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Tips Breaking Genre Boundaries: Best Genre-bending Movies! – The Japanese-born British musician (and upcoming ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ star) returns Friday with the country-tinged ‘Hold the Girl,’ the latest step in her evolution from pop culture student to teacher.

. Pop culture references even appear in his music—on his recent single “This Hell” he borrows Shania Twain’s famous “Let’s Go Girls,” and criticizes the paparazzi’s treatment of Britney Spears, Princess Diana, and Whitney Houston. He loves 2000s nostalgia and pretended to give Gwen Stefani an idea as a songwriting exercise.

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For a certain type of internet pop fan who would appreciate her current Twitter display name (“RINA SLAYWAYAMA”), Sawayama’s variety of influences should come as no surprise. For them, the Japanese-born British singer is a boundary-pushing artist since the dreamy video for “Cyber ​​Stockholm Syndrome,” from his debut EP.

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, fall in 2017. The neon-orange-haired Sawayama crooned R & B surreal track on life online, and since then he has carved a different line in pop music never repeating itself. R&B-inspired

His genre. A crunchy guitar, a fast synthesizer, or Carly Rae Jepsen references could all be markers of a Sawayama original—and it helps that he often pairs it with bright blue eyeshadow or a bedazzled cowboy hat. The wealth of knowledge he gained as a pop fan gave him the tools to create something new.

“It’s not so much, ‘Oh, I got into this little subgenre, let’s try to do something like this,'” British multi-instrumentalist Clarence Clarity, who has production credits on.

And both of his LPs, say. “It taps into different moods. I might be like, ‘Okay, that’s kind of like mid-’90s Radiohead, what you’re talking about. Let’s listen to some of that and just smash that together with No Doubt or something else.’ And he’s still very open to doing that.” This process gives a mixed bag, and this is not an accident. “I would imagine that when even a casual fan sees that Rina has a new track out, you will go and listen to it just out of curiosity because you know that it is different every times,” Clarity said.

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“I just think good rock writing is great pop writing,” Sawayama says of mixing genres. “I feel we’re almost at a point where every genre is represented in popular music. I think it’s impressive.”

While his unpredictability has carved out a niche of fans, people he calls “pixels,” Sawayama is about to break out in an even bigger way. He had to encourage

From far away due to its release during the severe shutdown of COVID-19, but since then he has collaborated with Charli XCX and Elton John, the latter of whom made a joint presentation with him in the New York Times.

(“It was nothing you can pigeonhole. It was like hearing, I suppose, the Mothers of Invention in the late 1960s,” John says about Sawayama’s music.) He also branched out into an acting career; He will make his film debut next year

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. But for Sawayama, all these changes are par for the course. After years of working to pursue a music career, he was never content to limit himself. The only difference now is that while his style and sound may have turned heads with curiosity, he is now ready to keep them watching.

, about a 13-year-old’s last week of middle school, is the most tangible of the entire record. “When you’re a teenager, you put yourself in precarious situations, not because you want to but because you want to fit in. And I think I did a lot of that,” he said. “We are very fortunate to live in a time where there are films like [

] is taking place. I was just like, wow, this is literally very accurate about how teenagers grow up and how they feel about their bodies and the amount of shame that comes with being a teenager.

Reason because Sawayama is at a moment of reflection in his career, which might sound odd for an artist who is only on his second LP release. Having just turned 32, his journey to pop stardom was not typical: He signed his first album deal with UK label Dirty Hit at 29, which is a comparatively late start for an industry built on the minor trappings of exploitation contracts . (“The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read about myself? That I’m an industry plant,” Sawayama said in a recent PopBuzz video. “Six, I’m 31. Anyone who tried to plant me didn’t make a big work. .”) Sawayama talked about his unique path, tweeting in 2019 about how he spent 20 years focusing on education, mental health, and working multiple jobs to finance his first EP before leaving home at 27, and that he felt “pressured to lie” about his age.

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A music career was not initially on his radar. After high school, Sawayama lost some friends at a “party school” and felt lost, so he went all academic. “I was just purely so interested in psychology and politics,” he said. “I was not at all ready for the amount of work that he was going to do, but I did it.” He ended up getting a degree in politics, psychology, and sociology from the University of Cambridge. As for when he saw music as a solid path: “I was not, until it was.”

He befriended some creatives in Cambridge, including a hip-hop group called Lazy Lion that he sang for, and worked odd jobs to fund a post-grad music career. These included selling ice cream and working at an Apple store, but her biggest income came from modeling for the London-based Anti-Agency, despite not having what she said was “the typical model look.” His self-sufficiency gave him the freedom to pursue his artistic vision without compromise, and after years of agitation, he came to the scene with a very developed aesthetic, especially for a new artist. “He’s always approached songwriting and making music in a world-building way,” Clarity says of Sawayama’s process. “He’s thinking about the concept of the video while we’re writing, and if he can’t see the whole picture of the life a song can be, from the stylization of the campaign around it, then it doesn’t take off. .” He also had a sense of humor that he has kept ever since, from the language of 2017 “Ordinary Superstar” from.

, parodies out-of-touch celebrities who swear they’re “just like you,” in “this hell,” which celebrates eternal damnation in an underworld where “the devil wears Prada and loves a little drama.”

At the time, Clarity played in an indie rock band and became upset by the scene. He started putting out more pop-focused solo projects in 2012 that generated some buzz, which he tried to snowball into more production work with other artists. When he was introduced to Sawayama in 2015, he was intrigued by his pop inclinations, and was drawn to his rock background. “I was looking for new people to work with who had bigger, more ambitious pop dreams,” he said. “I think Rina was just looking for a producer or a co-writer with bigger, bolder ideas that would cut through the noise.” He also connected with his ability to constantly evolve: “I think we just both have very short attention spans of creativity,” he said. “You do one thing then it’s like, cool, great, this is over.”

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Showcased Sawayama’s pop sensibilities, his 2020 debut album turned them on their heads. While best remembered for its harsh juxtaposition of nu-metal guitars against melodic pop vocals (it’s hard to forget the whiplash in “STFU!,” which Billboard described as akin to “Limp Bizkit if Fred Durst was JoJo” ),

. First it made a big push, even with the limitations that came from an early pandemic release. “I was completely in hermit life during lockdown,” he said. “And then from it and not only the world completely changed, but I felt like my life had changed a lot in ways that I did not understand.”

While he appreciated the success of the album, it was difficult to bask in it during the pandemic. “Throughout promoting my first record, I just felt like,

. People were dying and here I am trying to promote one like, ‘Here’s my new video for ‘XS!'” he said. “I was pretty nihilistic about it. But I had to put that aside and realize what my job is: to try to make people happy and entertained. And I think when I realized that I can’t save people from the global pandemic … that’s when I felt the value of what I did.” Quarantine albums like Taylor Swift’s

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, and reached the term that he described as “reparenting” himself. “I think when you’re in your 30s, you really feel like you’re an adult,” he said. “And being able to look back on some experiences I had when I was a teenager and know how actually they were quite wrong,

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