If you’re a fan of R&B, it’s hard not to fall in love with UMI. Hailing from Seattle, the singer-songwriter is best known for her breakout single “Remember Me,” which currently boasts over 147 million streams on Spotify alone.
In describing herself, UMI states she’s “a multi-dimensional artist and healer. I make music for the soul and I live in a soulful way to inspire others.”
At only 24 hours old, UMI has pioneered her own unique sound straddling the lines of R&B and folk. Her name means “ocean” in Japanese, the perfect reflection of UMI’s artistry and love for nature. Her energy and everything UMI stands for is deeply rooted in promoting mental health and wellness, also naturally pushing representation as a black, queer woman in the space.
Sheen had the pleasure of chatting with UMI at her recent meditation event at In Sheep’s Clothing in Los Angeles, which was warmly welcomed with a full house jampacked with UMI fans.
What’re you most excited for tonight? There’s a ton of people here for you.
I’m excited to share. Share my heart, share music. Share the power of sound.
How long do you usually meditate for an hour?
These days, I’ve been doing it for an hour.
First thing when you wake up?
I’ll probably brush my teeth, make my bed, pretty much first thing.
What’s your vibe? Do you light incense?
I like my incense, I make my bed. Open the window, brush my teeth, wash my face, and then meditate.
What was the progression? Where’d you start?
I started at 5 minutes. I do 5 minutes sometimes too. These days, I do an hour. But a month ago, I was doing 10 to 15. It depends on what I need. These days, I need the hour. But when I’m on tour or something, it’s what I can get in. Like 5 minutes, started there. Honestly, I was so bad at meditating at first. I could not sit down.
That’s how I feel! What do you recommend for someone who’s really struggling?
Two things. #1, the point of meditation is to practice being able to focus your mind. It’s not that you’re not good at meditating, you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing. You’re just now becoming aware of it. That’d be my first tip, to not get discouraged. My second tip would be trying breathwork, which is what I’ll be teaching today. Really a lot of meditations, they’ll jump right into now and zen out and having no thoughts.
But how I meditate is step by step first, do the breath work so I can get my brain to slow down. Then I’ll do something with sound so I can distract myself into a different place, and then I’ll do a deep meditation. It’s important to let it be a step by step process. Try breathwork, because it’s really helpful for the modern mind and the moving
I heard you’re going to perform an unreleased song today?
Mmhmm, I’m so excited. It’s gonna be so good. It’s called “why don’t we go?” It’s the next single off my EP that comes out in January,
What’s it called?
The EP’s called Talking To The Wind. It’s about living life like the wind. Realizing that all the answers that I seek, it’s not like Google and I can type in “how do I be happy?” Or “how do I figure out what I’m doing with my life?” Life gives you answers, just one step at a time. So living more like the wind freely brings you more peace. Each song on the project has different areas that I’ve learned to let go. “why don’t we go” is about doing things with people, adventures with people. The song’s all about why wait till next year? Why wait till next month to do that spontaneous adventure? Why don’t we go tomorrow? That’s the energy of the song.
What energy was it when you were doing “Happy I’m”?
Thank you for listening, “Happy I’m” is about love. The song’s about me realizing that I was overthinking good things. Every time something really happy would happen, I’d be like why? Or what’s the next thing? Just not being in the moment. When I wrote that song, I don’t want to think too much about happy things. I just want to let myself be in love and not have to know where it’s going. Just be here now. It’s a reminder, a mantra to me . Every time I put it on,oh shit. Let me stop thinking about the future. I don’t know the future.
Is bae here tonight?
She is. [points to girlfriend] We made the song together too. Wrote it together. It was almost a song I wrote for you and you made for me. This exchange.
Anything you’re excited for?
I’m doing a sound bath experience next month in November. Starting next year, I’m going to be doing a residency. I’m going to be doing sound baths every month. I mix my UMI music with my sound bowls, it’s a really new experience.