Interview with Singer and Songwriter UMI

UMI is a Seattle born R&B artist who is currently studying at the University of Southern California. She writes, sings, and gives a fresh take on music by combining different sounds. Read about her musical journey, advice to aspiring musicians, and the things she CAN’T live without – don’t forget to check out her music too!

BL: How old were you when you started to make music?

UMI: I started writing music when I was 4 or 5. I remember I had a little songwriting journal that I would take with me everywhere.

BL: You are currently attending college and making music. How do you find the time to balance both?

UMI: Yes, I’m currently attending the University of Southern California. It really just comes down to planning/scheduling everything, hour by hour. Every night I write myself a schedule for the next day and make sure I stick to it. Sometimes I have to write papers or do flash cards during my sessions or skip class to make a meeting or something but it’s all about balance.

BL: You self directed one of your music videos. How was that experience?

UMI: I do all the creative direction for my music videos with an amazing team of young creatives called Ouros! But I did direct all of my earlier stuff (like Happy Again). I love it because I get to be hands-on with my art and really curate the aesthetic I envision for myself. But I’ve also learned that working with other people tends to lead to more creative projects and ideas so I like doing both. Nonetheless, my goal for 2019 is to self-direct another music video for myself and possibly for other people.

BL: What instruments do you play?

UMI: I play the piano, guitar, and ukulele. I really wanna learn bass though!

BL: What is your favorite part about being a musician?

UMI: To me, being a musician is the most fulfilling passion in the entire world. Making music enhances my self-awareness because it allows me to better understand my own feelings and express those emotions/thoughts to those around me in a very authentic way. I also feel so connected to people when I make music because I can shift peoples moods, feelings, thoughts through my songs. It’s powerful!

More than anything I just feel like this is what I’m meant to do with my life, so being able to live out my dream is the greatest gift I could ever ask for~

BL: How do you come up with new songs?

UMI: To me, it really comes down to the beats I’m writing to. If I feel really connected to the energy of a track, coming up with a concept and writing the words come really easily. But when I’m stuck, I have a list of ideas/concepts/words in my notes that I like to look to.

BL: What advice would you give to young girls starting out?

UMI: To stay persistent in the music you release! The internet is so saturated right now, so to stand out you really have to make an effort to consistently release your work. I also think growing your social media presence to enhance your music and expand your reach is really powerful! Also, the music industry is still dominated by men (especially the producer world), and as a woman, at times it can be hard to advocate for yourself when you’re the only female in the room. But I encourage young girls (anyone really) to speak up for yourself and express the way you want your art to be created and handled. Especially in sessions! Don’t be afraid to tell the producer you don’t like a beat or the way a certain drum sounds or the way they cut your vocals. You know your music best!

BL: How do you deal with online bullying?

UMI: I luckily haven’t had to deal with online bullying. I get my share of negative comments, but nothing beyond that.

However, to anyone going through online bullying, I would say know you’re not alone! Reach out to people if you’re having a hard time navigating your situation, block and distance yourself from people who are harassing you, and report.

BL: What do you think makes a good friend?

UMI: I think compassion and selflessness are attributes of great friends, and this all contributes to the energy you project to those around you. To me, friendship isn’t necessarily measured by the number of times you hang out or text/call each other, but by how willing someone is to be there for you when you need it and how much they are down to support your passions. I know I have the greatest friends in the world! They’ve sacrificed their time to be in my music videos, come to my shows, buy my merchandise, drive me places when I didn’t have a car. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my friends!

I also think friendship is an energy exchange so it’s important to be conscious of the type of people you surround yourself with. Good friendships = good energy!

BL: What is your favorite thing to do with friends?

UMI: Anything really! Eating, making music, traveling, talking, singing, eating.

BL: Is there anything you are excited about in the near future?

UMI: I’m excited about all the new music I’m going to be releasing this year! Also for touring! I can’t wait to see the world.

BL: What is next for you in your career?

UMI: More music, more projects, more shows, more collaborations, more tours, more festivals!! Infinite abundance!

BL: If you could tell your 13-year-old self one thing, what would you say?

UMI: Trust your intuition! Let it guide you. You know what you’re doing and everything will work out! Also, you’re not as ugly as you think you are, stop eating meat and dairy, being popular in high school is not important, and be nicer to your mom.

BL: What are some things you are currently into?

UMI: I’ve been getting super into audiobooks and podcasts (my favorite book so far is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle or the Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein) and vegan baking. I’m also starting to get into astrology and taro. Oh, and I’ve been getting back into weight lifting at the gym!

BL: Top 5 things you can’t live without?

1. My journal
2. Vegetables
3. My laptop to make and listen to music
4. My voice memos on my phone
5. My earphones

BL: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

UMI: To travel anywhere in the world! Or to eat dairy.

BL: Celebrity crush?