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The Grass Is Greener Here: Don’t Sleep On Rina Sawayama


Rina Sawayama. Memorize it. It’s going to be a name with which you will become familiar. The 31-year-old singer-songwriter has been making a name for herself in the music industry. She creates music that will not only be stuck in your head for days but also simultaneously touches on subjects that question the human experience.

Her music will make you feel like a character from Fifth Element or Blade Runner, but in the best way possible. The science fiction world she creates within her genre-bending production allows the ‘pixels’ — the name of her dedicated fanbase — to escape into her music production as she takes them on a story of her life. 

The Japanese-British singer’s first single was entitled “Sleeping and Waking” an electropop and R&B influenced track with an alluring melody. It was later followed up with the B-side track “Who?” on February 27, 2013.

After these, she would then go on to release “Where U Are”, “This Time Last Year”, “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome”, “Afterlife”, and “Tunnel Vision” building anticipation for the release of her first EP, Rina, On October 27, 2017. The project was self-funded by Sawayama herself and discussed the consequences of living in the age of the internet. 

Her ability to entangle the boundaries of genre made her debut album worth the wait. Before its official release on January 17, 2020, the album was supported by the single “Commes Des Garçons (Like The Boys).” This song is an upbeat, 2000s inspired dance track about women adopting male attributes that contribute to toxic masculinity to be viewed as a “girl boss” by society. It questions how society forces women to assimilate to fit into “a man’s world”, hence acting like one of the boys. 

This specific project is a personal body of work from the singer. She is very candid about her life, including her challenges with family issues, imposter syndrome, microaggressions, and sexuality. It’s fitting that the album was named Sawayama because she allows you into her world with entrancing tracks where one song doesn’t sound like the next, yet still sounds like a cohesive story.

Adam Hunn, lead guitarist of The 1975, collaborated with Sawayama, allowing for the creation of adrenaline-rushing guitar solos in the songs “Dynasty” and “Who’s Gonna Save U Now?” The coexistence of the nu-metal, R&B, and 2000s pop songs with the utilization of compression techniques in the production allowed for something magical to come to fruition. The album became critically acclaimed and cemented itself as the standard for music production for the future debut albums. 

But this is only the beginning for Rina Sawayama. The mastery of her sound and on-stage persona shines through both her music and music videos. Since the release of her self-titled album, her fanbase has grown in membership and many praise the artist for her narrative-heavy music videos.

As a society, we are always looking for the next new artist that will redefine a generation. She is already here. Her name is Rina Sawayama.


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