In today’s social media age of hyperbole where an artist’s every move is immediately labelled “iconic”, talking about how a new act is the future of pop music could seem disingenuous. In the case of 27-year-old Rina Sawayama, however, it’s actually the truth. Not only has she been labelled such by publications like Interview Magazine, Dazed and Confused, Noisey and INTO, but her debut mini-album RINA, released in 2017, saw her land on a heap of “Best Of…” lists, including those by The Guardian, The Needle Drop and Pitchfork.

Born in Japan, Rina and her family emigrated to the UK when she was five years old. At university she had shirked her Japanese heritage for fear of further being picked on, she later embraced where she came from by re-immersing herself in the J-Pop of her youth and playing video games. She also took solace in the pop music from when she grew up, with acts like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake becoming cathartic escapism.

The amalgamation of these experiences makes up the foundations of RINA, the singer’s exceptional debut mini-album. Over eight tracks she traverses topics of identity, mental health and society’s relationship with technology. With nods to the productions of 90s and 00s pop stalwarts Max Martin, Timbaland and The Neptunes, Rina, alongside collaborator Clarence Clarity, crafted a soundscape that pays homage to the past while gleefully rushing head-on into the future.

If you’re on the lookout for love songs, however, RINA isn’t the record for you. In fact, she admits that she can’t even write them. Instead, everything veers towards the political and has an academic lens.

Dorian Electra makes music that defies gender norms. Their songs blend 00s pop and 80s funk with a unique and futuristic, gender-bending vocal style. They were recently featured on Charli XCX’s track “Femmebot” along with Mykki Blanco and have played live with XCX at a number of shows and afterparties curated and organized by Dorian. Dorian’s on-stage persona is best described as a mix of Britney Spears and a sleazy Las Vegas lounge singer. Most recently, Electra performed at NYC Pride 2018 as well as supported Russian group Pussy Riot on their first U.S. tour. Their last two singles and music videos, “Career Boy" and "VIP" have garnered press and playlist spots from Billboard, The Fader, and Buzzfeed among others. Paper Magazine named Dorian one of the "100 Women Revolutionizing Pop" and Buzzfeed listed them as one of "19 Female Artists You Need to Look Out For." This year will see Dorian releasing a slew of new music and videos while continuing to take their live show around the country.


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