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Interview: 2020 Must-Know - REI AMI

Interview: 2020 Must-Know - REI AMI

"I am not your queen, I’m your dictator / Bend the fucking knee, yeah bitch that was an order," REI AMI forcefully declares in the chorus of 'DICTATOR' - only her third song released as an artist, but one which has already seen over a million listens on Spotify, and established her as a true artist to watch. Halfway through the song, it flips its sound on its head entirely and showcases a slower, more acoustic, R&B sound - she explains that these two juxtapositions are her 'REI' and 'AMI' sides coming through in the music.

The accompanying music video for 'DICTATOR' which just dropped today further showcases this juxtaposition - with the first half in red (representing "power, anger, and revenge") and the second half in blue (representing "sadness, loneliness, and emptiness"). It also opens with her singing from a burning house - the ultimate act of bad-assery.

As she sings in the opening line of 'DICTATOR', "REI about to take over the world," and we wholeheartedly agree.

YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Billie Eilish, Deb Never, Megan Thee Stallion, Halsey, Rina Sawayama, Doja Cat, and... having a 'Sailor Moon' marathon with your closest friends.

COUP DE MAIN: ‘DICTATOR’ is such a powerful song to listen to! I love the lines, “Now he mad, oh he hurt? / Ain’t it sad? That’s too bad!” It’s so sassy. How did it feel writing that song?
REI AMI: It felt super empowering to write a song about little whiny bitch boys. I grew up listening to a lot of strong female artists and I wanted to write my own song that represented independence and power. Be gone, fuckboys!

CDM: It’s cool how the song switches halfway through - were they originally two separate songs that you combined into one? Or were they written together?
REI AMI: ‘DICTATOR’ was originally going to be just the first half. But, knowing me, I obviously changed my mind a few weeks later. My producer and I decided it would be cool to add a transition similar to 'SNOWCONE' and I’m so glad we did!

CDM: What can you tell us about your upcoming project? It’s coming out in 2020?
REI AMI: So my mixtape is coming out in 2020! I’m stoked!!!! I don’t really have a theme for it just yet, but it’s just going to be a project filled with songs that represent who I am. I’m calling it a mixtape so that I have the freedom to do whatever I want with it… I feel like with EPs and albums, people expect some kind of theme/concept and I don’t want to be limited to such expectations for my first full body of work.

CDM: It’s so interesting that some songs of yours you consider just ‘REI’ and some just ‘AMI’ in terms of personality - do you find it important to explore both of those elements in your songs?
REI AMI: Great question. Yes, I feel that it is important to represent both personalities in my songs. Now, not every song will have transitions, some songs will just be REI and others will just be AMI. But I think representing the highs and lows of being a human being is what’s drawn a lot of people to my music. Other artists have done transitions in their music before but I don’t think I've ever heard anything that compares to my music. When my songs transition, I want a reaction from people. That’s why they switch up so fast without any warning - like life. Life hits you with so much bullshit all at once without any warning and that shit sucks. But that’s life. We all go through it. So yeah, I think it’s imperative that I represent that human experience in my songs because it makes you feel heard... it makes you feel like you’re not alone.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
REI AMI: I usually rip random beats off of Youtube and write over it and record a rough demo. Then I send it to my producer and he usually produces a brand new beat over my vocals. I used this process for 'SNOWCONE' and 'DICTATOR'. I prefer this process because it helps me lay out the song the way I envision it and hear it in my head. This really helps with maintaining creative control too. Other times, I’ll just start from scratch with my producer whenever I’m in the studio.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
REI AMI: Not really, whenever I have an idea, I just write it down and come back to it whenever I’m actually writing the song. I like going with the flow and keeping things spontaneous.

CDM: Lyrically, what’s your favourite song that you’ve written?
REI AMI: ‘DICTATOR’ is my favourite so far because it’s so aggressive and in your face-- like me :)

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
REI AMI: The difference between a good song and a great song is the ability to divide people. When people hear a good song, I feel like they have a very mild reaction to it... Like, “Yeah this song is pretty good.” There’s never really a debate about it. But with great songs, there’s ALWAYS a polar reaction. People either LOVE it or they HATE it. There’s always a debate on why it’s good or why it’s bad. For example, people either LOVE or HATE Kanye. There’s no in-between. Whenever Kanye does something, there’s ALWAYS a discussion.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
REI AMI: I think I was around 19 when I wrote my first song. It was about a stupid boy, obviously.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
REI AMI: I want people to know that it’s okay to feel. That it’s okay to go from super happy to super sad because that’s life. You should never have to pick and choose how you feel. Human beings are such complex creatures, why should we have to pick one emotion over the other?

CDM: If R.E.I. A.M.I. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
R - Raging
E - Emotional
I - Impulsive
A - Asian
M- Meow
I - Idk

CDM: What’s on your bucket-list?
REI AMI: A world tour, Hello Kitty Collaboration, and to get adopted by Rihanna.

CDM: You’re one of our ‘must-know’ artist picks for 2020... who are yours?
REI AMI: Chiiild, Ashnikko, Sogumm, and 99 Neighbors.

CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence, what would it be?
REI AMI: I would steal all my favorite Instagram-famous dogs (Coconut Rice Bear, Maple and Morty, Tucker, Mr. Bubz and Kevin the Shiba) for one day and have a massive playdate for my dog, Kyo.

CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
REI AMI: 'Birthday Sex' - Jeremih.

Watch REI AMI's music video for 'Dictator' below...

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