Elton John has given Rina Sawayama some “great advice” on upcoming new music

Rina Sawayama has revealed that Elton John has offered her some “great advice” regarding some as-yet-unreleased music.

The British-Japanese artist, who released her second album ‘Hold The Girl’ today (September 16), collaborated with the legendary musician on a reworking of her song ‘Chosen Family’ last year.

  • READ MORE: The NME Big Read – Rina Sawayama: “I want to make live moments and memories that last forever”

It came after the pair struck up a friendship, with John having praised Sawayama’s debut studio record on his Rocket Hour radio show in 2020. He’s since been avid fan and supporter of her work.


Speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read cover feature, Sawayama spoke further about John assisting her with clearing a guitar riff on her single ‘This Hell’, which bears similarities to the ABBA‘s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’.

“I was stressed as fuck because I was like: ‘this is our first single, this is our lead single, and I can’t use the guitar riff that I want’,” she recalled, adding that John ended up putting her in contact with the Swedish pop icons.

ABBA’s Benny Andersson subsequently gave Sawayama his blessing to keep the original part in the finished track.

“Elton is always willing to help. He’s just amazing,” Sawayama told NME. She also revealed the John has given her guidance on some upcoming new tunes.

Rina Sawayama on the cover of NME
Rina Sawayama on the cover of NME

“I trust him so much with songwriting,” the singer continued. “I’m literally like: ‘You are one of the best songwriters in the whole world, if not the best’. I always ask him, ‘What do you think?’ and he gave me such great advice as well.”


Elsewhere in NME‘s new Big Read interview, Sawayama opened up about feeling “really numb” in the period around releasing her debut album, and touched upon the experience of writing its follow-up during the pandemic.

Additionally, the artist talked about putting an alternative spin on Lady Gaga‘s ‘Free Woman’ for the pop star’s 2021 remix album, ‘Dawn of Chromatica’.

In a five-star review of ‘Hold The Girl’, NME wrote: “Genres may come and go, but Sawayama’s second album is defined by her ability to fashion each of these sounds into big, brilliant pop songs. The best British pop album of the year.”

Rina Sawayama is due to embark on a UK and Ireland headline tour next month (find tickets here) ahead of a run of US gigs in November (find tickets here).