Rina Sawayama – STFU!

The video for Rina Sawayama’s latest single, directed by Ali Kurr, starts with one guy (played by comedian Ben Ashenden) talking. He talks, and talks, and doesn’t seem to take any cues that his conversation partner is starting to get uncomfortable with what he’s saying and how he’s saying it. Then woman stuck listening to him, played by Sawayama herself, erupts into rage-filled song.

STFU! confronts the kind of lurking racism and other prejudices so casual, intended as compliments even, that one rarely knows what has happened and how to respond. The song itself was crafted in an “intense” overnight process with English musician and frequent collaborator Clarence Clarity. In an interview with the publication Gal-Dem, Sawayama talks about the influences for the sound of the single:  

I was thinking a lot about early 2000s pop-rock and nu-metal; about No Doubt, Limp Bizkit, t.A.T.u. and Evanescence…It’s a time in pop that was just so interesting to me!

Sawayama then discusses the sentiment behind the lyrics and her vision for the music video:

For queer people, for people of colour, that rage is real,” she says, “And you can’t really talk about it or show that rage before you find community – and then you can laugh about it, humorise it.

When talking with NME, she added,

We can’t just normalise using Japan or Japanese culture in the way that we’ve been doing. We don’t have any respect for the people whether they’re living here or there. And that’s kind of like the broader message behind my album.”

The singer-songwriter recently signed with the label Dirty Hit, and this is the first single off her upcoming album, releasing next year. As for the video, the visual tone is dark and vibrant, shuttling through different lights on personas of fury as the song shifts back-and-forth from brash tones to a mockingly twinkly melody.

STFU! and its accompanying video are welcome, assured statements that not only demand but command respect.

Diandra Rodriguez

Proudly Latinasian NorCal American.

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