meta-scriptSol Blume Festival Returns To Sacramento With Miguel & Jessie Reyez As Headliners |


Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images 


Sol Blume Festival Returns To Sacramento With Miguel & Jessie Reyez As Headliners

Additional festival performers also include a great array of emerging artists and 61st GRAMMY nominee Tierra Whack

GRAMMYs/Jan 31, 2019 - 05:33 am

Sacramento's Sol Blume Festival has announced it will return for its second year to Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento, Calif. on April 27. This year the festival is headlined by 61st GRAMMY Awards nominee Miguel, joined by Jessie Reyez and a great array of emerging talent.

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Emerging artists at Sol Blume include Snoh Aalegra, Dave B, Jess Connelly, J.I.D, Kiana Ledé, Tobi Lou, Masego, Queen Naija, Parisalexa, Raveena, Ivy Sole, Umi, Summer Walker, and Tierra Whack whose "Mumbo Jumbo" is nominated for Best Music Video at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. Billboard has more detail about artists' backgrounds.

Festival organizers told the Sacramento Bee attendance last year was about 6,000 and said, "Creating and producing this event is an amazing milestone for Sacramento's thriving music community, and we just couldn't be more excited about what the future holds."

Tickets, VIP packages and more information are available at the Sol Blume website. See why Sacramento music fans hope this is the beginning of a long tradition.

Miguel Talks Essence Fest, His Latin Roots, And Self-Care On The Road

Photo of Eminem performing at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2022.
Eminem performs at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2022

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images


New Music Friday: Listen To New Albums & Songs From Eminem, Maya Hawke, ATEEZ & More

Dive into the weekend with music that’ll make you dance, brood and think — by Jessie Reyez, Ayra Starr, Adam Lambert, and many more.

GRAMMYs/May 31, 2024 - 04:11 pm

After the cookouts and kickbacks of Memorial Day weekend, getting through the workweek is never easy. But you made it through — and now it's time for another weekend of however you decompress. As always, killer jams and musical food for thought have arrived down the pipeline.

As you freshen up your late-spring playlist, don't miss these offerings by artists across generations, moods, genres, and vibes — from K-pop to classic country and beyond.

Eminem — "Houdini"

It looks like Dua Lipa isn't the only artist to name-drop Erik Weisz this year. In a recent Instagram video with magician David Blaine, Eminem hinted at a major career move, quipping, "For my last trick, I'm going to make my career disappear," as Blaine casually noshed on a broken wineglass.

With Em's next album titled The Death of Slim Shady, fans were left in a frenzy — was he putting the mic down for good? If "Houdini" is in fact part of Eminem's final act, it seems he'll be paying homage to his career along the way: the song includes snippets of Em classics "Without Me," "The Real Slim Shady," "Just Lose It" and "My Name Is."

The superhero comic-themed video also calls back to some of the rapper's iconic moments, including the "Without Me" visual and his 2000 MTV Video Music Awards performance. It also features cameos from the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Pete Davidson — making for a star-studded thrill ride of a beginning to what may be his end. 

Read More: Is Eminem's “Stan” Based On A True Story? 10 Facts You Didn't Know About The GRAMMY-Winning Rapper

Maya Hawke — 'Chaos Angel'

"What the Chaos Angel is to me," Maya Hawke explained in a recent Instagram video, "is an angel that was raised in heaven to believe they're the angel of love, then sent down to do loving duties."

Chaos Angel, the third album by Maya Hawke, out via Mom+Pop Records, is an alt-rock treasure with a psychologically penetrating bent. Smoldering tracks like "Dark" and "Missing Out" plumb themes of betrayal and bedlam masterfully.

Jessie Reyez & Big Sean — "Shut Up"

Before May 31, Jessie Reyez's 2024 releases have come in the form of airy contributions for Bob Marley: One Love and Rebel Moon. And for the first release of her own, she's bringing the heat.

Teaming up with fellow rapper Big Sean for "Shut Up," Reyez delivers some fiery lines on the thumping track: "They b—es plastic, that b— is a catfish, oh-so dramatic/ And I'm sittin' pretty with my little-ass t—es winnin' pageants." Big Sean throws down, too: "B—, better read the room like you telepromptin'/ And watch how you speak to a n—a 'cause I'm not them."

