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Words & Photos / Jennalynn Fung

RINI’s use of songwriting as self-therapy has resulted in millions of devoted fans around the globe many of whom had sung their hearts out while in attendance at the Sol Blume music festival in Sacramento, California. 

Beyond his undeniably smooth vocals, it’s the sincerity behind his words that have won over so many. The candor of what he writes makes his music so profoundly relatable – there are no hyperboles or overextended metaphors to wrap one’s head around – he sings it how it is. Yet, his most streamed song, “My Favorite Clothes,” is the singer’s least favorite track for the same reasons that have brought him success and reverie among other musicians. 

“I just made it to get over the feelings, getting out of a bad relationship. It was like therapy – expressing how I feel. But, it feels like the most basic song – or the easiest thing that came up. I wrote the song in like twenty to thirty minutes in the back of my car.” Although his gaze is overtly hidden behind bold black sunglasses, he scratches his chin with his thumb, transported back behind the steering wheel again. “It was a fresh breakup – I could remember clearly, it was 12 to 1 AM. I was at a look out by myself and had my guitar in the back. The words just started coming. I was smoking, and started crying, thinking about my situation.” 

Just finishing his first U.S. festival performance, the Filipino-born, Melbourne-raised, and now LA-based, singer began to recline comfortably in the bungalow on the couch. “I was super excited to get on stage, because I haven’t been to Sacramento. I’m grateful – it’s an honor to be performing in front of so many beautiful people.”  

RINI begins to discuss the moments when fans of his music sometimes act like they already know him when they meet him, likely due to the sheer vulnerability of his music. RINI is well aware. “There’s power in being vulnerable,” he says. “I just [wrote] it so I can get it out of my system. I didn’t even think for a second maybe people will make assumptions – I don’t care. It’s how I feel, it needs to come out. It actually takes a lot though – people who are more vulnerable and expressive about how they feel, they’re the people that are strong.” 

“The way I write is not super direct – apart from ‘My Favorite Clothes.’ But, ‘Time is my friend until this life ends,’ that shit was deep for me. At the time I wrote it, I was thinking ‘I don’t know if I’m ever gonna get through this feeling of being depressed from this. But it helped me move on, speaking from an outside perspective. Telling me ‘it’s okay to be down right now. It’s gonna get better.’ It’s like therapy. I’m my own therapist when I write music.” 

Easy to assume that RINI might be the one friends turn to for advice because of his healthy relationship with his own emotions, and you would be right. “I have the right values and morals; I believe I give good advice. I always try to think about what the situation is, and how it affects other people. I hate disappointing people – I’m not a people pleaser, but I always want to be giving them 100%.” 

It’s similar to the simple philosophy he has on stage – he does what he does best, what is expected of himself, and hopes the audience enjoys it. “It’s up to everyone else how they take my music. But music always makes me feel better when I let it out – it helps me have a voice.” His performance skips the flashiness; it is stripped down, honest and down-to-earth, the sound of his voice coming through clear. By the responsive sound of the crowds’ screams and applause, he hasn’t let them down.

Other than the recognition he gets from his audiences, what gets RINI out of bed every day is himself. “I really think I’m at the point in my life where I’m trying to figure out ‘who I am’ – just whatever feels right to me. That’s what music is to me.” 

Music was never the plan, though. “10 years ago, I could never imagine myself doing music full time,” he says. “Growing up in a Filipino household, nobody thought that music was an actual job. My mom wanted me to be an engineer or nurse – that’s where all the money is.” 

Even when he started playing guitar at the age of 10, things didn’t change sharply in interest. “It was a hobby, I never took it seriously.” It wasn’t until  his family moved to Australia that his perspective shifted. “My dad got me playing guitar at church, and I loved it. I was like, ‘yo, this music thing, I’m actually enjoying it. There’s something I can do with it.’” 

From that point on, RINI honed in on his love for guitar, and began to find musicians to idolize. “I started listening to Guns and Roses –Slash. I was like, ‘yo, I need to learn how he does that!’ And Michael Jackson – my mom and dad love him.”

Had it not been for guitars, though, RINI says he would’ve ended up working on cars. “I love cars, especially old school, European, BMW, stuff like that. I would go to school and learn about being a mechanic.” 

Thankfully, RINI is nowhere near done with his work as a singer and songwriter. He’s actually working on a new album. “I’m excited for people to hear the new sound that I’m working on. It’s like a whole new conversation.” 

He has cemented his musical reputation through the diversity of his love songs – writing about being captivated by a woman’s beauty and aura, of wanting to treat someone right, of just wanting to be with that one person. But his newest project isn’t like the last few constellations that made up his albums or constellations. “That was talking about love, relationships. But, now, after a couple of years and going through some real life stuff, I want to talk about something different, like growing up – growing up in the sense where it’s like, I’m learning about myself.” 



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