Eritrean-born and Amsterdam-raised RIMON has earned her flowers. Since her 2018 debut EP, BBYGIRL FOCU$, the singer has blossomed into a potent songwriter and vocalist, releasing 2020’s I Shine, U Shine to much fanfare. RIMON’s silky vocal textures and attractive timbre make her an easy bet as the world of soothing R&B coming out of Europe (see also: Gaidaa).
RIMON’s breezy deliveries and enveloping melodies are irresistible. Influenced by the greats—Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu—RIMON follows a lineage of powerful women penning achy and triumphant tunes for their generation. But make no mistake, RIMON is her own universe.
RIMON’s intent is to empower the listener. After dropping out of school at 17 to follow her dreams, it’s no surprise there’s a positive sonic and lyrical resolution in every single one of her songs. RIMON’s life changed when she read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist in Ethiopia, and she brings that same energy to her work, with I Shine, U Shine’s titular track as one of many examples of her propulsive spirit.
“The path of going to school, work, family—that was terrifying to me,” RIMON says. “Dropping out of school was not scary at all, because I just didn’t want to conform to a certain lifestyle that wasn’t serving me.” Forever a risk-taker, RIMON and her music exist to inspire the world.
I read you really started pursuing music at 17, but you loved it your whole life. What set you on the path of a music career?
If you’re young, you’re looking for meaning in your life. There’s all this pressure from society to finish school, and I knew from a young age the academic route wasn’t for me. I was smart and got good grades, but I just knew it wasn’t very much fulfilling. I dropped out of school when I was 17 and decided to travel and experience life. I went to Miami, Ethiopia. All those experiences made me realize there’s so much more in the world. That’s when I started to question what I want to do in this life.
One of the key things was reading the book The Alchemist in Ethiopia. Ever since that book, my entire mindset changed. I can do whatever I want! Ever since a kid, I wanted to do music, but I was a bit insecure. I thought I could never make it, but that book changed my perspective on life in general.
I’ve read every book by Coelho and had a very similar experience.
The way he describes the story in [The Alchemist] changed everything in me. The whole concept of the Law of Attraction and stuff like that was so new to me, and it was actually real. I can envision everything I want and go after it. That was one of the most important moments for me to really pursue music.
Was there any fear in dropping out for music?
No, it wasn’t scary at all. The path of going to school, work, family—that was terrifying to me. Dropping out of school was not scary at all, because I just didn’t want to conform to a certain lifestyle that wasn’t serving me. I remember my family would look at me like I was crazy, like, “What are you doing?” But I felt this strong feeling, from a young age, that I needed to take risks in life. Those risks got me to crazy opportunities in life.
I hear you. I almost dropped out of college to write.
There’s a different path for everyone. I have two little sisters, and I would never tell them to drop out. It’s not for everyone. In that time of my life, I needed to take that risk. I just felt like that was the right timing for me, but if I look at my little sisters, I would never advise them to do that.
Education is a good thing, and even now… I don’t regret dropping out, but I question myself. I could’ve gone to Uni and learned all these dope things and put that in my music. To this day, I still ask myself those questions and am considering going to school again.
Based on your influences, you follow a line of incredible women, from Badu to Hill. How do you see yourself continuing their musical lineage?
I see them as people I look up to and admire, but I see them independently of me. I am influenced by them, 100 percent, but I don’t see myself continuing a lineage. They all have their universe, and I am trying to create my own universe within this music space. Badu had a huge impact on me and will continue to inspire me, but I think my work and music will come to fruition and success if I just focus on my own thing.
I Shine, U Shine has such a soothing touch. Is your goal to calm the listener with your words and melodies?
I’ve never thought of that, to be honest. The intention of my music is to express myself, first. Second, what I’ve noticed in my songs so far is a lot of them have a positive ending. A more empowering ending. There’s always an empowering message, but the calmness? I hear it a lot. It was never my intention, though.
Has it hit you that you’re a person of note—famous, even?
As a kid, I thought I wanted to be famous and well-known. The biggest pop star. That was my dream. But now, as I’m in the industry and releasing music, I notice that it gives me anxiety sometimes. I don’t necessarily wanna be famous, but I do want to reach an audience with the art and the music, and that does come with being famous, I guess.
Today, I was at a market, and I noticed some people looking longer than five seconds. That’s when I understood they might know me. A small panic attack enters my body. Those are the small parts of—I don’t wanna call it fame, but being known. I still have to get used to that, I guess. I’m more of an introvert. Those changes in my life have been difficult to adapt to.