Jamaican born and Cleveland raised, Rickolette “RIKI” Simmonds is an emerging young vocalist signed to Gee Street Records. Her new single “Venting,” releasing Sept 22, is a self-reflective ballad about human perception and misperception spiced with an edgy, hard-hitting patois chat. The single is off of Salience – a debut 12-track project taking the kinds of creative risks that few pop or alternative artists are willing to take. The 22-year-old self-declared ‘soul rebel’ also loves to paint, and was a champion of her school athletics’ team. Proving herself as not only multi-talented but competitive and driven, RIKI is moving into the realms of tastemaker talent and setting herself up to be a household name.
What first sparked your interest in music?
I’ve always liked music like a lot of people. I’ve into it from childhood. You know, music is something that helps get us through hard times. What first sparked my interest in making music and being an artist is meeting other artists and friends and being influenced by relationships I have been in. It showed me I had that creative side in me as well.
You’re a young emerging artist with a uniquely alternative sound. How would you describe your music?
I would describe my sound as a fusion or a hybrid. I would say I’m ‘alternative.’ And for my project Salience, I’d describe it as an ‘alternative sound.’
What are you trying to get across with your new single “Venting.”
It’s exactly what the title says. It’s me expressing myself in a very freestyle way. I’m trying to get across attitude. It’s another side, a more edgy side, maybe more of my Jamaican side, that comes across on “Venting.”
Tell us about your forthcoming solo project Salience, and what that speaks to.
Salience is for the person in their teens going into their 20’s that’s just figuring life out – whether it’s first relationships, experimenting with drugs, facing different adversities – it’s that trial and error period. It speaks to that person who is experiencing something in their lives and needs a viby way to get through it.
What is one of the key elements in your creative process?
The key element in my creative process is experience. Maybe I get tougher or maybe I soften down a bit, but it’s always about experience. It’s always about what I’ve been through personally. I have to live it to understand it. You can make music that’s so abstract, that says so many things, and then have cohesive production to present it. It’s similar with life.
You were born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to Cleveland, Ohio at a young age. How did both cultures coalesce for you?
For myself, both cultures have actually just helped me be who I want to be as an artist. When I’m speaking in patois, my body language is different. The attitude is sassy and there’s more aggression coming from me. When I’m speaking in my American accent, it makes me smoother but still with an edge.
You’re an avid painter as well. How does that help balance your meditation?
I feel as if art is a process. And painting for me is a lot about patience. That’s a key element in my creative process too, patience. I paint to see where my rhythm is, whether I need to speed it up or slow it down. Painting is like this hidden album cover for a song.
Where would you like to spend the rest of your life if you could?
If I don’t find a total safe haven in Jamaica with a beach, a cool community of people and just chill vibes, then somewhere on an island. I’d like to spend the rest of my life where everything is what it is, natural – the trees, the ground beneath your feet, the water. Just someplace where I can make music peacefully and maybe have some horses running around me. Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey