Rina Sawayama paints a self-portrait | Portrait Mode
26 August 2022, 16:27 | Updated: 31 August 2022, 17:25
Rina Sawayama has opened up about the inspiration behind her new album, Hold The Girl, online addiction, and the technical advice Keanu Reeves gave her while filming John Wick 4.
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Released just one month into the UK's first national lockdown, the record was praised for its experimental edges and genre blending, and earned rave reviews from critics. Rina's army of fans, her beloved 'Pixels', grew exponentially, especially in the queer community where songs like 'Chosen Family' resonated with many.
The idea of releasing an album during a lockdown is still strange, but it was even stranger at the beginning of the pandemic. There was no precedent, no path to follow for this. And with no IRL feedback from fans at shows or at meet and greets, Rina had to settle for absorbing the constant flood of appraisal flowing directly into her DMs and mentions across several social media platforms.
Praise is a good thing, right? Well, it is, but without the normal distractions of her offline life, and being trapped in the house alone, Rina describes how reading comments about herself online became an unhealthy habit.
"I was not limiting my time online at all," Rina explains. "I was responding to comments, reading all the comments, and just being completely uncontrolled in terms of my online addiction and just reading such praise about myself and the record was like addictive, you know?"
In the end, Rina made a drastic but ultimately necessary decision to unfollow everyone on social media.
"I was like scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and just reading stuff but it became so unsustainable that I actually then just unfollowed everyone on Instagram," she said. "I unfollowed everyone on my Twitter and on TikTok [too]. I just went completely the other way, where I really limited my time on there and, since then, I've been happier because sometimes ignorance is bliss.
"I still want to post stuff on there, because I find it quite fun," Rina continued. "So I have people helping me do that now because I really do want to talk to my fans as well.
"But the platforms that I'm able to talk to my fans, without actually giving away my phone number, I don't really like those platforms as much. I just don't think that being on [social media] is actually good for mental health. It's like trying to balance that all the time, feeling guilty about being online, whilst also being online and also promoting the record online."
As well as the imminent release of Hold The Girl, next year will see Rina making her acting debut in John Wick 4 alongside Keanu Reeves. Rina will play Akira in the fourth instalment of the action franchise.
Describing the filming and training for John Wick as "one of the most intense but best experiences", Rina opened up about her fears going into the project, as well as how her co-star helped with technical advice during filming.
"It's really scary doing something for the first time, like film acting, and it going out in cinemas around the world," said Rina. "And so, if you ever make a mistake on screen, that's printed and I had to be okay with that and be like, you know what? Even if my performance is terrible, I've got to still love myself. It's okay. I tried my best and that's all you can really do.
She continued: "Keanu would be so kind and remind me when things were like a close up or wide, because not knowing how to do film, or act in a film, I would just peak way too early. [For example] If it's an emotional scene, I would like bring it to the wide [but] no one can see in the wide, and he'd just be like just telling me the technical things.
"At the time, I couldn't have my acting coach on set because of COVID. And so I was literally learning on the job and asking other huge actors what they thought."
Rina in her acting era? We just know it's going to be iconic.
Watch the full interview with Rina by hitting play on the video at the top of this page or head over to Global Player.
Rina Sawayama's new album Hold The Girl will be released via Dirty Hit on September 16. Pre-order here.