London-based Japanese singer and producer Rina Sawayama has streamed her single, “Where U Are”. The new tune (with production here courtesy of Hoost) finds Ri further elaborating on the pitfalls of identity in the digital age which she satirized with recent Fader & Best Fit-approved single, ‘Tunnel Vision’. Whilst that outing probed futile efforts to simultaneously package & maintain a cyber ‘Best Self’ across multiple platforms (sample lyric: ‘I’ve got 100 tabs open in my mind’), ‘Where U Are’ finds Rina kicking things up a gear, nailing the disconnect at play in modern relationships between interactions Online and those In Real Life, with all the insight you’d expect from a Cambridge Politics graduate. Fittingly for the retro-futurist territory Rina’s music occupies, the track originally began life (in thoroughly 2012 style) as a Garageband demo cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’, now retooled with snippets of Jacko’s lyrics & brought bang up to date here over handclaps and insistent, offbeat guitar bursts.
Speaking about the preoccupations behind the track, Ri says; ‘Whether you’re doing long distance, or meeting people on a dating app, being catfished, or sexting- the characteristics of an online-based relationship are super interesting to me. Online you can present your best edited self, and bypass lots of the messiness and awkwardness that comes with real human interactions. Your overheating phone substitutes human warmth. Weirdest of all- you’re together, but also very alone”.
Rina’s distillation of modern dislocation versus an early Noughties RnB sensibility is informed in part by an early childhood spent in her native Japan, later seguing into the unusual cultural bubble of attendance at a Japanese School in North London, where an ongoing fascination with the idiosyncrasies of J Pop began. Studies at Uni were rapidly interspersed with various stints in bands, including a the hip hop project, Lazy Lion, alongside Wolf Alice’s Theo Ellis. Rina also worked with cult Swedish artist/photographer Arvida Byström, to direct the stylish attendant video for ‘Tunnel Vision’.”Where U Are” is set for release alongside “Tunnel Vision” later this year as part of the Alone Together EP.