Rina Sawayama on Asian mums, Keanu, campcore and more

Following the release of her new song ‘Hold The Girl’, the star discusses ASMR, therapy, and the magic of pop girls in the latest episode of dA-Zed guide to being...

Therapy is integral to Rina Sawayama, as a person, and as an artist. “I love therapy,” she says candidly in our new dA-Zed guide to being her, crediting it with giving her the “language to understand yourself”. Her latest single, the title track from her upcoming album, “Hold The Girl”, is a testament to this – a building, rousing call to reach back through layers of time and memory to nurture our younger selves. Creatively, therapy has been the key to tapping into these deeper emotions and feelings: “As a songwriter, you go into a room with people you’ve never met, often, and you have to write a personal song about yourself right away, and it’s really hard to open up like that if you’re not used to talking about yourself and your emotions.”

This catharsis can be felt across the breadth of genres on Sawayama’s sprawling second album which synthesises sounds spanning country, garage, indie, and good ol’ pop girls in the same vein as recent collaborator Charli XCX. “Amazing pop girly!” she recalls, describing how they powered through a baltic music video shoot together. Following a precedent set by her first full-length debut SAWAYAMA, this range of references is hardly surprising. Whether it’s down the YouTube rabbit hole of soothing ASMR headless Asian mums cooking dinner in tiny apartments, or “seeking out an REI in every state” on tour in search of the perfect campcore aesthetic – the things that define Rina Sawayama in her dA-Zed guide reflect this diversity of interests across life as well as art.

“My brain is constantly trying to like compute the expectation of pop girl, versus like, how I’m actually feeling in my personal life,” she says of how she balances her pop-girl persona with the layered reality of it all. Going to the BRITs in adult braces, then taking them off so as not to fill “80 per cent of the cinema screen” with them during her acting debut alongside Keanu in John Wick 4, being “completely inept at being a human being” in the presence of babies, and “finding parties really excruciating” are all part of the lived duality of “pop girl” that she’s able to transpose into euphoric pop. Watch the full breakdown in Rina Sawayama’s dA-Zed guide above for more. 

The single “Hold The Girl” is out now. Special thanks to The Standard London.