The rising British-Japanese songwriter is making the pop world more relatable — one glittery, retro-sounding synth banger at a time.
Not long after I meet the British-Japanese pop singer Rina Sawayama at the Public Hotel in SoHo, I get my first dose of her anxiety. This particular bout is triggered by two upcoming performances she has scheduled at the Mercury Lounge in lower Manhattan. “I'm always totally underestimating myself, so when I put it on sale I was like, It's not gonna fucking sell,” Rina says. The shows sold out in three hours.
But she's also stressed about the fan meet-and-greets she’d planned: "I was like ‘No one's gonna turn up. No one's gonna fucking turn up.’” (Once again, people turned up.) It goes on like this throughout our chat, for which Rina has arrived in a long puffer jacket that matches her Flamin' Hot Cheetos-red hair. At one point, she brings up Florence Foster Jenkins, the Meryl Streep docudrama about a clueless singing imposter. “That’s what I feel my entire career is,” she says.