"I've been rocking with her, and it was a blessing to find out she actually rocks with me," the Nigerian performer tells PEOPLE
While walking the red carpet at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, the Nigerian musician opened up about linking up with Gomez to make the Afrobeats track, which has topped charts around the world since its release last year.
Rema had faith in his artistic efforts while making the solo version of "Calm Down" for his album Rave & Roses, released in February 2022, but there's no way he could've predicted the song's remix would go on to accomplish accolades like winning best Afrobeats video at the awards ceremony.
"I believe that everything I do is special. Different songs will resonate to people differently, but when I walked in the studio, really and truly, I was just singing my reality," the 23-year-old performer tells PEOPLE of the collaboration, which dropped in August 2022. "'Calm Down' did what it's supposed to do, and I'm proud of it."
Upon setting out to remix the song, Rema called Gomez, 31, because he was already a fan of her music. "Everybody rocks with Selena, first of all," he explains. "I've been rocking with her, and it was a blessing to find out she actually rocks with me. She listens to my music."
Now, he considers the "Single Soon" musician "a friend of mine — close friend."
"Me and Selena talk often. We're pals," says Rema. who's spent the last year touring extensively around the world. "We've not had the time to party and celebrate because we're all working, but of course, we always go back to take it all in."
In addition to the VMA win, "Calm Down" spent a record-setting 45 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart and became Rema's first-ever top-10 single in the United States.
When the two artists accepted their Moon Person trophy on Tuesday, Gomez took a moment to express gratitude toward Rema for collaborating with her.
"Thank you so much, Rema, for believing in me, and thank you for choosing me to be a part of such an incredible song that's been able to break records," she said on stage.
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