good as when you are here as you have to go to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.”

But Naddas adds that Thailand offers something for everyone.

“The people of Oman can enjoy the vast network that we have. If you like beaches, we are connected to go to Phuket or Krabe – even Trang, which is a new seaside province.

“If you like authenticity, then go to Siem Reap. Our passengers from Oman can have lots of choices and that’s why we are here – to be able to tailor your trip, which is important.”

In the meantime, our interview is coming to an end and has come full circle – we are again talking about music. This time, however, Nadda thinks I’ll like an innovative singer called Blood Orange, based on my admission that I’m a bit of a fan of rap.

And you know what? He was right. Thanks, Nadda!

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