Rina Sawayama - Next Wave #755

Most of us are addicted to the internet. Endlessly scrolling, not many can turn this obsession into productivity. Japanese-born and London-raised singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama does exactly that though with her maximal R&B tracks about the anxiety, love and compulsion we feel towards the digital world.

Moving from Japan to London at the age of five, Rina spent her formative years immersed in the saccharine sweetness of Japanese pop. “I have a vivid memory of singing along to ‘Automatic’ by Utada Hikaru”, Rina explains, “and my parents and were like, ‘you must become a singer!’”. Her influences broadened to include the treasure trove of late ‘90s and early 2000s Pop-R&B made by the likes of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue and soon she formed the band Lazy Lion. As her band mates became increasingly occupied with side projects, most notably bassist Theo Ellis forming Wolf Alice, Rina went solo.

Finding her voice wasn’t an easy process though. “I spent a long time when I first started trying to fit in with what the charts sounded like”, Rina tells me, “even down to my tone of voice, but it made me miserable!”. Some of this pressure to conform came from the identity struggle of being an immigrant: “a lot of immigrants go through this period of being ashamed of your heritage and I was trying to be white and British”.

Read the rest of the piece in Clash Magazine.

[This feature was originally published in Clash Magazine on 11/04/17]