Foster the People — "Lost In Space"

Indie dance-pop favorites Foster The People — yes, of the once-inescapable "Pumped Up Kicks" fame — are back with their first new music since 2017's Sacred Hearts Club. The teaser for their future-forward, disco-powered new song, "Lost in Space," brings a psychedelic riot of colors to your eyeballs.

The song is equally as trippy. Over a swirling, disco-tinged techno beat, the group bring their signature echoing vocals to the funky track, which feels like the soundtrack to an '80s adventure flick. 

"Lost in Space" is the first taste of Foster The People's forthcoming fourth studio album, Paradise State of Mind, which will arrive Aug. 16. If the lead single is any indication — along with frontman Mark Foster's tease that the album started "as a case study of the late Seventies crossover between disco, funk, gospel, jazz, and all those sounds" — fans are in for quite the psychedelic ride.

Arooj Aftab — 'Night Reign'

Arooj Aftab landed on the scene with the exquisitely blue Vulture Prince, which bridged modern jazz and folk idioms with what she calls "heritage material" from Pakistan and South Asia. The album's pandemic-era success threatened to box her in, though; Aftab is a funny, well-rounded cat who's crazy about pop music, too. Crucially, the guest-stuffed Night Reign shows many more sides of this GRAMMY-winning artist — her sound is still instantly recognizable, but has a more iridescent tint — a well-roundedness. By the strength of songs like "Raat Ki Rani" and "Whiskey," and the patina of guests like Moor Mother and Vijay Iyer, this Reign is for the long haul.

Learn More: Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer & Shahzad Ismaily On New Album Love In Exile, Improvisation Versus Co-Construction And The Primacy Of The Pulse

Willie Nelson — 'The Border'

By some counts, Willie Nelson has released more than 150 albums — try and let that soak in. The Red Headed Stranger tends to crank out a Buddy Cannon-produced album or two per year in his autumn years, each with a slight conceptual tilt: bluegrass, family matters, tributes to Harlan Howard or the Great American Songbook. Earthy, muted The Border is another helping of the good stuff — this time homing in on songwriters like Rodney Crowell ("The Border"), Shawn Camp ("Made in Texas") and Mike Reid ("Nobody Knows Me Like You.") Elsewhere, Nelson-Cannon originals like "What If I'm Out of My Mind" and "How Much Does It Cost" fold it all into the 12-time GRAMMY winner's manifold musical universe.

Explore More: Listen To's Outlaw Country Playlist: 32 Songs From Honky Tonk Heroes Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard & More


South Korean boy band ATEEZ last released new material with late 2023's The World EP.Fin: Will. Now, they're bringing the K-pop fire once again with their 10th mini-album, GOLDEN HOUR  Part.1.

Released in a rainbow of physical editions, the release was teased by a short clip for "WORK," where ATEEZ pans for gold like old prospectors in an off-kilter desert scene, then proceeds to throw the mother of all parties. As for the rest of GOLDEN HOUR, they bring flavors of reggaeton ("Blind), wavy R&B ("Empty Box") and reggae ("Shaboom") — further displaying their versatility as a group, and setting an exciting stage for Part.2.

Learn More: Inside The GRAMMY Museum's ATEEZ & Xikers Pop-Up: 5 Things We Learned

Ayra Starr — 'The Year I Turned 21'

Beninese-Nigerian singer and GRAMMY nominee for Best African Music Performance Ayra Starr pays homage to the big two-one with her second album, The Year I Turned 21, which she's been teasing all month. We've seen the crimson, windswept cover art; we've soaked up the 14 track titles, which reveal collaborations with the likes of ASAKE, Anitta, Coco Jones, and Giveon. Now, after small tastes in singles "Commas,""Rhythm & Blues" and "Santa" (with Rvssian and Rauw Alejandro), we can behold what the "Rush" star has called "excellent, sonically amazing" and "unique, because I've been evolving sonically."

