2017 saw the rise of a new voice in R&B/Soul, a surprising reminder not to judge a book by its cover. R.LUM.R may not look the part of a dynamic classically trained musician and equally talented crooner, but the music speaks for itself.
Born, Reginald Lamar Williams, Jr., in Orlando, Florida, he learned how to play classical guitar in high school and developed a deep passion for playing music and singing while in a public charter school for the arts. It would take some years before he would decide that he would be better off in the forefront, rather than writing behind the scenes. From there he had to find his sound and voice, and then came maybe the hardest part, settling in on a name.
Right around 2013 R.LUM.R was born, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he decided to pursue music full time. What came next was a grind that has led to many much deserved accolades. His latest? R.LUM.R was recently named the latest United States bred Deezer Next 2018 artist.
Headquartered in Paris, Deezer is the world’s most personal music streaming service. Available in over 180 countries worldwide, Deezer connects 14 million monthly active users around the world to 53 million tracks. Deezer next artists are provided with 2 months of support through collaborative work such as profile development and a combination of playlisting and creative marketing campaigns.
We caught up with R.LUM.R to talk about his story in music, being named the latest U.S. representative for the Deezer Next campaign and much more. Check out the interview below.
Parlé Mag: Talk to me about your journey in music, particularly the roller coaster of these last couple of years. How would you describe it?
R.LUM.R: The last few years have really been a big adjustment in some ways, exactly what I was hoping would happen in other ways, and way more amazing than I ever imagined in other ways. Touring and having less time to write has been a bigger adjustment than I would’ve thought, but if you would have told me 2 years ago that I could sell out a show in France my FIRST time ever being there, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Getting on the lineup for Festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Hangout has been incredible. Again, there were definitely times where I thought I would never get this far, but it’s extremely validating to see how far we’ve come.
Parlé Mag: You’ve recently been named a Deezer Next 2018 artist. How do you feel about the accolade?
R.LUM.R: It’s amazing. It’s so powerful. It was amazing to come to France for the first time to a sold out show in Paris, and undoubtedly Deezer was a big help.
Parlé Mag: Having platforms like Deezer recognize your talents and your music, what does that mean to you at this point of your career?
R.LUM.R: It’s amazing to think that people on the other side of the world are so into this music that they’re willing to put their resources and time behind promoting it. Deezer has a platform that can help people find out about my music, since streaming is such a huge way people discover music now and having Deezer help in making that introduction is a massive help for me.
Parlé Mag: For those who might just be discovering R.LUM.R, or about to discover you, thanks to Deezer, how would you describe your music?
R.LUM.R: I would call it Emo/Indie/R&B, but what that means is always changing for me, so I heavily recommend they listen and make their own conclusions.
Parlé Mag: Let’s talk about Afterimage (Amazing, Amazing project by the way… made our list of best projects of 2017). Just tell me about the creative approach to the music. What were you hoping to convey?
R.LUM.R: Thank you so much!
With Afterimage, I just wanted to say everything that was on my heart and mind, and explore the possibilities of what R.LUM.R can be. With the first full release you have the freedom to explore the possibility of the future for a sound, and I wanted to do that. There are angry songs, sad songs, hopeful songs… all under one roof. I feel all those things, so why not talk about them?
Parlé Mag: Why that title?
R.LUM.R: I think of the songs as afterimages of myself and my past. Like I said earlier, they are meant to represent different parts of my experiences that are distinct, yet connected. Once you put all those into focus, they combine to make up who I am.
Parlé Mag: “Frustrated” was the single, how did that track come together?
R.LUM.R: I wrote “Frustrated” on an acoustic guitar in my apartment in Orlando, and didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I did know that it felt really good, but not what it would sound like in the end. Luckily, I was making trips to Nashville to try co-writing/co-producing, and I met Super Duper (Josh Hawkins) who ended up producing the song. I sat on his couch and played him a few songs, and he was just like “I like that one! Let’s work on that one!”, and that became “Frustrated” as you hear it today.
Parlé Mag: Most recently you released Alterimage, where we get to see your musicianship along with a new feel for the vocals. Did you always plan to release the music that way or did that concept come to you after the initial EP release?
R.LUM.R: The concept for Alterimage came after Afterimage was already done. My friend Thomas Daniel (who you see playing on “Love Less” and “Learn”) did a reharmonization of “Love Less” on his Instagram and it helped sparked the idea. I got in contact with him, and we worked on the idea together, and it naturally just developed and expanded from there into what you see today.
Before you get into this next question, you have to understand how Reginald Lamar Williams, Jr. became R.LUM.R. The singer explained the meaning behind the pseudonym to music blog The Music Ninja. So we’ll share that here…
“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.”
Back to the regularly scheduled interview…
Parlé Mag: I read the story of the name R.LUM.R, but I always wonder, what were some of the names you thought about that didn’t make the final cut?
R.LUM.R: Hahaha I love this question. I literally have a spreadsheet of names I rejected, and there are 20 in total, but my favorite runners up are Ntrnl (pronounced “internal”), Overthought and Neverminder.
Parlé Mag: Those are all amazing (laughs), would be interested to see how those names played out. On another note, no collaborations on the EP, wonder if you would be looking to team up with other artists? Any artists in mind?
R.LUM.R: I don’t know about collaborations just yet, as I’m writing, but I think if something organically rises and it fits, I’d do it. That said there are plenty artists I’d love to work with, like Kimbra, Sampha, Moses Sumney, or Dev Hynes.
Parlé Mag: What’s next for R.LUM.R? Any chance we get more new music before the year is out?
R.LUM.R: New music before the end of the year is certainly a possibility