Its about time that everyone sets their sights on rising Japanese-African-American artist UMI, who recently debuted her new visual EP Love Language. A new signee to J.J. Abrams’ Loud Robot, her sonic world is one decorated by cinematic delights.
UMI will cast a spell on you with her enchanting vocals, spinning neo-soul gold that drenches every second of her dazzling new EP.
UMI has revealed Love Language over the past month, tallying more than 6 million combined streams since release. These numbers alone show just how hungry people are to dig into UMI’s unique sound.
UMI, born Tierra Umi Wilson, is a 20-year-old songwriter, vocalist and producer raised in Seattle and now based in Los Angeles. Love Language has been heavily influenced by UMI’s upbringing as a mixed-race girl in America. Always feeling out of place, she turned to music from Sade, Erykah Badu, Seiko Matsuda and Crystal Kay to help her find her place in the world.
Through this she crafted a spell-binding sound which is sure to leave a distinctly genuine mark upon the planet.
“I never felt Black enough or Japanese enough,” says UMI. “It’s a sentiment I feel like a lot of kids grow up feeling. But as I’ve grown older I’ve realised that being mixed means I can define my identity on my own terms.”
What makes this EP even more exciting is its visual accompaniment, a four-part series in which UMI plays an anime character having to hide her identity as she navigates through the world. Through this, UMI explores feelings of disconnection, isolation and her sense of self which was never rigid and constructed, but more fluid in nature.
“I didn’t know where I fit in. Like UMI in the film, when you strip away the exterior you realise that I’m a manifestation of my mixed identity.”
The EP explores race and intersectionality through UMI’s lens of working as a mixed-race woman in the music industry with these ideas emphasised further through a visual medium. However, the EP also delves into the world of love and its multi-faceted nature.
Speaking about the premise of the album UMI said:
“I aspire to create a space where all people feel heard and loved. The EP itself is about the multidimensionality of love. The different forms love can take. Love can be bubbly, new and a bit confusing like in Love Affair. It can come from a place of yearning and innocence like in Sukidakara. Love can be hard to balance and hard to communicate like in Runnin; or it can be introspective and healing like in Breathe.
All of these emotions I’ve felt and this EP are like my diary of thought. Each song is different in its sound because I’ve been influenced by so many genres of music, from different cultures, but they’re tied together through the theme of love.”
UMI wrote and produced the EP in Los Angeles and worked with a team including screenwriter Taofik Kolade and director Will Kindrick to write, cast, animate and direct the EP’s four parts. UMI has signed with Loud Robot, a new music label from J.J. Abrams, for the release of Love Language.
Love Language is out now via Loud Robot / Caroline Australia.