Watch: Ayra Starr’s Most Essential “Item” On The Road Is Her Brother | Herbal Tea & White Sofas

Adam Lambert — "LUBE" & "WET DREAM"

The "American Idol" and Queen + Adam Lambert star is turning heads — for very good reason. He's going to release AFTERS, a new EP of house music and an unflinching exploration of queerness and sex-positivity. "I throw many house parties and my aim was to create a soundtrack inspired by wild nights, giving a voice to our communities' hedonistic desires and exploits," Lambert explained in a press release.

The first two singles, "LUBE" and "WET DREAM," achieve exactly that. From the pulsing beat of "LUBE" (along with the "Move your body like I do" demand of the chorus) to the racing melody of "WET DREAM," it's clear AFTERS will bring listeners straight to a sweaty dance floor — right where Lambert wants them.

Wallows Talk New Album Model, "Entering Uncharted Territory" With World Tour & That Unexpected Sabrina Carpenter Cover

Chief Keef press photo 2024
Chief Keef

Photo: Casimir Spaulding


Chief Keef On 'Almighty So 2,' His Long-Awaited Return To Chicago & Why He's "Better Now Than I Ever Was"

More than a decade in the making, Chief Keef unveiled the second installment of 'Almighty So.' The rapper details why the new album is not a sequel to his 2013 mixtape, but rather another symbol of his artistic evolution.

GRAMMYs/May 14, 2024 - 02:51 pm

Chief Keef fans have been awaiting a sequel to his influential mixtape Almighty So since he released it in 2013. The project came out in the midst of a magnificent and experimental run for Keef, when he was changing his style seemingly at will from Almighty's almost avant-garde soundscapes to woozy, autotuned melodies (Bang Pt. 2) to stoic street tales (Back From the Dead).

Keef, now 28, has been well aware of the anticipation for a follow-up to Almighty So, teasing the project since 2019. Five years later, it's finally here — but it might not quite be what fans were expecting.

In keeping with Keef's mercurial and exploratory artistic nature, Almighty So 2 has very little to do with its predecessor, save that comedian Michael Blackson does skits on both. In fact, Keef tells that the title of the project does not mean that he views it as a sequel to Almighty So.

"There's no connection at all," he asserts. Almighty So is his nickname, and one of his many alter egos; it stems from "Sosa," the Scarface-inspired nickname he's been using since the beginning of his career. The title, he says, "is not just a project that I dropped years ago. It's me. I'm still almighty."

Almighty So 2, released May 10, is indeed very different. It boasts a Keef who is nearly free of vocal doublings and ad libs, ready to let his voice clearly be heard on a wide range of subjects, including some introspective and emotional looks at himself, going all the way back to his childhood.

Several days before the project's release, caught up with Keef while he was at home in Los Angeles. Below, the Chicago-born rapper breaks down the album's lyrics and music, its most surprising guest appearance, how he views his own legacy, and his return to his hometown for the first time in over a decade.

This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

You've been talking about this record since 2019, and originally you were saying it's going to have a lot of melody. The album I heard is very different from that. Can you tell me how and why the vision changed?

I just wanted to do something I never did. A couple of songs is stuff that you probably would never hear me do.

What's different about those songs?

Just more rapping about real things instead of flexing or talking about cars and weed. I'm rapping about real stuff in my life — in life, period.

"Believe" is like that. 

Oh yeah, "Believe," I forgot about that. You really know these songs. Okay, that's dope.

I heard that song as being about wanting and trying to change. Can you tell me about writing that and deciding to open up a little bit?

When I was making that beat, it gave me that feeling of, let some stuff out. That's all.

There's a line on there that really grabbed me. You're talking about growing up and you say you had to be an "evil kid." The word "evil" really struck me. What do you mean by

Because I was always smart — brilliant, intelligent. My circumstances had to be different, though. There wasn't a way for me to really show…I had to do the streets thing. I had to be a gangbanger. I had to grow up doing all that stuff instead of my potential that I know that I have, that I'm using doing all this stuff like designing. I can do everything. Really, literally. I probably could fly a plane, too.

Before I get into my ideas about it, what's different about your rapping on this album?

I feel like I'm just old. I'm 28, I'm finna be 29 now, man. I'm not the same young boy that grew up in Chicago on 54th and 61st. I guess you can call it growth.

