The Brit-nominated singer credits nightclubs, the NME and the Neptunes as influences – then her debut album caught the attention of a superstar …

“Such a big part of my creativity involves going to gigs to feel the raw energy, the sweat,” says Brit-nominated singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama. “Even how people move to certain beats can be inspiring in terms of writing … I go crazy when I go to gigs. It really removes you from being in your own head.”

Given the pandemic and all it has entailed, gigs have taken something of a back seat in the 31-year-old’s life. That hasn’t stopped her enjoying a huge 18 months, career-wise. She released her debut studio album, Sawayama, to critical fanfare in April 2020, gave a riotous performance in the US on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, walked the Balmain runway during Paris fashion week and also, unexpectedly, became friends with Elton John, who hopped on a remix of her song Chosen Family. Rather poetically, the first gig Sawayama was at after a rollercoaster yet reclusive couple of years was her own.

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