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Rina Sawayama

Rickshaw Stop San Francisco

Thursday, September 20, 2018 9:00 PM


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In today’s social media age of hyperbole where an artist’s every move is immediately labelled “iconic”, talking about how a new act is the future of pop music could seem disingenuous. In the case of 27-year-old Rina Sawayama, however, it’s actually the truth. Not only has she been labelled such by publications like Interview Magazine, Dazed and Confused, Noisey and INTO, but her debut mini-album RINA, released in 2017, saw her land on a heap of “Best Of…” lists, including those by The Guardian, The Needle Drop and Pitchfork.

Born in Japan, Rina and her family emigrated to the UK when she was five years old. At university she had shirked her Japanese heritage for fear of further being picked on, she later embraced where she came from by re-immersing herself in the J-Pop of her youth and playing video games. She also took solace in the pop music from when she grew up, with acts like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake becoming cathartic escapism.

The amalgamation of these experiences makes up the foundations of RINA, the singer’s exceptional debut mini-album. Over eight tracks she traverses topics of identity, mental health and society’s relationship with technology. With nods to the productions of 90s and 00s pop stalwarts Max Martin, Timbaland and The Neptunes, Rina, alongside collaborator Clarence Clarity, crafted a soundscape that pays homage to the past while gleefully rushing head-on into the future.

If you’re on the lookout for love songs, however, RINA isn’t the record for you. In fact, she admits that she can’t even write them. Instead, everything veers towards the political and has an academic lens.

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell St
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States (Directions)