Vocalo Radio

Chicago's Urban Alternative

Current track



UMI Meditates At Lollapalooza 2023

Written by on August 10, 2023

Fresh off the stage at Lollapalooza, formerly Seattle, now LA artist UMI joined Nudia Hernandez backstage at the festival on August 6. The two talked about her solo Lolla debut, meditation, manifestation, friendships and more. 

UMI first took the stage at Lollapalooza last July, performing the track “Play Too Much” alongside Kyle Dion during LA rapper Duckwrth’s set. This year, she returned to the festival – this time with the stage to herself. She noted it was a vision board moment she had been aspiring toward for years, and felt the opportunity was “divine timing.”

“It was very connective. I felt very at one with everyone in the crowd,” UMI said. “To be on that stage … dreams come true.”

Like all her shows, UMI started off her Lollapalooza set with a meditation, reminding concert-goers to breathe and be present. This not only helps ground her, but ideally the crowd as well. She hopes to create an uninterrupted concert experience for her audiences and remind people to live in the now, referring to “back in the days” before phones were prevalent at shows.

“When we didn’t have phones, the one time you got to see an artist was a show, you never knew when you would see them again,” she reflected. “That excitement is what makes a show electric.”

UMI met backstage at Lollapalooza 2023, following her set on the festival’s final evening. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

After each show, UMI hosts sound bath meditations for fans and friends to share healing through soundwaves. Sharing this spiritual aspect of herself with the crowd and releasing any fear of being seen is essential to her performances. She deeply values openness and honesty, exemplified through her mantra, “It’s safe to be seen.”

UMI joined Vocalo afternoons host Nudia Hernandez backstage at Lollapalooza after her set on August 6. The two discussed manifestation, meditation, her arena and Lolla debut, friendships and more. 

UMI also recently performed her first stadium set, opening for Sam Smith in Washington D.C. at the Capital One Arena on August 4, and is currently working on new music. Her new single, “Happy I’m,” is set for release August 11 — the first from her upcoming EP Talking To The Wind, which hopes to reframe the concept of being lost.

Nudia Hernandez: Hey it’s Nudia in the Afternoon, here on Vocalo Radio backstage at Lollapalooza 2023, with the one the only UMI! Hello! 

UMI: Hi!

NH: Oh my gosh, you performed today, like literally not that long ago, you just fresh off stage. How was it?

U: It was so fun! It was very connective. I felt very connected with everyone in the crowd and very at one with everybody, so it was wonderful.

NH: And you’ve been to Lolla a few times as a guest, but this is your first time on the stage to yourself.

U: Yes, I’ve had Lolla on my vision board for years. So to be on that stage, I was like, “Whoa, dreams come true.”

NH: And, coming here, because you’re living in LA now, right? Making the journey from LA to Chicago for Lolla, I feel like it’s kind of epic. When you’re out there with the crowd, what kind of vibes do you like to set? Because I know you’re a very vibey person, so what kind of energy do you like to bring?

U: I like to start my shows off with a meditation. It helps to ground me, and the crowd. I think it reminds people to return to right here and to not live so much in your head. And then throughout the show, I just like to remind people to breathe and to be present. I just think back at back in the days, when we didn’t have phones and stuff, where … the one time you got to see an artist was the show, and then you never knew when you were gonna see them again. I think that excitement is what makes a live show even more electric. I feel when I do that, it makes a huge difference in the show.

NH: And that’s really who you are, because I was watching an interview you did with Apple Music and you start off the interview with a sound bath.

U: Yes! I love that.

NH: So when you were coming back, I was looking. I was like, “Does she have the bowl with her?” I was like, “Are we gonna start off the interview with a sound bath?”

U: Next time I come back, I will have a sound bath! I actually am doing a sound bath tomorrow. 

NH: Really?

U: Yeah! Every time I do a show, I do a sound bath after it, invite different fans over to share healing.

NH: I love that. Oh my gosh, that’s so amazing. And so I mean, it’s such a unique experience, I’m sure, and I love that you share that part of yourself with the crowd. I was gonna say, have you seen this video? This video went viral on Chicago Instagram and TikTok, where, of course, a Chicagon was complaining about Lollapalooza and the traffic. And then they said, “Aren’t you tired of seeing the same people?” They said, “The only person worth seeing this weekend is UMI.”

U: What! Really?

NH: Have you seen it? 

U: I haven’t seen it! That’s so cool. 

NH: I’m gonna DM it to you. 

U: Please do! What an honor. I love Chicago, and now I love it even more.

NH: No, I saw it and I was like, “I wonder if she saw this.” 

U: I did not see that! That is so cool! I’m never gonna forget that. Please send it to me.

NH: Yeah, no, when I saw it, it was going viral. And so I was laughing really hard. I was like, “Well, we’re gonna talk to her tomorrow!”

U: Wow! Whoever made that TikTok, thank you!

NH: So Chicago really does love you.

U: Wow. I love Chicago. I remember last year, when I came on tour in Chicago, I did two nights. I closed my tour off in Chicago, and I just remember crying. I was like, “This is such beautiful people, such loving people, open people that are very unique to the area.” I love the people here.

