Florida-born, Nasvhille-based R&B crooner R.LUM.R goes where the music takes him. Initially playing Orlando’s singer-songwriter circuit under his given name, Reggie Williams became R.LUM.R (his middle name is Lamar) around the same time he worked on songs earmarked for Atlantic Records.
While the tunes weren’t picked up by any of the label’s big acts, Spotify loved them and helped his hit single, Frustrated, gather over 30 million streams to date.
After a move to Nashville and some high praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, NPR, and the New York Times, Williams is looking to push his creative palette even further.
In the meantime, he’ll release the Alterimage EP with PRMD Music next month, a collection of new versions of the songs from his debut.
After two-and-a-half weeks of writing sessions in L.A. and Chicago, Williams recently spoke with PACIFIC from his home in Nashville while catching up on some laundry.
PACIFIC: Transitioning from classical guitarist and singer/songwriter into the world of R&B must have come with some adjustments.
WILLIAMS: The way I look at it is that having more influences just gives you more tools. If you need something for a Phillips head, well, you’ve got that one, plus you’ve got the small one, the long one, the one with the crank on the back, flathead. More tools.
But it also gives you more opportunities to spot the commonalities between it all. Like, Paul McCartney got the OK from Rae Sremmurd. Elton John is a real Young Thug fan. Kanye West sampled King Crimson and people lost their minds. Stuff like that. It’s everywhere.
But there is always that desire to be heard and help people through your experience — at least that’s what I hope I’m projecting — in all music.
I did grow up just listening to R&B, soul and jazz. Linkin Park was legitimately my first introduction to any kind of music other than that. But identity is a fluid concept. And this is where I am right now. These songs are snapshots of that.
Are there new freedoms that come along with it as well?
Yes. It’s awesome. And it’s a little known fact, but I did acapella in college. And I experienced some of the same kind of freedoms with it. I was always behind the guitar. I remember being told that I clearly didn’t know what to do with my hands on stage if they didn’t have a guitar in them. I hadn’t noticed that before, but stripping those dependancies away forces you to ask, “Ok, well, do I have any other tools?”
And the answer can legitimately be “no.” But, in this case, I found the problem-solving of it fun and interesting. It’s an endorphin buzz whenever I figure out making a sound with this phaser or that compressor. And I wouldn’t have realized that unless I fiddled around with Ableton or ProTools like I did when I was coming up, or had friends who find the same things interesting.
Another thing I found as a freedom was not having so much of the emphasis of the transferrance of meaning being on my voice and lyrics. I think I learned that from (New Zealand singer) Kimbra.
I read an interview once where she talked about how she likes to treat her vocal recordings as just another instrument — rather than voice-and-accompaniment. I really like the idea of becoming another part of the ensemble. That way, the whole thing is more cohesive and meant to go together.
What is the set-up of the live show?
It’s a trio. I play guitar and do some vocal manipulation stuff. I have a guy who plays keys and runs some tracks. And my drummer who plays his set and some samples as well.
Your Afterimage EP came out last year. What’s next?
The EP was actually a change for me. I had five songs out before that. So the idea to do a cohesive release with all new stuff — with the exception of Frustrated — was a change. Right now, I’m just working on my own beats and production. And I’m still doing guitar music through Instagram. But my real job right now, more than anything, is to make sincere music and not limit myself.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 8
Where: The Loft @ UCSD, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla.
Cost: Sold out