Fresh off the conclusion of her 2022 tour earlier in May, Rina Sawayama announced her plans to release Hold the Girl, the follow-up to her critically acclaimed album, SAWAYAMA. In an interview with Rolling Stone UK published on Tuesday (May 31), the British-Japanese singer spoke at length about Hold the Girl, and how Taylor Swift provided inspiration on her songwriting approach for the new record.
Sawayama told the outlet that ahead of recording the new album, she started going to therapy for unresolved trauma and often was left wondering if she would be able to channel the pain into a record. But then she thought about Swift.
“I remember when Taylor Swift released Folklore, I was like, ‘This b—h is writing about fake stories and she just wrote a whole album. If she can do it, I need to do it,’” she told the magazine.
Pushing through emotional trauma resulted in Hold the Girl, and though the album addresses topics that are sensitive in Sawayama’s personal life, she explained that she won’t be speaking about the events in detail until she’s ready. “For me, it’s important that the listener is able to listen to it as a pop record first without that background, [and] make their own feelings about it,” she said. “And then, when I’m ready, I think I will be able to talk about what it’s actually about.”
The 31-year-old pop star has a very specific idea of what she wanted the album to sound like, going as far as bringing photos to producer Stuart Price to flesh out her vision. “It was someone meditating on the edge of the cliff, it was seagulls, it was someone on a pier, it was Irish coastline, waves hitting,” she remembered. “And he absolutely nailed it – it does sound like that.”
Country music also serves as a major inspiration for the record, as seen in her recent single, “This Hell.” While it might be an unconventional choice for Sawayama to give the genre a try, she explained that she has “been so fascinated with the feeling of escapism that country music has. It’s very homey, but for a Brit, it sounds like the big Wild West. … It’s quite random for a Japanese-British artist to make country music, but I never really care about those kinds of things. I just want to have fun.”
Hold the Girl is set to be released on Sept. 2, 2022. Revisit the teaser for the album below.