Rina Sawayama discusses the importance of age diversity in the music industry

Rina Sawayama

Rina Sawayama discusses the importance of age diversity in the music industry

  • Rina will release her second album, Hold The Girl In September.
  • The Japanese singer has worked with Lady Gaga and Charli XCX.
  • Changed the criteria for nominating singers for the Brit and Mercury Awards.

Rina Sawayama will release her second album, Hold The Girl In September, This Hell, a massive bop influenced by Shania Twain, has just been launched. Rina’s career is on the rise, thanks to high profile collaborations with Lady Gaga and Charli XCX. The singer may be singing about her way to hell, but her career is also on the rise.

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Rina made news last year when she successfully changed the criteria for singer nominations for the Brit and Mercury Awards, allowing people who do not have British citizenship but who have resided in the country for at least five years to be considered. The Japanese singer, who has been a UK resident for 27 years, was initially told her debut album XS was “not British enough” to compete for the awards. Following the #SAWAYAMAISBRITISH campaign, she was fortunately nominated for the Rising Star Brit Award.

“It’s just a little thing that keeps people from feeling like they can’t reach their full potential,” Rina says, speaking to Grazia on Radio 1’s Big Weekend, “I went to Cambridge and I studied politics and I felt like so many people helped me along the way to get there. And I just want to do it in any way I can to try to change things.

But another thing Rina, 31, says is that the music industry can improve when it comes to age diversity. “My first album deal was at 29,” she says. “And maybe that’s the thing that really needs to change. People have to think it’s not just about teenagers. There are like many people who are between 20 and 20 years old with incredible stories. I definitely wonder in hindsight now, with all the labels that turned me down for the first album, I wonder if that was a factor. She adds, “I really like seeing artists like Self Esteem. And one of my favorite records last year was Jessie Ware. It’s nice to see this age diversity.

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There have been rumors that Rina will be supporting Lady Gaga on tour, when Gaga is in London next month performing at Tottenham Stadium. Rina provided her vocals on Gaga’s remix album for Chromatica (and later met Gaga in Vegas after Rina’s crews tour bus broke down). “I don’t think I would be making music if it wasn’t for her,” Rina says. “Gaga really set the model for authenticity and just loves being yourself.”

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