3300+ Climbing Blog
Interviewed by: Celina Nunez
Photos approved by: Chris Martignago & R.LUM.R
Where did your name come from?
R.LUM.R is the representation of everything I am at his point. To be brief about it, it’s a combination of my first and middle name. Growing up, I was always made to be ashamed of myself about being who I wanted to be and liking what I liked, so I hid it all. It was for a multitude of reasons, and for the sake of brevity I won’t get specific, but it can mostly be boiled down to pressure to be “blacker” and the insidious effects that has on one’s psyche, but I did what I was told, and whatever I thought a person like me was supposed to do.
My middle name, Lamar, was just one I never really felt attached to. So I hid that. Getting my starts in music, I played acoustic and released and performed music as a singer-songwriter for a long time, which started basically because of my limited resources, and I kept going because of the positive ways I was affecting the world around me through that medium, but there’s always been another part of me that wanted to explore the stuff I’m exploring now, but never had the bravery or resources. So in the process of evolving into this music, I wanted to do something that pulled from my past and exposed all those things, but created a clear focus on the future.
Reggie, my first name, is in the first R, and with it being at the beginning of R.LUM.R, it’s the past, and the music I created that got me here. Though I’m evolving, I don’t want to abandon where I came from.
LUM is part of Lamar (my middle name) and represents the parts of myself I’d always hidden, and the present time. It means to me that I can take that stuff from back then and wear it proudly, turning it into positives. It’s also the center of the idea right now, so it’s fitting for it to be sitting where it is visually.
The last R is the future and the person I can be, coexisting with the person I’ve always been. Lamar ends with an “r”, and Reggie starts with an “r”, so it’s like bringing the ideas of the past and the present together, but in the future. I hope that wasn’t too convoluted.
Any quotes that have mentioned you online or in an article?
“R.LUM.R plucks at the heart-strings while moving the waist.”
Tell me a little bit about yourself (a bio for example). Basic information such as:
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.”
What is a typical day like for you? What do you like to do?
I spend a decent amount of time reading nowadays. I'm currentlly reading Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I've gotten a little bit back into video games for leisure, mainly playing The Last Of Us multiplayer. Other than that i'm usually learning some music stuff, or spending time with friends.
What type of music do you perform?
Music that takes from my experiences. I think people call it Alternative RnB.
What inspired you to do music?
A lot of things: My personal connection with learning songs that affect me strongly, My early listening habits, the urgings or teachers, girls I wanted to like me, wanting to express things I found it hard to say any other way.
What is your process for creating a new song?
It's really different each time. Sometimes I start in a DAW, sometimes it's a guitar or piano, sometimes I'll write a few sentences that turn into a completed thought later.
It's a bit unpredictable.
What artists do you look up to?
A lot of people for different reasons, but the first names that come to mind that I've been thinking about recently are Jack Garratt, Kanye, Elliot Smith, The National, Frank Ocean, and King Kendrick.
What does your personal performance consist of besides singing, if anything? Ex. Guitar? Piano?
I currently play in a trio where I play guitar onstage, and do some vocal manipulation and looping live. My drummer plays some drums and samples, and my keys player plays keys and some tracks.
What accomplishments have you had as an artist? Don’t be scared to brag!
I've been fortunate enough to do a lot of really cool, gratifying things in my career, and I really still feel like there's so much to build on, and a long way to go, but most rewarding without question is being able to know that your contribution has helped another person understand themselves or their life better. I remember a ton of songs that I connected to very personally, and it is amazing to think I could do that for another person.
What is your ultimate goal as a musician?
Basically, to do exactly what I mentioned in the last question as long as I possibly can, and for as many people as possible.
What have you done to reach your goals as an artist?
Haha tons of stuff. I'm not sure how to answer this, but there is certainly a lot one has to do. Writing, practice, a tolerance for travel, flexibility, a zen state you can flip on and off, time management, decision making skills, and a whole plethora of other skills one has to develop.
What makes you different from your competition?
Competition is irrelevant. The only person I'm in competition with is me.
My only job is to be as authentic as possible.
Do you have any big plans in the future as an artist? Any upcoming gigs that people can go see?
I plan on just growing these shows and the tribe as big as I can.
You can see all the upcoming shows at www.werlumr.com/tour
What do you think you need to get where you want to be in your career?
1. I need to continue putting out good music that I believe in.
2. Working hard to be as authentic and honest as possible.
3. Loving the people around me, forming genuine connections and remembering it isn't all about me.
Any links to your music?
Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/werlumr/
Any Social media you would like people to follow you on?
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This is a blog following the students' work at 3300+ Climbing.