Umi is the Indie Pop Artist You Always Wanted

We all would like to think of the music artists we listen to as our “friends” in a distorted sort of way. That is what I like about supporting smaller, indie artists; you feel like your support and your streams more directly impact the life of the musician. But no matter how mainstream the artist, it is up to the musician to make their audience feel a part of a community, a community that gathers to support the budding career of this one person. 

Before stumbling upon the Seattle-born indie pop artist, Umi, I had never been invited into a creator's community that felt so raw and naturally welcoming. I was not expecting too much when I joined her Zoom concert sponsored by the AU Student Union Board on February 4th. However, I was pleasantly surprised when my screen displayed Umi and her “soul sister” / guitarist, Mia sitting on the floor of her cozy LA apartment. Sat in front of her kitchen, surrounded by potted plants, and wearing her signature bohemian-esque attire, the duo began by chatting to the audience like we were old friends. 

Umi opened her set with a guided meditation, including deep breathing, sounds from a Himalayan singing bowl, and gentle affirmations from her dulcet voice. This introduction set the tone for the rest of the concert and relaxed me into a state of utter obsession with the 22 year old music maven. 

She began the track list with Introspection, which is a relaxed acoustic melody with lovely, light r&b riffs. She threw in a few covers throughout the program with, Put Your Records On, bringing a brighter, more upbeat tone and Thinking Bout You, which was a slowed down acoustic of Frank Ocean’s original work. My favorite piece was Suki Dakara, meaning “because I love you” in Japanese. It was a romantic bedroom pop concoction with dreamy Japanese text, perfect for any lingering Valentine’s Day energy. Finally, she closed the set with the song that brought her to SoundCloud fame, Remember Me. The relaxed acoustic version she played for us is now available on all streaming platforms. 2.

Umi has been very open about how her upbringing as a half-Black half-Japanese woman has impacted her music. Growing up with two distinct influences on her taste as a child, she discussed how her current style is inspired by many artists that remind her of her upbringing. Who’s on Umi’s current playlist, you may ask? Matsuda Seiko, Frank Ocean, Sza, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill. 3.

In addition, she mentioned that growing up in the Pacific Northwest under constant rainfall made her look inward. The dark atmosphere impacted her mood and forced her to channel her feelings into creative expression which turned into music. 

What final things did I learn about my new friend, Umi? She is an Aquarius sun, Sagittarius moon, and Cancer rising. In 2021, she wants to go on tour, release her album by the end of the year, and go on a solo trip around the world. She is gracious, quirky, grounded, and the kind of girl you would meet in a coffee shop and fall in love with immediately. And in this month of celebrating Black history and artistry, I hope you can find the time to fall in love with her too. 

Neon music for the people sign Photo by Steve Harvey from Unsplash

Sources: 1, 23, 4 

Photos: Her Campus Media