I still got some stuff on there like the regular Sosa — the turn up, the fight-in-the-club or whatever you want to call it. Jump around, mosh pit music. I still got that. 

I was thinking more about just the sound of your rapping. There was almost no doubling, almost no ad libs. Your voice is very clear. Can you tell me about that creative decision?

I haven't been doubling like that. I don't know why I stopped it. You're right, I wanted to be more clear. 

Once I do a song, if I didn't do the ad libs, it must have not needed ad libs. When I do ad libs, it's like, I gotta do these ad libs. And if a song doesn't have ad libs on it, probably I can't really say the stuff that I want to say on the ad libs, or I didn't know how to put it. So I just said, scratch the ad libs and it's good like that. It's perfect. You don't need it, or the doubles. 

You have two songs on this record, "Runner" and "1,2,3," where you do that Dipset thing of talking back to the vocal sample. Why'd you do that?

I grew up on Juelz [Santana] and Cam'ron and Jim Jones. On 61st, we was a clique called Dipset, which comes from them. That's where I come from, so that's what I know. I guess I'm still living that right there.

Tell me about making beats for this album. There was some sampling in there, which is something you haven't done too much of.

I started sampling in probably 2019, 2020, or something like that. A lot of my producer friends, even my rapper friends, be like, "I love the way you sample. Damn, how do you sample like that?" Even though sometimes, I'll just let a sample play — it won't even be a chopped-up sample. 

If you get a beat from someone else, do you go in and add stuff to it?

Yeah. I can't take a beat and not put my stuff on it. Because it might be a dope beat, but if I feel like it need a couple more snares or a snare roll or some extra high hats or a bridge, I'll add my stuff in.

The album has some introspective lyrics, but it's also very funny.

I want to have some fun with it. A lot of people just drop projects and be regular degular. I wanted to do different. 

Like one song on the album, it takes four minutes to come on. It's just a beat and there's a skit playing of a dude in heaven talking. It's for car rides or trips. I don't know, I just wanted to do something different than what's regularly done all the time.

What's the connection between this album and the first Almighty So? Why call it Almighty So 2?

There's no connection at all. It's just, Almighty So, that's me. It's not just a project that I dropped years ago — it's me. I'm still Almighty So. I might not call myself that all the time, but it's forever me because when I did come out, it's something that I made and I stuck with it. 

It's just a name that everybody know. It's going to go down in the books. Forever, I'm Almighty So. I just had to do a number two, as in growth. It's the growth version of me.

I'm trying to display that I'm not the same 16, 17, 18-year-old that was running around Chicago with a gun on his hip. I'm far away in Los Angeles, California in a big, stupid-ass house with nine bathrooms and eight bedrooms. I got 12 cars outside my house, and they all mine. I don't have to have that gun on my hip. I ain't gotta watch my back all the time. 

I'm not the same. I'm a different guy. I feel like I'm better now than I ever was. I'm a better individual: the way I think, the way I talk. I'm more talkative now. At first, I wasn't even f—ing talking, bro. At first, you couldn't get me to say s— but a couple words.

When was the last time you listened to the first Almighty So?

I don't listen to that thing. Everybody else around me do. From friends to fans, everybody still listen to it, but I don't listen to it, barely ever. Every blue moon, I might end up playing it somehow. Because don't forget, I was listening to that s— nonstop when I made it. And I had to perform a lot of it too. So I know it by heart. I don't need to listen to it.

You have your first performance in Chicago in many years coming up at the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash in June. How are you feeling about it?

It's been a while, man. I ain't gonna lie, it's gonna be like I'm a tourist when I go there. 

It's been a long, long time. It's been like 11, 12 years since I touched the pavement in Chicago, or Illinois, period. I'm ready. I know it's going to be a big thing. A lot of new people probably think I'm a ghost. There probably be teachers like, "Yeah, he went to this school," [and the students will be like,] "No, no, he ain't real." 

So a lot of people are going to be excited, just knowing I'm from there and I ain't been there in so long. People that's not in even Chicago — all them surrounding cities gonna show up [too], because Sosa has not been home. And they know it's gonna be big.

