Rina Sawayama has spoken of how Sir Elton John is still “hungry” for new music, and always eager to discover up-and-coming new artists.
The singer-songwriter discussed John’s impact on her in a new interview with the Daily Star’s Wired column and explained that, despite his recent retirement from touring, the musician is still eager to continue discovering new music and upcoming artists.
The interview took place during the musician’s annual AIDS Foundation Oscars viewing party, which Sawayama was invited over to headline.
“Elton John was a stranger that changed my life,” she said, via Yahoo News). “He reached out to me because he was a fan of my music. I’m surprised how charitable he lives his life because he’s literally the most famous musician in the whole world.”
She continued, adding that she was particularly inspired by the musician’s devotion to discovering new music: “He wants to be so in touch with what’s going on in the world, whether it’s new artists – he’s always so hungry and that’s always been inspiring.”
This “hunger” to support contemporary artists was made evident in the songwriter’s most recent album. Released in 2021, ‘The Lockdown Sessions’ saw the iconic musician team up with some unexpected contemporary artists including Lil Nas X, Dua Lipa and Young Thug – something which NME regarded as withholding a “giddy eclecticism” that celebrated artists of all genres.
The two have remained close since 2020, when John openly praised the songwriter’s eponymous debut album on his Apple Music radio show – hailing it as his favourite release of the year. Additionally, in 2021, the pair also collaborated on a reworked version of Sawayama’s song ‘Chosen Family’.
Last month, Sawayama took to social media to share her excitement to headline the event – which has been held every year for the last three decades and supports the pianist’s own AIDS Foundation, formed in 1992.
She wrote: “Beyond excited to be performing at #EJAFOscars on March 12 in support of @ejaf. Founded by my wonderful friend @eltonofficial, they’re on an incredibly important mission to end HIV stigma and inequalities around the world, and to spread more love and compassion.”
Following the event on Sunday, new footage has emerged online of the singer performing tracks from her second album ‘Hold The Girl’, including ‘Catch Me In The Air’ and ‘This Hell’.
Elsewhere, Sir Elton John is currently embarking on his farewell tour. Already established as the highest-grossing tour of all time – drawing over £664.4million at the time of writing – the stint will see the musician retire from live performances. All tour dates are currently available on his website, including 10 upcoming shows at London’s O2 Arena and an appearance at Glastonbury.