Based in London, Rina Sawayama puts technology on the forefront of her music by infusing gen-Y cultural commentary into synthy early 2000's R&B (think peak Mariah Carey) and upbeat J-pop (a little Utada Hikaru). Her new track, "Cyber Stockholm Syndrome," is pretty on the nose when it comes to social anxiety and living with a digital alter ego, and speaks to those who know internet romances all too well.
Came here on my own
Party on my phone
Came here on my own
But I start to feel alone
Better late than never so I'll be alright
Happiest whenever I'm with you online
She paints the reality of loneliness at parties and the use of DM's, retweets and like's as company (or a defense mechanism). The tangerine-haired singer is slated to drop her debut album later this year.
In an interview with The Fader, Sawayama says:
“Cyber Stockholm Syndrome is happy and sad, honest and autobiographical, and I feel like I’ve truly written from the heart from the first time. It took two years of rewriting and revising as I wrestled with the beauty and anxiety of digital life. Before, I saw the internet as a captor of our time and free will. But now, I see embracing a positive relationship with our online selves as an act of self-preservation and defiance. In this age, the digital world can offer vital support networks, voices of solidarity, refuge, escape. Marginalised people, or socially anxious people like myself can in fact, be freed. That’s what Cyber Stockhholm Syndrome is about: pessimism, optimism, anxiety and freedom.”
Join the (one-person) dance party here:
Aside from music, Sawayama moonlights as a model signed to Anti-Agency Model Management and has a forward-thinking, brazen look to match. Having studied Psychology, Sociology and Politcs at the University of Cambridge, the 26-year-old uses her body as platform for digi-pop art and a critique of Asian beauty standards.
In a recent interview with Vogue, she explains:
“For a lot of women in Japan, these are the expectations people put on them, from anime culture, kawaii culture [...]That can really put women at a disadvantage, objectifying and infantilizing them”
With her makeup, Sawayama makes it a point to eschew the expectations of a doe-eyed Asian doll.
“I don’t wear mascara usually [...] I just rock the mono-lid and make it shine.”
A how-to on her minimal makeup face:
Things are looking big for Rina Sawayama in 2017. Read more about her creative process and the inspiration for her music videos here.