Given what happened back in 2015, when the cops shut down your hologram's concert, are you worried that the authorities will be looking for an excuse to shut it down?

Hopefully they won't shut it down. I ain't been there in 11 years. I ain't done nothing to no-motherf—ing-body, man. I ain't in no cases, no RICOs, no murders, none of that s—. Leave me the f— alone, man. 

I've been chilling, making clothes and making music. Don't shut me down. And even if they did, I don't care. I'm going home. Back to L.A. I go. At least y'all know that I tried.

From the beginning of your career, you've had this association with the word "turbulence." You use Turbo as an alter ego.

[Laughs] How do you know all this? This is some Nardwuar s— right now, man.

When did that start? Do you remember the first time you were like, "Oh, that word, that's me?"

You said, when did it start? It's my alter egos I just make in my damn head. That's all. I'm versatile, so I never make the same sounding s—. Every song you listen to of mine, it's not going to be like, "That sounds like the last one I just played."  

I just got my alter egos, and I just make names. And then Turbulence, Turbo, that just came with one of my alter egos from 2017. Every other year I got a new name and a new ego.

Lately I haven't done it, though. I've been chilling, on some grown man ish. I feel like [making alter egos is] more the young Sosa. Like I said, this was in 2017 when I made that name. I haven't really been doing it lately. No new aliases.

You talked earlier about designing clothes and doing other creative stuff. When you're making art or graphics, or designing clothes, what feels the same as making music to you, and what feels different?

It's the exact same thing. S—, just like I make a beat, making a shirt takes the same creativity. It's just in a different form. Instead of melodies, you're using pictures and s—. You're drawing stuff. Instead of drawing that melody in FL Studio, you're drawing an angel for a shirt.

It's the exact same thing. Even the colors. The colors are like the EQ on the beat or on the song — it brings out the light in the stuff. 

So yeah, it's actually the same thing to me. And I've been doing this same s—. All the clothing, the beats, I've been doing the exact same thing that I'm doing now since 2008. How many years is that? That's a long time.

Like the Glory Boys logo: I made that logo in late 2009. I was what, 13, 14? I was doing this s— since I was 10, 11. It started when my momma bought me a computer. She bought me a computer when I was like 6. And then I was doing unbelievable things, unimaginable things. 

When I was doing that, I knew that this is my calling. Like, you real good with computers, if you're not good with nothing else. Anything with a screen, I could do it my sleep. If I show you the s— I can do, you'd be like, what in the f—? I'm talking coding — I can code some s— up. Your mind would be blown.

One of the things that does connect this album to the first Almighty So is you have Michael Blackson come back. Why?

Because he was on the first one. I'm just like, I got a skit or two for him. I got a couple of different skits from a couple different people. I got Fabo from D4L on there. He's on "Almighty" the song, talking. I got Donterio from my city, a funny dude I mess with. He be like, "On baby, on baby" — he famous for saying that. 

I got Michael Blackson. I wanted to make it fun and funny, so it ain't just like you're riding around listening to regular music. I wanted to make it a type of movie, but just in the music form. 

One of the guest appearances that really got my attention was Tierra Whack. I thought she was great.

Yeah, me and Tierra, we're real friends and we talk. And I love the way she do everything, so I had to put her on my s—, man. Just on some random s— — like, they won't expect no damn Tierra Whack, you know? So I had to do that. And I got my little weird ways, I'll tell you that.

I wouldn't have guessed she would be on this album.

Yeah, I know you wouldn't. Nobody would. Chief Keef and Tierra Whack? How and where and when? I wanted her to do something different than what she do. I was like, "I got this song I want you to do, but it ain't nothing like you always do. It's different." And she's like, "Hell yeah, come on, let's do it." That's my dog, for real for real.

A lot of critics talk about how influential you are. Are you aware of people saying that stuff about you?

Everywhere! If I had 500 M's every time [I heard that], I'd be Jeff Bezos. The f—? I think I'd probably be bigger. I would be more rich!

I be hearing that a lot, though, man. I be tired of hearing that s—. I be like, we know. Me, you, and God know that. It's okay. Let people do what they do, man. I was a big fan of Gucci [Mane] and Lil Wayne. Still am. So if I got people who love me like that, s—, man. 

