Rema’s fans can’t keep calm

Ahead of his three-city ‘Rema Calm Down India Tour’, the 23-year-old Afropop sensation reveals why feeding his family was more important than pursuing his music 

May 10, 2023 06:32 pm | Updated May 11, 2023 06:03 pm IST

Rema, the new age Afropop sensation

Rema, the new age Afropop sensation | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

If fan frenzy is any indication, Divine Ikubor aka Rema can count on Indians as his most ardent supporters/followers. The visibly overwhelmed ‘Calm Down’ singer was spotted recording the hysteria on his arrival in Mumbai on Tuesday. It was soon posted on Instagram.

Rema received wide recognition for his 2019 song ‘Dumebi’ but it was ‘Calm Down’, a single that he later brought out as a remix version with Selena Gomes that took the world by storm. 

The unprecedented fame did not come easy for the 23-year-old rapper. With his childhood moorings in the church choir in his hometown of Benin City, Nigeria, he also learnt to rap.  At the age of 15, he was not just looking to nurture his musical aspirations but also fending for his family post his father’s demise. He had to go to Ghana in pursuit of work and also to keep his music passion alive. Back in Benin City, he uploaded the music that got him to sign a record deal with Jonzing World in 2019, followed by his debut EP Rema

On a three-city India tour, Rema will perform in Delhi (May 12),  Mumbai (May 13) and Hyderabad (May 14). He tells MetroPlus that he has been waiting for this tour for a long time and is as excited as his fans.

Rema, in one of his electrifying stage shows

Rema, in one of his electrifying stage shows | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

How excited are you about the ‘Rema Calm Down India Tour’?

You know, after my team told me about the India tour I was like ‘Are we really doing this?’ I was happy and started preparing for this for the longest time. I have high expectations because India showed me so much love and support and it’s been growing. It meant a lot to me. I felt it was time to be here. I hope people will come out for me. I want to give them as much love as they gave me.

When Calm Down was conceptualised, did you expect this kind of success ?

To be honest, whenever I make any music, it’s for the whole world to listen to; maybe not immediately, but in the future. I believe that every song is meant to do what it is supposed to do and I feel like this is the perfect time for ‘Calm Down’.  Imagine I dropped this single in 2019, I don’t know how it would’ve done then. I just felt like dropping it now and this was just the perfect timing.

Share your experience of collaborating with Selena Gomez for the remix version.

Selena is amazing. While working on this song, we got on a video call before meeting each other. She came to my show and it was a healthy and beautiful relationship. Working on the song was easy and simple. She was communicative and liked the idea of this song, I wanted to make sure that she complemented my voice. Her voice is just perfect and she is a beautiful soul, so much into music.

How did your early singing opportunities in the church shape you as a musician?

Singing in a church prepared me for my singing career in terms of my stage performance. I had an idea of what it’s like to perform in front of thousands of people. The confidence of artistry, the importance of branding, the looks and outfits and all of that. I also learnt about leadership; knowing that I have a team and being aware of how to communicate and get everybody on their feet to achieve my ambition.

Do you have any influences or inspirations from within your hometown and the country?

To be honest,  I listen to everything, from all parts of the world. I never go into the studio trying to think of what elements I want to take from someone or a culture. I just create. I am a music lover; like every other person, be it musical, or non-musical, I love to create as wide and as wild as possible. I never really think of trying to take anything from anywhere.

Any plans to collaborate with Indian musicians?

Yes, absolutely, I look forward to collaborating with Badshah and A.R Rahman. These are my two favorites right now, I would love to explore something with Indian music and musicians!

After achieving success early on, what motivates you to continue the work?

The way to keep my motivation is just to keep the family close because they kept my spirit high before the rest of the world gave me attention. I have to keep them fed, happy, inspired and motivated. Seeing them achieve whatever they want is what would keep me going.  My family also includes my fans and my team. I’m about to create a new whole family in India. So you all keep me motivated for the time to come.

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