Rina Sawayama Rages Against Microaggressions In New Single STFU!

by | Nov 29, 2019 | Sound/Vision

Pop futurist Rina Sawayama returns with the release of her new track and video STFU! released via renowned London based label Dirty Hit. This follows Flicker, which was released a year ago, and explores similar cultural experiences. This time, though, she is raging against all the microaggressions she has experianced by collecting some and exposing the ridiculousness of the stereotypical statements and questions about her race.

The new single takes inspiration from the nu-metal scene that flooded the 00s, mixed with her unique twist on pop. Produced by friend and long-term collaborator Clarence Clarity, STFU! is packed with distorted guitars and thrashing drums juxtaposed with Rina’s haunting vocals which are infused with an important message; Rina’s rage against microaggressions. As a Japanese woman growing up in the Western world the concept behind STFU! was born out of Rina’s experiences, her inner angst about microinsults and all too familiar stereotypes.

The track pairs Rina’s now signature sound of customary high gain crunching guitar contrasted with high octane pop evident on fan favourites Afterlife and Cyber Stockholm Syndrome. Rina is currently putting the finishing touches to her debut album with STFU! being a small taster of what is left to come from this eclectic release.

Co-directed by Rina and Alesandra Kurr the video opens with actor Ben Ashenden featured as Rina’s date – a concept that was birthed by Rina, stemming from lived experiences. Set in an up market Japanese restaurant Rina is hit with a barrage of cringeworthy, offensive, insensitive and stereotypical statements and questions about her race leading her to explode with rage and disbelief at what is taking place. Talking about the inspiration behind the single and video Rina explains,

“STFU! is a song about releasing the rage against microaggressions. As a Japanese girl growing up in the West I dealt with an array of aggressors ranging from: sexual stereotypes, comparisons with Lucy Liu and Cho Chang, to having to be the unofficial PR person and tourist board to Tokyo (a city of Western fascination that I left when I was 4), to people shouting Asian greetings down the street (nihao! Konnichiwa!), and finally to people doing “slit eyes”. The way I’ve dealt with these micro aggressions in recent years has been through comedy – my Asian friends and I have bonded over our shared experiences, laughing at how truly ridiculous these microaggressions are. Through humour and we heal and can move on. This is the spirit of STFU! It was truly a therapeutic experience to condense all the things that people have said to me over the years into a situation that highlights how ridiculous these comments are when said all in one go in a context (like a first date) of flattery”.

The ignorance of Rina’s date shines through and he is oblivious to the rage building. It is full of comedic moments, right from the start when he stabs the sushi with his chopsticks. We all know someone who thinks they know everything about a culture, when they plainly have no idea, right? When he hints at ‘slit eyes’ her inner rage is exposed with this catchy single. Accompanied by 2 backing singers the single starts with them bathed in red, as the red mist descends!

Born in Japan, Rina and her family emigrated to the UK when she was five years old. During her teenage years she discovered her love of music and academics, the latter leading to a place at Cambridge University where she also began to notice the cultural differences and ostracisation amongst different races. These experiences allowed Rina to carve out her own identity, entwining her culture with her western life, evolving into an artist with a distinct and unique sound that experiments, expresses and educates defining a new style of pop.

Rina is the most recent signing to London label Dirty Hit, an independent record label founded in 2009.

After a summer of live performances, including World Pride’s Ladyland festival, Brighton Pride and London’s All Points East Festival this Autumn also saw Rina support Charli XCX on her UK tour including a show at London’s Brixton Academy and will be gearing up for a tour next year. To follow Rina’s updates, sign up to her mailing list here: https://www.signthefuckup.co.uk/

By Tony Creek

Tony has had a passion for music of all genres since an early introduction to the Rolling Stones and Rock in the 70's. He also loves to write and discover new music, so reviewing and publishing features is his idea of heaven. Unfortunately work and his wife's love of R n B has a habit of getting in the way!

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