NH: And you’ve been, I feel like I heard you’ve been making music since you, is this true? Four or five years old? 

U: Yes. I have. 

NH: Oh, my gosh, that’s so young! 

U: Yeah. 

Nudia Hernandez met with UMI on the final day of Lollapalooza to chat about her debut solo performance at the festival, plus a new single out August 11. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

NH: I feel like recently, of course, you’ve been putting out a lot of songs, at a pretty big volume. And I feel like you’ve been pretty open and honest with love and feelings and self-acceptance and things like that. And so, is that your your era, your vibe for right now?

U: Yeah, it is. I think this mantra I’ve been repeating to myself is that it’s safe to be seen. It’s safe to be seen massively. It’s safe to be seen. And I feel like the moment I accepted that, things have just started opening up for me. Because I think I used to fear, in a way, people recognizing me and seeing me, and now that … I don’t hold fear about it anymore, I think it’s just opening up the floodgates.

NH: I love that for you. And speaking of opening up the floodgates, you’re on tour with Sam Smith right now, right?

U: Yeah, I just opened up for them in DC before this. Two days, yesterday? Two days ago? Yeah.

NH: You’re like, “What day is it?”

U: That’s how I feel! It was an arena show, my first arena show. That was just crazy. And the crazy thing is, when I was in Chicago last year, I closed my eyes during the show, and I saw myself performing at an arena. And I was like, “Whoa.” And then I had the show two days ago, and I was like, “Chicago brought me the vision!” And now I’m in Chicago.

NH: It’s just deja-vu! It’s just like the matrix, the glitches in the matrix are coming!

U: It’s glitching and I’m loving it! I’m like, “Keep pushing!”

NH: And so … did you just get a call to come in? Or like was it an email? How do you find out that news?

U: It was a call! And it was out of nowhere. It’s one of those things where I woke up and I didn’t know I was gonna go to sleep knowing that information. I was like like, “Woah! This is crazy!” And so I just put it all together. And that’s why I’m a very firm believer in divine timing, because if that call would have came in a year ago, I don’t think I was mentally or physically prepared to take on that opportunity. But now, just having my team, having this sense of wellness, I’m prepared for the expansion. So I’m just receiving it all in perfect timing, it feels like.

NH: And are you working on more music right now?

U: I am! I have a single dropping on Friday. It’s called “Happy I’m.” It’s the first single off my EP that I’m dropping this fall. And the EP is just like, it’s called ‘Talking To The Wind,’ and it’s all about reframing the concept of being lost. “How can you be lost if you’re always guided?” has has been my mantra, my message of the EP.

NH: So we can expect it this fall? 

U: Yes, you can expect it this fall! And you can expect a single on Friday called “Happy I’m,” and it’s about me and my love, and we actually made the song together.

NH: I love it. And you’ve been very open about that, and also fluidity with love and sexuality and things like that. And you’ve been so open in interviews, was that hard for you? Or you just knew you were always going to be open about that part of your life?

U: I don’t think it’s ever been too hard for me. I think the only time it’s hard is if it’s hard for me to open up to myself. So once I started being honest with myself, it’s pretty easy to be honest with others, in a way. Because I feel like if someone’s asking me a question, I’m like, I want to answer truthfully, maybe there’s something someone supposed to take away from it. So I try not to hold back what I feel when I speak.

NH: I love that. So one last question, I know you gotta go. But I saw this beautiful video, it really made my day when I saw it. I think it was with Red Bull, where it was you and a bunch of your group of friends. And literally, we just followed you for the day and hung out. And it was like the coolest group of people, just the best vibes. You could feel the energy in the video. So for people, especially in a big city like Chicago, sometimes it can get lonely, or if you don’t find your people. What would be — and you kind of described in the video how you found each of those people and brought them together. What would be your advice to people on finding friends and those connections?

U: I think, for me, I started off by writing down what types of friends I wanted to have. I feel like if you go into making friendships with an intention, without even meaning to, the people come to you. And when I stopped purposely going out of my way to go somewhere, or doing things, forcing myself to do things, and I would just go to places I enjoyed, do things I enjoyed, said things that I enjoyed, all the right people came to me. And it took me time, too. I spent maybe two years in LA just by myself, not really having friends, but I think I needed that time to get comfortable with myself. So I think it comes in phases, like it all just kind of checks in time. I would say intention, though. That’s the biggest thing. Write down the type of friends you want to have, how you want to meet them, what do you want to do together, and just daydream about it. And then, before you know it, it’s gonna happen.

NH: I love that. And thank you so much, UMI, for chatting with us again. We’re backstage here at Lollapalooza 2023! 

U: Thank you everyone! Love you, Chicago. Hey, it’s UMI and you’re listening to Vocalo Radio. Just want to say, thank you for being you. Love you!

Keep up with UMI on Instagram, and listen to her music on Spotify below.

Interview conducted by Nudia Hernandez

Audio production by Morgan Ciocca

Audio editing by Nudia Hernandez and Morgan Ciocca

Video editing and production by Omi Salisbury

Photography by Morgan Ciocca

Written introduction by Imani Warren and Morgan Ciocca

Transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

More from Vocalo: