Who is UMI?

UMI is a singer-songwriter from Seattle, Washington. Born Tierra Umi Wilson, she’s based in Los Angeles and is a student from the University of Southern California. While still young, she has already released 2 EP’s and quite a few singles, including the visual album “Love Language” (2019) and her most recent single, “Picture Perfect” (2020).

Photo credit Allegra Messina for Cools (for all photos used)

UMI grew up within a musical family. Her mother is a pianist, her father is a drummer, and her aunt is a Blues musician. She is also biracial, as she is half-Black and half-Japanese. She began writing music when she was 4 or 5 years old, keeping her writings in a journal. As noted in multiple interviews, including one with Cools.com, she started uploading covers onto Youtube, eventually switching to Soundcloud; this is was attempt to manage her in nerving stage fright. When copyright issues arose, she began posting her own music onto other platforms, including Apple Music and Spotify.

Her musical style is a combination of multiple genres, otherwise known as “genre blending”. Containing elements of hip-hop, soul, and R&B, UMI’s music doesn’t fall under one single demographic. This matches up perfectly with the personal aspects of her fluidity, as her middle name (which she uses as her stage name) translates to Ocean in Japanese.

“Her music—an amalgamation of lo-fi beats, intense soul, and poignantly simple lyricism—radiates a quiet and compelling peace, not unlike that found in breaking ocean waves. And being half-Black and half-Japanese, UMI has rooted her identity in fluidity. It should come as no surprise, then, that breaking barriers in music seems to come naturally for her.”

Eda Yu, Complex.com

Some of her musical inspirations include Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, SZA, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill. Umi credits Frank Ocean for introducing and making her fall in love with rap music, while she credits SZA and Erykah Badu for the way they discuss the female experience in their music, especially as black women.

She also comes with a very clear political stance, noting her support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights, and the environment. She notes that she wishes to be an environmentally conscious artist, including selling environmentally conscious merchandise, and even touring in such a way by only using low-emission buses.

Her discography can be found on Spotify and Apple Music.

A review of her EP “Love Language” can be found here: https://vocal.media/beat/an-in-depth-look-at-the-love-language-ep-by-umi

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