This Music Video Perfectly Captures Our Social Media Anxiety

Meet Rina Sawayama. Before I get into the nitty gritty, take a deep breath, because Rina is an Anti-Agency model, Cambridge graduate and your next favourite pop princess. Well in with the Instagram idols that are photographer Petra Collins and artist Arvida Byström, Rina's world is a candy-coloured infusion of anime, faux fur and cat-eye sunglasses. Her SoundCloud has over 480,000 plays; Zane Lowe approves, and she's a bonafide nail artist. And exhale. We caught up with Rina to find out why she chose to make a comment about the pressures of social media in her sparkly, shiny, sass-fest of a video for her latest single Where U Are.

What were you inspired by for the video?
Well, around about the time I finished writing Where U Are, the whole Essena O’Neill thing happened. People were starting to really question what instagram and Youtube was doing to our brains, and I was like, "seeeee!" I’d been obsessed with the idea and reading up on it so I wanted to direct my own take on the problem. I think the video problematises our online life in a light-hearted way. Visually, I was inspired by Petra Collins and Arvida Byström (who directed my last video, "Tunnel Vision"), and their nostalgic, girl-focused, '90s/early 00’s bedroom aesthetic. I was also inspired by Kari Faux’s "Supplier" video for the VHS/glam vibes, and just general hair rock for the living room scene.

my latest video for Where U Are that i directed with @alessandrakurr is OUT on @dazed (link in bio) ????

A photo posted by Rina (@rinasonline) on

Explain to me the two personas you play…
There are two Rinas. One who's scrolling, stalking and stressing on the internet, and the other who’s living the life I dream of – and feel like I should be living. It's kinda like an honest reflection of my life because I spend SO much time online and not enough time writing and being creative. It's a pain, but I know that it's necessary at this stage to put loads of time and effort into that side of things. I think a lot of people can relate to the problem at the core, which is that we don’t live life in the moment because we are too busy stalking others/ourselves on social media. I think the culture of self-surveillance and branding is quite damaging and is clearly messing with our self-image in different ways. You talk about ‘online female insecurity.’ What do you mean by this phrase?
It's basically a new type of insecurity women feel by being online. Paid posts; Bye Felipe memes, lolita girls, instagram censorship, social media fame, youtube makeup gurus, the list goes on... Women who spend time online have to do a mental balancing act: of expectations and reality, of online and IRL, of real and fake – which is often confusing. I often think that the world is way more feminist/non-racist than it actually is because I spend half my time online with like-minded people. When I get outside and realise that the world is not like that, it can be heartbreaking. The internet can make you insecure about a lot of other things, for example wealth, popularity, bodies (whatever’s in these days), and opportunities, because so much is hidden under the guise of “reality” these days.

What music influences you?
I’m inspired by a mix of '90s/'00s Japanese music and early 00s American R&B/pop/rock. I listen to Mariah, Destiny’s Child, Utada Hikaru, Sheena Ringo, The Cardigans, Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, etc. I used to listen to “cooler” music but now I’m unashamedly pop and true to my real influences!

selfie inception #whereuare

A photo posted by Rina (@rinasonline) on

Do boys ever hit you up on social media?
Ew, yes. Usually on my insta DMs. I actually have my own bye felipe folder ready to unleash when the time is right. Highlights include people asking me for nipple pics in exchange for robot poems – stay tuned!

Do you have any little tricks for combating anxiety?
I try not to check my emails/social media before 11am and after 9pm, and schedule posts and stuff wherever possible. I also meditate and make sure I read a book at some point in the day. Using a Chrome extension called Kill News Feed which literally gets rid of your news feed on Facebook has basically changed my life

What new music are you listening to and where?
I’m listening to Kali Uchi’s EP a lot, but I try not to listen to new music when I’m writing because I get too influenced by them. Instead I’m listening to loads of amazing podcasts like "Stuff Mom Never Told You", "Happier", "Song Exploder" and "Criminal." Follow Rina on Instagram here.

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