I used to get mad about it, but I don't give a f—. I'm a big fan of those two boys I just said. Even to this day, we still ride around listening to the old Gucci. If you get in our car and we on tour, all you going to hear is Gucci Mane from 2006, 7, 8, and 9, 2010, 2011. And we still even sometimes take our raps [from that]. The old Lil Wayne, I still even rap like that. If you listen to "Jesus," I got his flow — some Lil Wayne, the old Wayne, inspiration. So I guess I inspire, the way they inspire me.

Are you still determined to change your style frequently? That used to be a thing about you: every year you'd have a whole new approach to music.

You hip, bro. You smart as hell, I ain't gonna lie. That's why I'm talking to you like I am. But anyway, you're right, I don't necessarily. 

How I am, though, I never do the same s—, like I told you. You'll never say, "This sounds exactly the same as the other one." I probably got, like, two songs [that sound alike], and that's just if I'm messing with the same producer. 

So I can't say that every year I take that approach. But I guess every day I take that approach, or any time I pick up the damn microphone. I'm just trying to think, I want to do something different, or at least try.

Do you think of yourself primarily as a rapper? A producer? A person who's good with computers?

What I say is I got angles like Kurt. You know Kurt Angle? Jack of all trades. 

Call me Jack, don't call me Sosa. I guess I got a new alias today — we made one.

50 Artists Who Changed Rap: Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem & More

UMI It Goes To 11 Hero

Photo: Ryusei Sabi


It Goes To 11: UMI Shows Off The Studio Gear That Streamlined Her Recording Process

Neo-soul singer UMI introduces her Apollo Twin X interface, the piece of musical gear that allows her to crank out her ideas "immediately."

GRAMMYs/Apr 10, 2024 - 05:00 pm

Neo-soul singer UMI describes herself as a "multi-dimensional artist" whose ideas often come to her in the spur of the moment — and she "needs to get it out immediately."

Thanks to her favorite musical gear, the Apollo Twin X interface, she can bring her ideas to life on the go.

"Instead of going directly into your computer [to record], you can use something like this," UMI explains in this episode of It Goes to 11. "It helps to enhance the sound of what you're recording and makes the recording process easier."

Before she invested in her Apollo interface, she says she used to buy cheap ones for $50 or $100: "I thought I was getting the best experience, but then, I went to a studio. They had one of these. Ever since then, I've been like, 'This is my baby!'"

As a self-proclaimed "studio gear nerd," UMI exclaims that the Apollo Twin X isn't just a fancy part of her collection — it's changed her process altogether. "I don't have to book studio time anymore," she says. "I can do it all in my house!"

Press play on the video above to learn more about UMI's cherished Apollo Twin X interface, and check back to for more new episodes of It Goes to 11.

UMI Is Ready To Manifest Her Way To Stardom With 'Talking To The Wind': "I Learned All The Lessons I Needed To"

UMI Press Photo 2024

Photo: Eddie Mandell


UMI Is Ready To Manifest Her Way To Stardom With 'Talking To The Wind': "I Learned All The Lessons I Needed To"

Nearly six years since her breakthrough hit, singer/songwriter UMI has focused on growing as both an artist and a human. She sits down with to detail the vulnerable and meditative process that led to first independent EP, 'talking to the wind.'

GRAMMYs/Jan 16, 2024 - 04:43 pm

For UMI, there's comfort in spontaneity. When you take a look at her typical creative process, it's not an exact science — and that's precisely the point. In between those moments where the neo-soul/R&B singer/songwriter felt inscrutable or moments where she wished there'd been an easy Google answer for how to be happy, she found herself in nature. No plan, no schedule, no pressure — just reveling in the resilience of the wind. 

This confidence is intrinsic, almost woven into her DNA. Born Tierra Umi Wilson to a Black father and Japanese mother, UMI's stage name translates to ocean in Japanese; she's much like her moniker, imperceptibly strong as a wave, beguiling and powerful like the sea. Even as her artistry has metamorphosed — from independently releasing her viral song "Remember Me" in 2018, to partnering with Keep Cool/RCA Records for her projects from 2020-2022, back to being an independent artist —  the nucleus of her music has always been sitting with her emotions in nature. 

