Rina Sawayama is a Japanese-British singer-songwriter and model based in London. In 2017, she self-released her debut extended play, Rina. After signing to Dirty Hit in 2020, she released her debut studio album, Sawayama to widespread critical acclaim.
In 2017, the singles "Alterlife" and "Tunnel Vision", a duet with Shamir, were released, followed by her debut EP Rina. Sawayama was then an unsigned artist, and Rina was released independently; she confirmed on Twitter that she worked for two to three years to save money to release the EP. The Guardian deemed the EP "bracing and modern", stating that Sawayama had proven "she can shepherd pop into the future, too". Pitchfork ranked Rina in its list of best pop and R&B albums of the year.
In 2020, after signing to Dirty Hit records, Sawayama released the singles "STFU!", a nu-metal, heavy metal, pop and avant-pop song, and "Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)", a "homage to early 2000s dance tracks", both from her then-upcoming debut album. A third single, the rock and 2000s R&B-inspired "XS", was released on 2 March. The following month, Sawayama released another single from the album titled "Chosen Family". Her debut album, Sawayama, was released on 17 April to widespread critical acclaim.
In late July 2020, Sawayama made a public tweet about her ineligibility to be nominated for major British music awards, such as the Mercury Prize and BRIT Awards, due to the fact that she does not hold British citizenship. The hashtag "#SawayamaIsBritish" became trending on Twitter in the UK shortly after. Sawayama's movement gained major support from Elton John online, who wrote that he was "happy to hear that the [BPI] are reviewing the rules that led to Rina Sawayama's well-deserved album being snubbed from this year's [Mercury Prize] list of nominees." The BPI later changed the rules to allow anyone who had remained in the UK, including her, to be eligible.
Sawayama has been signed to Anti-Agency and Elite Model Management. In 2017, she was chosen for Versus x Versace's fall winter campaign. She has also starred in campaigns for Jourdan Dunn's Missguided, and wrote and performed an original track titled "Play on Me" for Nicola Formichetti's MAC x Nicopanda.
In August 2018, Sawayama came out during an interview with Broadly, declaring: "I've always written songs about girls. I don't think I've ever mentioned a guy in my songs, and that's why I wanted to talk about it." She identified as both bisexual and pansexual. In July 2020, she signed an open letter to the UK Equalities minister Liz Truss calling for a ban on all forms of LGBT+ conversion therapy.
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