The friendship between artists Rina Sawayama and Elton John spans genres and generations, proving that those different talents and experiences make for one hell of a collaboration. The duo released a poignant new version of Sawayama’s single “Chosen Family” on Wednesday (April 13) that celebrates finding love and acceptance within one’s friendship circle, or chosen family.
The song, which originally appeared on her 2020 debut album Sawayama, was reworked from its atmospheric, electronica into a smooth, heartwarming duet featuring vocal and piano accompaniment by John. Its music video spotlights the two as they perform before a blue background and sing the LGBTQ+ anthem’s powerful lyrics: “We don’t need to be related to relate / We don’t need to share genes or a surname / You are / You are / My chosen family.”
Speaking with Zane Lowe on New Music Daily, Sawayama described the song as a love letter to her friends. “It was just really my genuine feelings towards my friends,” she said. “I think it speaks of pure and true love for me, there’s nothing weird about it; it’s just a straight-up love song to my friends.”
Sawayama shared in a statement that working alongside John on the track was “a special experience” that she would never forget. “I got shivers when I heard his voice through the monitor and became emotional when he added the piano parts,” she said. “Elton has been such a huge supporter from before the album, and when we finally met to record this song we clicked from the get-go. I hope people can hear the magic!”
John echoed that magical sentiment, telling Lowe that the track is “exactly what we need to be saying right now” and that Sawayama is a true star. “To be honest with you, I was just so blown away not by just her music but by her attitude, her confidence, her demeanor — everything about her has star written all over it,” he said.
At the end of the interview with Lowe, Rina hinted that she’s currently in the process of writing a new album. “It’s really painful to write an album in lockdown, that’s the honest truth,” she said. “The UK’s been under lockdown since December and things are just starting to lift. I’m kind of ready for that challenge. But it’s still painful.”