UMI's first independently released EP, talking to the wind (due Jan. 19), is a sprawling, sparkling and cinematic experience that translates life's delicately vulnerable moments into angelic, earthly croons. Lead single "happy im" is UMI at her most gloriously honest, detailing changes in her team, pondering attachment styles, and finally embracing both fear and joy. "I was afraid so I ran from you," she sings with curious clarity over a dreamy beat. "Why don't I not think too hard about love?

The release of talking to the wind is a celebratory look at throwing caution to the wind and trusting herself. Born from mood boards, raw and unedited music videos, and last-minute song overhauls, the EP is UMI at her most carefree. "I didn't really know my path, but just one step at a time it was revealed to me," she tells "The whole project has taught me faith in the process." 

After finishing a meal with her mother in the home she purchased for her family, UMI chatted with to discuss finding the peace of mind to create talking to the wind, her organic collaboration with BTS' V, and healing she's doing with fans-turned-friends. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

This is your first project released independently — congratulations! How did you come to the decision to release talking to the wind independently?

When I first started making music up until my EP Introspection, I was dropping all those independently. It's something that I feel like is a foundation to me. And when I was at the label, I think that I just kind of got the label experience of being asked to be someone that I'm not. 

That just was so counter to who I am as an artist, and also feeling like I was labeled difficult for having a strong opinion and knowing who I am. I think that coming face-to-face with that, I just realized in order for me to have the most authentic expression of my music, it was important for me to go back to being independent again. So that I could reestablish, for myself, who I am, come back to my joy, and then from there, kind of decide what my next steps are. 

I learned all the lessons I needed to, but the world is in completely different places. It's way more about authenticity as you feel, than it is about fitting some kind of mold that already existed. 

The music video for "happy im" is a really celebratory look at a queer relationship. What kind of creative decisions went into that? 

I'm an intentions-first kind of gal. So I sit and brainstorm a lot before I even start to create, especially visually. I have this binder in my closet — I scrapbooked a whole binder of what each song felt like to me. What type of visuals do I want? What do I want people to feel? What do I want people to leave feeling with? And once you figure that out, everything comes together. 

With "happy i'm," I want people to take a look into my relationship, and I want people to see what healthy love looks like. And then I was like, What's an intimate way to film? [Kodak] Super 8 [cameras] and film are really intimate, and I'm not going to color it either. I'm not trying to make it something it's not, so let me just show people the raw footage. 

I have a whole PowerPoint of what each song means to me, when I want to come out, how I want to communicate it on social media. Then I scrapbook it and I get a bunch of references. So it's a very all-in process for me. 

My hope is when people listen, if they have a question or something on their heart, by the time they finish listening to the project, some inspiration of clarity comes through them. Which is a meditative experience to me. 


In the past, you've talked about your ancestors really speaking to you when you write songs. "happy i'm" features Japanese lyrics —  how did you decide which lines to write in Japanese? Were there specific emotions you could only express in Japanese? 

That's such a beautiful question. It's interesting, because when I first wrote the song, it was all in English. And that was it for a couple months. And I was like, I don't feel like it's expressing everything that I need to. My whole heart isn't in the song right now. So then, I decided maybe I need another language to explain myself all the way. 

And the thing I love about Japanese is it takes a lot longer, in a way, to say something in the space of one sentence in English. You could say five different things, but because of how Japanese is one syllable, one letter versus it being one word — you can really take your time expressing something. 

That whole verse is really about the feeling of expressing gratitude and also the vulnerability of getting things off your chest — and how once you get things off your chest, it makes space for more love. I feel because I was using Japanese, I was able to say it so patiently and poetically, in a way I couldn't in English. I definitely feel my ancestors, and my family, and my culture moving through me when I mix languages. 

There's a line in "show me out" I thought was very poignant: "of all the places I go to I choose you." Are you ever afraid to put that much vulnerability on a track?

Sometimes, I could be writing a song about an experience I had with somebody that I'm making the song with, or I can be talking about an experience that I've never told them — but I'm going to put it on the song. I think that's more nerve-wracking to me than writing a song to people I might have not met yet.

