Tuesday Jun 27, 2017
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NPR Music called him a "fast-rising artist whose falsetto is no joke" and spotlighted him as "an Artist To Watch at SXSW." Earmilk praised his "highly complex set of vocal skills." Clash marveled at his ability to "pluck at heart-strings while moving the waist." The Music Ninja applauded him for "fusing soul, pop, R&B and dance in a way that's as unique as it is exciting." He spent 6 months as the face of Spotify's Alt R&B playlist, and is now prominently featured in their biggest playlists, including Are and Be, The Newness, Chilled R&B, among several others.
This is an artist whose music has a sense of warmth and an undeniable soul that instantly connects with listeners. And as the stunning success of his hugely impactful lead single "Frustrated" portends, there's much more to come. At the moment, "Frustrated" has racked up 11 million-plus Spotify streams and growing, with total streams exceeding 16 million thanks to additionally stellar tracks like "Be Honest" and "Show Me").
We're talking, of course, about Reggie Williams, but you can call him R.LUM.R.
Bradenton, Florida-bred and currently Nashville-based, the man has a background and set of skills like few others. He's extremely well-grounded in old school R&B and jazz since birth, largely because he was only allowed to listen to the music his mother liked when growing up (think Sade, Anita Baker and George Benson). There was that one time when his sister tried playing Tupac in the house. That didn't go over so well.
And despite the previous R&B mentions, don't make the mistake of limiting him to just that genre because there's much more to him: he's a classically trained acoustic guitarist who grew up with the likes of Julian Bream and Christopher Parkening as potential role models. He was completely enamored with anime classics like Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist and Outlaw Star and studied Japanese as a second language at Florida State University. He and his school friends listened to Dark Side Of The Moon on repeat play as they slept, and he spent his youth listening to an eclectic mix of Prince, Debussy, the Sneaker Pimps, Ravel, Maxwell and Massive Attack, among many others.
"I'm a big fan of the song and of songwriting," he says of his music. "Obviously it isn't in the traditional sense of what people think of when they think of a singer-songwriter's music -- but that's where I started, and that's the same process I go through writing songs."
How would he best describe his music in terms of genre?
"If I had to label it, I'd say it's 'R&B/Singer-Songwriter/Soul/Electronic.' But," he smiles, "I don't want to limit myself."
His arrival was not sudden: With just an acoustic guitar, his voice, and growing number of original songs, young Reggie Williams put together some early recordings in Florida, began performing live and began to develop a following. As he tells it, those early days taught him some valuable eye-opening lessons.
"I think that honed my lyrical and songwriting process, and my process of listening to myself and what I think is real and important for me to write about."
Over the course of the past couple of years, his approach to songwriting -- and overall sound -- began to evolve with the inclusion of electronics and with it came the transformation from Reggie to R.LUM.R and eventually, a move to Nashville.
"I could've gone to L.A., I could've gone to New York, I could've gone to Chicago, or Atlanta," he says. "But as much as I respect those scenes, L.A. has a sound, New York has a sound, so does Chicago, so does Atlanta. Nashville was the only place that had two things: One, I couldn't find anybody in Nashville that was already doing something like what I wanted to do. And two, Nashville has a deep tradition of the song -- the storytelling and the lyric -- and I take that very seriously and personally."
And coming up next from the Nashville-based R.LUM.R is an imminent EP that will very likely blow some cross-genre minds.
"I feel like it's an exploration of all the things that R.LUM.R can be," promises Reggie. On it are low-tempo, piano driven tracks like "Learn," the punchy and rebellious "Bleed Into The Water," and "Love Less" -- a unique track which Reggie calls "an investigation into how does one love another person? What if I pull away from this person? What if I love less?"
"I just wanted to get more things out there, get people listening, get people educated," he says. "There's versatility, there's range and I feel like I have a lot of things to say. They're not always going to be in the same format, and I want to challenge listeners to be open to that."
"I went through some rough times," he says. "But things have, thankfully, turned out ok. People like my songs, I can pay my rent, I don't have to take shitty day jobs. I want to let people know that they can be more than their circumstances. You can overcome these things. I want to be an example of that."