Future Stars: Rina Sawayama (Unsigned)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Two new pop girls in one mailer? I really am treating you this week! Rina Sawayama probably won’t be working with Max Martin or playing the Summertime Ball any time soon, but anyone who’s into the fashion scene and the more quirky side of pop will undoubtedly be hearing a lot about her. Rina moved from Japan to London at age five, and already had a successful career as a model and a degree from Cambridge before launching her foray into music. Although she seems to be unsigned (“seems” is the key word there, as usual!), she was picked to appear in i-D’s new series of personality-driven video features on artists, alongside stars like Lorde and Sam Smith. Her music has a late 90s/early 00s R&B sound, which doesn’t do much for me (I was too busy listening to S Club 7 in those days), but the i-D interview won me over – she’s smart, likeable and geeky in a cool way. Despite the huge popularity of J-pop and K-pop, there is a bizarre lack of Asian artists in western pop. Along with other alt-pop acts such as Sälen and Hayley Kiyoko, it’s great to see Rina boosting their representation, but a global pop superstar from an Asian background is still seriously overdue.

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