Rina Sawayama Says the 'Fake Stories' of Taylor Swift's 'Folklore' Inspired Her New Album 'Hold the Girl'

"I remember when Taylor Swift released Folklore, I was like, 'This bitch is writing about fake stories and she just wrote a whole album,'" Sawayama recently told Rolling Stone UK

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Rina Sawayama attends the Burberry Autumn/Winter 2020 show during London Fashion Week at Kensington Olympia on February 17, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Burberry); NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Taylor Swift attends the "All Too Well" New York Premiere on November 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Rina Sawayama and Taylor Swift. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty for Burberry; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Rina Sawayama is taking notes from the book of Taylor Swift.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone UK, Sawayama spoke in-depth about creating her upcoming sophomore album Hold the Girl and said hearing Swift's Folklore inspired her to write about personal experiences through a poetic lens.

Following the release of her debut album, 2020's SAWAYAMA, the 31-year-old Japanese-British performer told the outlet she found herself ridden with "anxiety" as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically shifted the record's promotional cycle.

"I was trapping myself and I'm sure a lot of people felt this anxiety: you just became this weird workaholic but depressed person," recalled Sawayama, who then underwent "intense and specialized therapy" and "opened up" to new ways of creating music through complex emotions.

"The new kind of therapy really opened up new points of exploration and I really wanted to see whether I could make those things into a pop song," said the musician.

Sawayama then heard an album that further inspired her to push through the creative rut. "I remember when Taylor Swift released Folklore, I was like, 'This bitch is writing about fake stories and she just wrote a whole album,'" she lightheartedly explained. "'If she can do it, I need to do it.'"

Hold the Girl will tell the story of Sawayama's emotional growth over the last few years. But similar to Folklore, listeners will have to decode the stories featured within the album's lyrics for themselves — at least until the "XS" singer reveals their true meanings.

"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 teased. "And then, when I'm ready, I think I will be able to talk about what it's actually about."

In perhaps an unrelated nod to Swift's genre-bending career, Hold the Girl will also see Sawayama veer into country-inspired sounds, as she's already done on lead single "This Hell," which Rolling Stone UK described as "equal parts Shania Twain, [Lady] Gaga, and ABBA."

"I've just 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," she detailed. "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 will be released Sept. 2 via Dirty Hit.

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