I think it's because vulnerability is really connecting. A big part of my intention for making music is for people to remember the invisible thread that connects us all and how we all just live the same lives — just different colors or different hues of the same color. We go through the same things at the same time, in our own ways. So, I think the more vulnerable I can be, the more I can reveal that to people. But it is scary sometimes, especially to the people that I'm closest with.

How did the collaboration with BTS's V for "wherever u r" come about? 

V has been a fan of mine, I've been a fan of V for a long time. He had been sharing my music online with his friends for a while and he would post me on his story and tag me. A couple months ago, he did it and, on a whim, I sent him a message — and closed my eyes and threw my phone across the room. [Laughs.]

He was like, "Yeah, I'm down!" At this point, I did not know he was going to the Army. But after we finished this song and after everything had happened, I've just come to realize why he picked the song. 

The song is all about love, long distance love, and love of all kinds. The idea that you can have love for someone and share love with someone, no matter where they are. No matter what time it is, you could send love to the past, to the future, to someone and they don't even know you sent it. Love can be felt, love is so infinite like that. 

When I first wrote the song, I wrote about my grandma — who lives in Japan. I don't get to see her often and, sometimes, I forget to call her. I just wish I could be wherever she is. But, I know that when I close my eyes and go I love you, Grandma, she can feel it wherever she is. Now that [V's] in the Army, I feel like a lot of his fans are going to be doing that, too.

Has there been any moment, or person, or career move in the last year or so that helped you heal? 

A big moment for me was when I opened for Jhené Aiko at the Oakland Arena [on Dec. 2, 2023]. I had some intense impostor syndrome happen before the show and usually, I'm very calm and confident. But, I used to have really bad stage fright, so I feel like it came back up again. I've also been taking voice lessons again, so I'm relearning my voice. I was throwing a fit, I was so nervous and I was so confused, but also just letting it all come up. 

One thing one of my mentors taught me is fear is false evidence appearing real. I just had to keep checking myself and being like, none of my fears are real. I'm allowed to feel them, but I don't have to get into them. 

In the end, I was writing out all the things that scared me and how they weren't true. I really took the time to really dissolve all my fear. And that was very healing for me, because now, when a fearful thought comes up, I have an example of an experience to be like: that's just false evidence appearing real. It's not real.

Have you had a recent fan interaction where you were like, "Wow, I am actually influencing people with my music"?

Yeah, I have this one fan [who is also a] friend. They've come to so many of my shows and they've been going through their transition right now. I've seen them changing their pronouns. I see them finding a new name for themselves. I see their whole confidence and self shift and expand. When my album [Forest in the City] came out is when they decided they were going to start transitioning — and my album was a big part of them accepting and coming out to their parents. 

Their mom came to the [Jhené Aiko] show and me and their mom — we just had this moment of such pure joy, seeing her child coming to self-acceptance. Then, they came to the next show and the way they dress is changing and their confidence is going up and then their voice is changing. Every time I see them, they're embodying more and more of themselves. 

These people really love, care, and support me, but also, I'm actively witnessing them heal in front of me. The fact that I can encourage someone to choose that over unhappiness is so powerful.

You've done some manifestation sessions with your fans on Instagram. What are you manifesting for 2024?

2024 feels so big. I feel like I went through my "Avatar [the Last Airbender]" initiation training phase, for years, on how to be an artist. I really feel like I mastered the elements of artistry for myself. 

I'm manifesting a Billboard hit. I'm manifesting a GRAMMY nomination. I'm manifesting a world tour. I'm manifesting all of my music reaching a broader audience that far exceeds my expectations. 

What I have to share in my life experience is very unique and important for people to hear. And it doesn't come from ego, it comes from a space of love and a space of inspiration. I just get excited for more people to have access to understanding mental health or understanding manifestation — or just hearing the music. 

I always say my success is my mental health and my peace of mind. My career has helped me do that, and that makes me proud. 

When I look at my career, it hasn't made me more stressed, or hasn't made me feel disconnected from my family, or hasn't made me lose myself at all. It's made me become more clear and grounded — in all those areas. It makes me know that I'm going to have a really long, fulfilling, and fun career.

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