10 Questions With REHMA on Her "HYPNOTIC" New Single [Q&A]
Photo: Tara Tajdini
We are blessed with being keyed into great up-and-coming acts early, call it the happiest byproduct of the gig, especially when we get sent an artist like REHMA—a South Asian artist who was raised in the great melange of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Hollywood disco. If that wasn’t interesting enough, listening to her latest single "HYPNOTIC" and watching its accompanying video made us silly with excitement, and because we're the ever-curious sort, we reached out to REHMA to find out more about the song, upcoming projects, and more.
Ones To Watch: Who is REHMA?
REHMA: I am a 23-year-old Pakistani-American singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. Majorly recognized as an R&B/Pop artist, but I like to push the boundaries and experiment as much as possible. A lot of my music stems from very serious emotions, but maintains an upbeat/energetic energy. Me and my friends like to call it moody booty music.
What is "HYPNOTIC" all about?
"HYPNOTIC" is really a testament of magic between women. I had a long period where I wasn’t able to work on music because I felt a disconnect with the industry. I recognize that this industry can be a very male-centered space, so "HYPNOTIC" is the first mission to be around as many brilliant femme creatives as I could.
How did you settle on the narrative of the music video?
I sat down with my best friend Elise Schatz, who is a brilliant, young female director in Los Angeles. This was truly our homecoming after five years of being on our separate artistic journeys. I let her know that this song is really about reclaiming our power as women no matter what state of mind we’re in. It’s about accepting the present moment as a force field and a superpower. After hearing that, she created this insane stick-figure storyboard of me transporting to a different universe and gaining powers to come back and handle my missions on Earth… I think Elise has an ability to take my spiritual and philosophical concepts like "HYPNOTIC" and put it on paper to execute them in a way that people can understand. Together, we were able to express what the magic of women feels like. We wanted to create a universe the girls can escape in.
Any collaborators on the song? Who produced it?
My first version of this song was with Rhea Raj, another South Asian-American artist. Her and I resonated on the dulling experience of being brown girls and trying to convince people that we deserve to take up space. Our hook manifested as a reinforcement to our security, abilities, and power. After writing this powerful mantra, we had to take it to another woman for production. I sat with one of the best producers I know—Alé Araya. She’s an integral part of my next project. She was able to sprinkle her genius on it and create this unique amount of negative space in the song but still make it bouncy and cinematic. Her and I sat through about seven sessions for that song specifically. We wanted to create a very singular experience. What’s insane is that this was just my introduction to working with women in the industry, so this is a really solid beginning to the project.
How do you feel your sound has evolved or changed since your first release?
I think I’ve evolved tremendously since I put my first song out. I was 15 when I released my first song and 19 when I dropped my first song across streaming platforms. My music started with me writing on people’s beats, so the process relied a lot on my songwriting/vocal production. I think those were valuable years because they helped me solidify my own voice and writing. I’m glad, since then, I’ve been able to get an intro to production and learn about it as I go. This has allowed me to flesh out the music from the jump with other producers, which helped me regain control over my sound. It allows me to tell the story not just from my voice but from the instruments, to the drums, to the voice.
Can we expect more of this style in the future?
Yes. This is definitely the home of my next project.
Besides this single, what else wshould we be on the lookout for?
This single is definitely a part of something larger. My next project, which I've named Anomaly, is another alter ego that women can turn on when they need to get by certain experiences in life. I won’t give away too much just yet, but we have a couple more singles planned before it drops... videos… some performances as well. Stay tuned!
What’s inspiring you right now outside of music?
Traveling. I just came back from Pakistan and it reminded me of why I do all of this in the first place. To be here right now, as a young Pakistani girl and have the privilege to create at this scale is an anomaly in itself. I think most of my inspiration is a result of the moments that remind me how small I am in the grand scheme of it all.
What's the best place to listen to and enjoy your music?
Under the stars. In a car when you’re with your girls. On your way to a d*** appointment… She’s versatile.
Who are your Ones To Watch?
Tamae… A Detroit-based R&B singer-songwriter. Her music has been getting me through life, particularly her song “Wait on Us.”