The complexities of ‘new soul’ artist, Riki run deep, but the Jamaican-born songstress’ underlying message is simple: Love.
Coming from Kingston, Jamaica, Riki, born Rickolette Simmonds, has always had the spirit of an artist within. “Jamaica is a very artful place…you see people making stuff,” she recalls, “Everything is painted, the shops are all painted…As a Jamaican it’s a part of the culture to be artsy, whether you’re conscious of it or not.”
It was not until moving to Cleveland, Ohio and attending high school there that the vocalist began to really come into who she was. She was able to ditch her uniform, and was free to find her own sense of style daily. Even the simple act of changing her name was an important phase of her future career as a singer/songwriter. She describes her name-change as something that was intuitively done: “I’ve always been a tomboy and always wanted a boyish name because I felt like that fit me more. So, in high school and on Instagram I was like, ‘Yup. I’m making my name Riki,’ and everybody just started calling me Riki after that.”
That same intuitive nature and self-reflectance can be found in her music. After high school, Riki wrote her very first song (“It just kind of happened”), and hasn’t been able to stop since. “I kind of hear words when I hear music, but now I’m writing poetry more,” she states.
Riki and her producer, Londoner, Troy Baker spend every minute they can creating music. “Yeah. Everyday. We go back to the hotel and just make music,” the singer admits, to which Baker adds, “We kind of clicked. We’ve been working together for about a year, and she came to me with a dope body of music that I really didn’t need to touch. I just kind of mixed and mastered, and then she came to me and was like, ‘I’m going to write some new stuff.’” Together, not only do they create a different sound, but make sure that it is always authentic.
As for her sound—it has been described as many things, intriguing and emotive to name a few. Another appropriate word for Riki’s music would be transcendent as it moves across all genres, complementing its deep-rooted R&B sounds and Jamaican edge. She has even been compared to vocalist/artist, Erykah Badu due to the intonation of her voice.
Lyrically, she talks about love and the “bittersweet romance” with her Jamaican origins, as well as making marijuana a legal substance. In her single, “Venting,” Riki provides us with an introspective R&B ballad with “hard-hitting” patois.
She describes this song and the rest of her music as a “hybrid” or “fusion,” and being heavily influenced by Bob Marley and Sade. She divulges that the way her music sounds is greatly impacted by her surroundings, the people she is with, and her mood: “I change like every month, or every week. Like, I’m in New York now, and I’m in Jamaica again next week wearing a whole new type of vibe. And everybody is just like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I just evolve. Everywhere I go I’m like a sponge. I’m just open to the opportunities of what I should be inspired by…Sometimes I just say I’m a life artist.”
It is clear that Riki has a breezy-island vibe, but she has an unapologetic and bold edge. She even coined the term, “soul-rebel,” to describe herself. “When I first started, I literally listened to Sade the first three weeks before I made my first song,” she explains, “and I was very into soul music. I feel like Sade is so—I just vibed to that. But I knew what I was saying wasn’t on Sade’s level. [Laughs]. And I thought that that was just it. It was a little rebellious.”
Looking to the future, Riki is putting out her upcoming album, Salience, which contains her classic “new soul” sound, but speaks on experiences she had when she was younger, adding a “trippy” element to it. “It’s something that you have to hear,” the singer declares, “I’m listening to it now I’m like, ‘Yo! I didn’t realize what I was doing when I was doing it.”
She also has a new track entitled, “Waterfalls,” and song with an “island edge,” on her Soundcloud.
Riki is creating a sound that is all her own and is blazing her own trial, both in America and the international market. Her intriguing nature and compelling vocals tell us that her success will continue. But at the end of the day, Riki has an ultimate dream: “My goal is just to be me and to be happy, and be happy with what I’m doing. My biggest push on anything I do is love—push love and to speak on that positivity. I want to get to a place where I can give back.” She jokingly adds, “All I want to do is do shows, travel shows, and go to art museums. [Laughs]. That’s just the dream. It’s really simple.”
Be sure to follow Riki across all platforms, as well as producer, Troy Baker. All information is listed below!