amindi
[Photo via: Christian Smiley]

At the beginning of lockdown, singer-songwriter Amindi shaved her head.

“I wasn’t filling myself because I was filling this guy,” she shares thoughtfully over Zoom. The alternative R&B (or “pastel rap” artist, depending on who you ask) is sat in front of a rainbow-shaped and colored shelf, creating a halo of green, violet and blue around her head—and emphasizing the tidy buzz cut ornamenting her face. 

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“My frequency was lowered because I was always trying to meet them and always trying to make them feel better instead of pouring into myself,” she continues. “That was the first step towards the end of the relationship,” she mentions while reflecting on cutting her hair. The end of that two-year relationship also marked the beginning of a deeper relationship with herself. “I feel like my outsides are matching my insides, and I feel like me. I feel like the most me I’ve ever been.”

That sense of self-reverence is prevalent in the collection of eight songs. “There’s going to be no romantic themes in this—that’s dead right now,” she shares. Coincidentally, a different kind of romance seems to have snuck its way in. As the lyricist counters her self-doubt in the opening track “u got next,” looks in the mirror and tells herself, “Damn, she fine” in “haircut” and decides to “fuck a fake mood” and embrace her emotions instead in “great again,” it looks like Amindi is falling in love with herself.

Here, she discusses her debut EP, nice, making music that feels like her and how she wants to be an example of not boxing yourself in.

How are you feeling about sharing nice with the world?

I’m super excited because I feel like it’s been a minute since I released something that feels like me. I feel like I took a lot of time to figure out how I want to portray myself or what kind of music I want to put out. I’m really happy with it. I’m super excited for people to hear it. 

What is it about the EP that feels more authentic to who you are and the music you want to put out?

My biggest [song] is “Pine & Ginger.” So I was living in fear of being boxed in as a dance-hall, genre fusion artist when I was just doing something I enjoy doing. I like a bunch of genres. I like being able to dabble in a lot of different stuff. I felt like I was being boxed in, which scared me and made me [be] like, “Wait, no, actually I’m a bunch of different stuff!”

So, I just took time to home in on myself and figure out what kind of music I’d like to put out. Eventually, I plan on putting out more music like “Pine & Ginger.” I just would like to show other parts of myself before I become boxed in. The EP just feels true to me. I’ve always been very into rap and hip-hop, so it’s more influenced by that than my familial heritage. 

Speaking of your Jamaican heritage, what are some of the not-so-obvious ways your background has made its way into your sound and how you create music?

I feel like Jamaican MCs and “Femme-Cs” are super lyrical. They’ll say some wild shit. Like Vybz Kartel is known for making really wild puns. I think that paired with just my innate love for reading and the English language, me being an artist that writes song lyrics first and makes sure the lyrics are fire before I even try to move forward with figuring out a melody. I like to figure out what I’m trying to say first. I think that’s the most important part, figuring out what’s being said.

amindi
[Photo via: Christian Smiley]
You’ve been referred to as “genre-bending,” which can be kind of a catch-all. If you could describe your sound yourself, what would you call it?

Since my SoundCloud days, I’ve called what I did “pastel rap” because it’s prettier lyric-based music. But when strangers come up to me and are like, “What kind of music do you make?” I always say alternative R&B. I feel like I’m insulting R&B by saying I’m an R&B artist sometimes because R&B music is so musical and pretty and melodic. I think I come up with good melodies. I just don’t think I be coming up with R&B melodies. But I sing and I’m Black, so it’s like “alternative R&B,” you know what I mean? But “pastel rap” is what I call it. 

You’ve shared that you want to show young Black girls that there is no box they have to fit into. How do you show up as an example for young Black women?

I think [by] just being my authentic self. Accepting myself has helped me show up as that no matter what. I’ve never been ashamed of any alternative facets of myself, you know? Because of that, people have gravitated towards that. I love Vampire Weekend or Two Door Cinema Club, but I also love [Top Dawg Entertainment] and every artist on TDE.

Music, in general, is so universal, and I love so much of it, and because I’m a Libra and have problems deciding what to do, I’m like, “Why don’t I just do all of it?” A main driving force for that is because when I was younger, I was inspired by Santigold. I want to be somebody’s Santigold—that’s my main goal. I just want to be myself and do what I like doing and inspire people to do that as well.

amindi
[Photo via: Christian Smiley]
In the opening track “u got next,” who is the person offering advice in the story, and who are they offering it to? Is it you singing to you? 

Yeah, it is. I don’t know why I like talking to myself in the second person, but it’s a better self, a higher self talking to a past self, or maybe a current self. Future me is like, “You could do it.” I needed someone to tell me that. There have been so many times where I think I’m just going to quit music and become a teacher, or I think I’m just going to drop this off. It just got really frustrating.

I was like, “This isn’t worth it anymore.” I used to do this for fun. I used to just upload and not give a fuck about numbers or perception of self. I was just being myself, and I didn’t have to worry too much about it. Also, I think I was just repeating what I had heard people say to me, like, “It’s OK to have your doubts, but trust me, you’re talented.” 

In “haircut,” you sing about taking yourself out on a date. Have you always had that level of self-adoration?

This is a new thing. This is brand spanking new. I just got it in quarantine, just picked it up.

You can read the whole interview with Amindi in AltPress issue 395, available here