rina sawayama's new single is a pansexual bop

That’s right, you read correctly.

by Frankie Dunn
14 August 2018, 12:53pm

Japanese-British singer Rina Sawayama just dropped a banging new single Cherry, in which she announces to the world she is pansexual. “Here’s me coming out as a queer jaPANese cherry blossom!” she shared on Instagram, much to the delight of her Pixels, many of whom are also queer and/or Asian. Taking the boy-girl romance out of shiny 90s-inspired pop, on the Clarence Clarity-produced track Rina gets more personal and political than ever before:

“Down the subway, you looked my way / with your girl gaze, with your girl gaze / that was the day everything changed / couldn't stay the same,” the song opens before building to a chorus that’ll be pretty relatable to anybody who has ever been in a heterosexual relationship while struggling with their bi or pansexuality. “Even though I'm satisfied / I live my life within a lie / holding onto feelings / I'm not used to feeling / cause oh, they make me feel alive”.

Talking to Broadly, Rina explained that although she had never before spoken explicitly about her sexuality, she has “always written songs about girls. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned a guy in my songs, and that’s why I wanted to talk about it.” The artist points out during the interview that she is currently dating a man, which is exactly why she wanted to write Cherry. “It’s the truth for a lot of bi and pan people — they don’t feel authentically queer when they’re in heterosexual relationships, and that is what the song is about.”

Addressing the lack of representation, particularly of queer East Asian women in music, she went on to discuss a conversation she recently had with Korean-American house producer, Yaeji. “We’re so protective of our space, even who we decide to sign to, who we decide to release through, or who we decide to work with. It’s really important to us. Because as queer Asians, there’s not that many of us and we really want to get it right.”

And getting it right, she is. Staying fiercely independent — having released her 2017 debut album RINA on her own semi-fictional label Momoé Records for "distribution purposes" — Rina just released Cherry through supporter of independent artists, PIAS, and their Different Recordings imprint. With the right support behind her and promising change in the air, she’s feeling positive. "I think it's possible to queer the world with pop music,” she told Broadly. “You see people like Troye Sivan and Hayley Kiyoko and all these amazing out musicians. I think as a collective force, it’s possible to infiltrate the mainstream with queerness, rather than just be buried deep underground.” WE LOVE YOU RINA!

Read Broadly’s full interview with Rina Sawayama here.

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Rina Sawayama
queer pop