“STFU” Rina Sawayama

Rina Sawayama returns with the release of her new track and video “STFU!” The track is available via the artists’ new label Dirty Hit (The Japanese House, Marissa Hackman, Beabadoobe). 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 video was 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 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 microaggressions 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 humor 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.”

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 ostracization amongst different races. These experiences allowed Rina to carve out her own identity, entwining her culture with her western life, evolving into an artist who defines her own unique style of pop.