In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the global sensation talks about his fearless love for music, his favourite Indian city, and why he doesn’t bother to stay on top despite his massive success...
Now if you can make the former president of the United States of America dance to your tune— Barack Obama, if you are asking —then there’s nothing you cannot do.
Rema is all of 20 but his chartbusting EPs, such as Dumebi and Calm Down, have amassed mindboggling numbers on music-streaming platforms and are a huge hit in the global party scenes.
A schoolteacher in the US, a music enthusiast in Germany, and an ardent fan from Kenya... you scroll down the comments section of his original music video of Calm Down and you realise how his funky Afrobeats have unified people the world over.
“There is one rule I never compromise with while interacting with fans: Respect,” the Billboard-topping musician proudly shares with OTTplay just before the Delhi leg of his three-city tour in India, named — what else? — the Calm Down tour.
Edited excerpts from our conversation with the global star:
Currently, there’s no country in the world that is not humming to your smash hits. And, India is no exception to that. How does it feel to perform in front of a crowd that’s streamed Calm Down the highest number of times?
REMA: I feel very happy, honoured and privileged to be here. Indians are very kind, amazing, and loving and I really look forward to my performance here. I am really excited to be playing for such a loving and enthusiastic audience. I would also like to thank each and everybody for all the love shown to my track Calm Down.
Considering collaborations are integral to the art of music, do you have any Indian musicians you would like to collaborate with? Also, what do you know about the Indian film and music industries?
REMA: Bollywood is very big back home and I love Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan. Indian music has very emotional vocals, very high frequency, it makes you want to listen to it more and more. Regarding collaborations, I would love to collaborate with Badshah and AR Rahman, these are my two most favourites.
You hit it out of the park early on, do you feel the pressure to stay on top at all times? Does the thought of being labelled “one-song wonder” scare you?
REMA: I've been dropping hits before Calm Down and they all have been successful. Criticism does not scare me. I’m here because of my fans and I’m going to stay and grow even further because of the fan love and the appreciation for all my music.
A lot of musicians—around the globe—take to lip-syncing during live concerts. Your thoughts on that?
REMA: Personally, I value the live aspect of performing and connecting with my audience in the moment. I strive to deliver an authentic and genuine performance by singing live during my shows. I believe that the imperfections and raw emotions that come with live singing can create a unique and memorable experience for both me and the audience.
You received a warm welcome at Mumbai airport and fans have been going gaga over your arrival in the country. What do you have to say about the Indian hospitality?
REMA: Yes, I indeed received a warm and vibrant welcome in Mumbai, it already is my favourite city. Since childhood I know that India is a place of high cultural values and religion as well. I was welcomed with some garlands and a turban as well; it really made me very happy. I look forward to sampling some spicy food, listen to some new folk music, meet new people as I have heard lots about it. I am extremely excited about my debut tour here. I already tried vada pav, pani puri and chicken tikka rolls!
While interacting with fans both on and off stage, what is that one rule you don’t compromise with?
REMA: There is one rule I never compromise with while interacting with fans, both on and off stage: Respect. Respect is the foundation of any meaningful connection and relationship, and it is crucial when it comes to engaging with my fans. I firmly believe in treating my fans with kindness, appreciation, and genuine respect, regardless of their age, background, or level of fandom. Whether it's through my stage presence, engaging with the crowd, or taking the time to interact with fans during or after the show, I prioritize making them feel respected and appreciated for their presence.