Aug 02, 2020
Why Rina Sawayama is speaking out against the Mercury Prize
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BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - JUNE 28: Rina Sawayama performs onstage during Ladyland festival at Avant Gardner on June 28, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
Japanese-born Rina Sawayama isn’t considered British enough for the UK’s top music prizes, and she’s speaking out about it.
Sometimes, we forget how complicated things can be in the music industry and we never really know what goes on behind the scenes. But this past week, Rina Sawayama gave us a glimpse into her struggle in the industry, one that most of us probably never thought of. She’s not “British enough” to earn the United Kingdom’s top music prizes — even though she’s lived there almost her whole life.
In an interview with VICE, Sawayama talks about how her goal has always been to earn the prestigious Mercury Prize, one of the most highly anticipated awards in the UK music scene. With the release of her debut album Sawayama in 2020, her hopes to one day win were dashed. When the shortlist was released, she was noticeably absent from the list of nominees, despite having one of the top-rated albums of the year (and being considered one of Sir Elton John’s favorite albums of the year, too).View this post on Instagram
Congratulations to all the nominees for this year’s @mercuryprize ???????????????? Unfortunately, not everyone gets to make that list. So I want to shamelessly plug two artists that were overlooked. New music from Rina Sawayama – @rinasonline and Westerman – @westermanmusic are two of my favourite albums of 2020. Check them out. ????????
A post shared by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on Jul 26, 2020 at 2:22am PDT
It’s easy to dismiss this as just an omission — not everyone can be nominated for everything, right? — and praise the other amazing female artists who also got nominated, like Charli XCX (for her quarantine-produced album how i’m feeling now) or Dua Lipa for Future Nostalgia. But unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
The reason Rina wasn’t nominated wasn’t because there were too many talented artists and she didn’t make the cut. It was because she was born in Japan, and there’s a nationality clause in the rules for the Mercury Prize, as well as for the BRITS, another major honor for British artists. The Mercury terms and conditions explicitly states: “Artists must be of British or Irish nationality. Artists are of British or Irish nationality if they hold a passport for either the United Kingdom or Ireland and/or a birth certificate from the United Kingdom or Ireland (“British” or “Irish” respectively).”
It’s true that Rina was born in Japan, but she moved to England when she was only five years old. She lived in the country uninterrupted for 25 years and holds an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) visa, but that’s not enough for the strict Mercury Prize clause. The problem is her home country, Japan, doesn’t allow for dual citizenship, and Rina doesn’t want to have to give up a part of her heritage just to adhere to outdated ideas of what it means to be “British.”RELATED PRODUCTTailgate Womens Rolling Stones Oversized Tie-Dye T-Shirt Multi LBuy Now!Buy Now!
Let’s get one thing straight: Rina’s whole life is in the UK. She went to school there, she’s signed to a British label, she wrote and recorded the album almost entirely there, she pays taxes there. Why should she be excluded from one of the top accomplishments for British acts solely because she doesn’t fit into their tight definition of Britishness?
Though this has always been a clause in the rules, it doesn’t seem like it’s ever been publicly acknowledged until Rina spoke up. “I don’t ever want anyone to ever feel like this when they’ve worked so hard on something and everyone can see that you’ve worked really hard, but the people who reward excellence in this country don’t,” she told VICE.
Though Rina may be the first to say something, she can’t be the first to have experienced this feeling of “othering” by bureaucratic British awards. The UK has a diverse population, but it isn’t the first time they’ve been called out for racism or intolerance of immigrants. If more artists spoke out about their struggle to be considered “British” in the music industry, it could help make a difference and maybe even change those strict guidelines for future submissions.
This isn’t the first time the Mercury Prize has taken some heat. In the past, people have speculated that being nominated for the title is a “curse” on your career, the same way many say that winning Best New Artist at the Grammy’s can be a curse. They’ve also been critiqued for ignoring certain genres of music, especially classical and heavy metal, to name a couple, despite claiming to consider every genre equally.
Their strict rules have also come under fire. My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields accused the Mercury Prize’s organizers of “banning” their self-released album, m b v, from the shortlist nominations due to the fact that it didn’t have “a digital and physical distribution deal in place in the UK.” In 2005, critics argued that the band that won the top prize, Antony and the Johnsons, should not have been eligible since, despite being British-born, were actually raised in the United States.
Think about that for a second. A band that was British-born but raised elsewhere is allowed to be considered British, but Rina Sawayama, who has lived in the United Kingdom for nearly her entire life, is not. It’s great that Rina has spoken out about this injustice because it’s unfair that such a talented artist can’t realize one of her biggest dreams because of a technicality.Next: Kylie Minogue joins 2020 disco resurgence with new single
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Two young men arrested in the Mallorcan city of Manacor for torturing and killing a cat
Josep María Aguiló FOLLOW PALMA DE MALLORCA Updated: 08/10/2020 20:24 Save Related news
The National Police reported this Monday, through a statement, that last Saturday agents of the Corps, in collaboration with members of the Local Police of Manacor, proceeded to the arrest of two young men of Spanish nationality as alleged perpetrators of a crime of animal abuse of a cat. Specifically, both young men had tortured and killed the animal on a street in that Mallorcan town.
The events occurred in the early hours of last Saturday, at 0230 hours, when the “howls of a cat woke up the neighbors.” These neighbors observed how “four young they had tied a catAt the same time they were attacking him to later end his life. At one point, when the suspects had the feline tied with a rope, “one of the young men began to put his fingers in the cat’s eyes, managing to pull one of them out of the orbital basin, and ending his life.”
Once the emergency services had knowledge of the facts, a patrol of the Local Police of Manacor went to the place, making the first inquiries and discovering the cat in a lifeless container. The agents carried out a search in the area, locating two suspects and proceeding to arrest them, as allegedly responsible for a crime of animal abuse.
Subsequently, the proceedings were instructed at the Manacor National Police Station, where they took charge of the steps in order to clarify the facts. The investigation is still open, with the aim of “identifying the rest of the young people who were in the place and determining their involvement in the events, not ruling out more arrests.”