Rina Sawayama Was Once Fired From An Apple Store For Modeling In A Samsung Ad

Rina Sawayama has had a big year. After releasing her standout debut album Sawayama, the singer performed on late-night talk shows, earned cosigns by the likes of Elton John and Lady Gaga, and even announced she’ll be starring alongside Keanu Reeves in John Wick 4. But the singer’s success didn’t come overnight. Sawayama worked tirelessly for years before finally securing a record deal, and she had to work some odd jobs along the way.

Sawayama recently sat down for a cover interview with Billboard where she talked about all the obstacles she faced on her rise to fame. Before signing with Dirty Hit Records, she found out one record label used a racist nickname, calling her “Rina Wagamama” behind her back. On top of that, a major-label A&R company backed out of a deal last-minute after hearing the demo to her hit song “STFU!”

But even before recording her debut album, Sawayama worked a number of odd jobs to support her musical aspirations. The gigs included selling ice cream sandwiches out of her friend’s truck in London and working as a nail technician in a salon. She even scored a job working at an Apple store, but says she was fired just a few months later after management found out she had modeled in a Samsung advertisement.

Reflecting on the beginning of her musical pursuits and the aftermath of her Apple job firing, Sawayama said she didn’t have many resources. “When I started out, I was like, ‘What do you do as an artist?’ I had no idea how to release things or why it’s important to release songs or albums,” she said. “I didn’t grow up around the music industry. I have no connections.”