V137: Rina Sawayama (GEN V)

The pop powerhouse reflects on her growing fandom, what true allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community looks like, and measuring success through being content with her artistry

This cover story appears in V137, available now for order!

Rina wears Valentino / Bracelet Messika / Watch Omega

Pink embraces everyone!-Rina Sawayama

The only thing you can predict from multidimensional pop star Rina Sawayama is that her art will be totally unpredictable. It’s a part of what makes the Japanese-British performer one of the decade’s most captivating figures; everything from her sound to her visuals and live performances are so unique, so unfamiliar to anyone else in the game, that finding comparable artists is next to impossible. Finding a fan base for Sawayama, however, was quite the opposite. “I developed a bit of agoraphobia in the pandemic,” she says while on tour. “Then when the world opened up again, I had hundreds of thousands more followers and was recognized a lot more than before because my album came out right at the start of COVID hitting the U.K.”

Rina wears tights Versace / sunglasses Swarovski

Those hundreds of thousands were ecstatic when Sawayama announced her sophomore album, Hold the Girl, due out on September 2 of this year. The album’s first single, “This Hell,” embraces the artist’s tendency for fusing the personal and the political, Sawayama shares. “The song is about how my queer friends have felt shut out because of certain traditional and religious beliefs…if certain people say queer people are going to hell, then let’s party in hell!” And while it’s easy for us to boast about Sawayama’s growing fan base or popularity, she’s much less interested in using those metrics as any sort of barometer. “What I’ve realized is that if I’m happy, then that’s success.”


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