Pansexual pop anthems that confront issues of identity and conflict


If you’ve been living under a rock throughout all of 2020 with ear-plugs in, you might be unfamiliar with the pop powerhouse that is Rina Sawayama. Her music has completely blown up this year, with a critically acclaimed genre-defying debut album already under her belt.

Rina was born in Niigata, Japan and moved to northwest London with her parents when she was just five years old. As she navigated the new environment, her parents enrolled her in Japanese school, where she could retain her family’s culture while studying a typical British curriculum.

It wasn’t until she reached her teenage years until she transferred to an all-English schools and the issues of integration began to enter her world. Soon after, her parents went through a messy divorce and Rina began to come to terms with her own sexual identity, now identifying proudly as bisexual and pansexual. 

Cherry is her proud proclamation of pansexuality, drawing on her day-to-day experiences as a pansexual person, as well as the struggles that come with it.

Her debut album SAWAYAMA came out in April this year and is full of loud electric guitar, drawing on alt-rock from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, which comes as no surprise as she used to be in a band with Wolf Alice’s Theo Ellis. 

Rina is one of only a handful of LGBTQI Asian-British celebrities who have spoken about their sexuality or gender identity and her music is always grounded in her personal experiences. On SAWAYAMA, she sings about chosen families, family history, her queer identity and her multi-cultural background. 

It’s as complicated as it is catchy, with influences reaching in from absolutely everywhere. Rina has no fear when it comes to crossing boundaries as she wildly blends pop with R&B, nu-metal and club beats. We can’t get enough and have no doubt you’ll love her too. 

The deluxe version of Rina’s debut album SAWAYAMA is out now. 

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves. //

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