Rina Sawayama: “LGBT + rights in the UK are going backwards” | Ents & Arts News


Rina Sawayama is at home in her London apartment, ready to speak candidly about everything from LGBT + rights to Elton John’s video calls – but first, her less than satisfying experiences with the long-awaited PlayStation 5.

It might seem trivial, but it was a big purchase, she says, a gift for herself after a hugely successful year that saw her celestial rocket fame.

Frustratingly, there were a few startup issues. “Basically it didn’t work at all. ”

Sawayama’s debut album merges stadium pop, metal and rock with elements of trap, R’n’B and opera

After unsuccessfully trying to use his “blue tick power” to get help via social media, the musician took to the Reddit chat website to figure it out.

« [Now] it sort of works in a certain mode, but I’m still not able to use all of the features. But this is where I am … these are my lockdown issues, basically. ”

PS5 issues and lockdown aside, Sawayama has had an exceptional year. His self-titled debut album received critical acclaim when released in April and a legion of fans have flocked to his music during the pandemic. The record sounds like Britney Spears, Limp Bizkit and The Neptunes have mixed together in the best possible way

And to top it off, she just won the Attitude Breakthrough Award.

“I think this is my first UK award so it’s very special,” she says. ” As well [it’s from] Attitude, which is obviously a very important post for our community. ”

Sawayama is one of the few Asian-British LGBT + celebrities to have spoken publicly about their sexuality or gender identity – she previously described herself as bisexual and pansexual.

“Every victory is a small victory. There are always people who want to arm this and use it to build a fence, rather than build a bridge, ”she said.

“There is a lot of negativity in the world, negative rhetoric around our community, even within our community. It must absolutely be remedied. ”

His assessment of LGBT + rights in the UK is also quite pessimistic.

“It feels like it’s a step backwards, especially with trans rights and LGBT education,” she said, pointing to a number of celebrities who have spoken unpleasantly about transgender people during the course. of the last year.

“I think trans people have known this for so long, but just to have so many famous people pleading to be TERFs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]… I don’t know, it was a really eye-opening moment, ”she said. For me, what I can do is support many causes that fascinate me. ”

“Every victory is a small victory. There are always people who want to arm this and use it to build a fence.

It was this passion that many hoped Sawayama would be rewarded in the form of a Mercury Prize nomination earlier this year.

But when the nominees were released, the singer’s name was nowhere to be found. The fans were confused and disappointed.

Sawayama later revealed in an interview with VICE that the organizers of the Mercury Prize and the BRITs, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), require that solo artists have British or Irish nationality to apply for the competition. Participants must provide proof of their citizenship, such as a passport.

While the musician considers herself British, is a British taxpayer and has lived here for over 25 years, she was born in Japan and is on indefinite leave to maintain her status. Japan prohibits people from holding dual citizenship.

Sawayama fans have expressed their frustrations with the BPI’s policies on social media. At one point, the #SAWAYAMAISBRITISH hashtag was the number one trend in the UK.

“I had a pretty stressful experience,” she says. “I haven’t heard of the Mercury at all this time. ”

However, she says she recently had a “great conversation” with the President of the BPI.

“He was really sorry. It’s kind of what I thought it was, just an oversight. They have their own processes for passing the rules, and they assured me that they are passing it through that process. So fingers crossed.

“I think the good thing is that people are starting to listen to stuff that is happening on social media. I wasn’t even expecting anything of this magnitude. I just did an article with someone who also had the same visa status as me. ”

His album explores this status, Sawayama examining his complex relationship with his race.

“When it came out, people got to understand the story and understand what I meant without talking about J-Pop or Japan in a stereotypical way.

“That’s my whole job, basically. Being able to represent myself and the Japanese, or just Asians in general, without having this burden of stereotypes. ”

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Sawayama says she also wanted the record to show her inspirations were the same as any British person her age.

“I remember Limp Bizkit was on the charts. I remember Holly Valance’s Kiss Kiss. I remember Kylie. ”

We could talk for hours about Kiss Kiss and the video – which featured a pretty bare Valance. “It was literally my sexual arousal,” she laughs.

In addition to receiving critical acclaim, other artists have expressed their love for Sawayama’s work. Sir Elton John called his debut the “strongest album” of 2020.

“Oh my God, I mean, what can you say? She said of their friendship. “This is the greatest honor. It really motivates me to continue.

“The first time I spoke to him I just picked up and he was just on FaceTime. Elton John. On my phone. It’s like, ‘what!’ ”

As for the future, Sawayama is about to release the deluxe edition of his debut album.

“It’s really a gift for my fans. They were so supportive of the album.

“It’s just an amazing year. And if I managed to distract people from the really tough everyday life this year, then that’s all that matters. ”


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