“I got this tattoo because I figured I should live in the moment” related Reggie William’s Jr as he showed off his new ink. The American born R&B singer’s arm was bound up in a fresh roll of cling film, as GIGsoup sat down with him at the Sebright Arms last Thursday. R.LUM.R (pronounced Ar-Lamar) is an absolutely charming man; he is warm and full of laughter despite his jetlag, and is open and honest from the start. The R&B/electronic singer dropped his new single ‘Close Enough’ in July and is currently touring the world on a serious life high. William’s opened up about his life on the road, his creative process and his bewilderment at the idea of English cuisine.
GIGsoup: Have you been to the UK before?
I have. I came in March for some promo stuff. And I was shooting a video for ‘Love Less’ too. But this is the first time I’ve been able to come over and play a show which is pretty exciting for me. I can’t remember what movie it is. But there’s that Simon Pegg movie where he’s fighting zombies.
‘Shaun of the Dead’?
‘Shaun of the Dead’, and this pub (Sebright Arms) looks exactly like the one in that movie. It’s so fun. My bandmate Mitch loves English food so we went to St Johns yesterday, I don’t know if you know it. He got a bone marrow thing, and he was showing me all these pictures! He was so excited, but it looked horrible. I was like; you go ahead dude. I’ll have pizza and a cider and be very happy. Someone told me I should try blood pie?
Oh, you mean black pudding. They’re these little round disks made with sausage and blood. Sounds great doesn’t it?
That does not sound good. *laughter*
So you’re on tour at the moment, where are you heading to next?
We’re flying to Berlin, then we’re going to Denmark. And then after that we’re going back to LA to drive to Alabama to do a radio show there. Then we’re going back to Nashville. So it’s going to be the home stretch.
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How is it being on tour? Do you enjoy it?
Fair question. Obviously there are ups and downs; not speaking to the people that you speak to all the time is hard. But they’re all very supportive of what we do. Its cool because this whole tour has been cities that I’ve never been to before. To go to Santa Ana, California and play to a small crowd is totally wild. And it’s all because they’ve all found us because of the internet. Its fun having different venues inviting us to come and perform and have a good time. If you’re away for a long while you can miss stuff at home, but then you have a whole host of other experiences you know what I mean?
In July you released ‘Close Enough’ on Soundcloud and it’s been doing very well. I suppose my question is about the studio experience vs the tour experience. Do you ever take a break from either?
I usually just keep writing. I feel like if you stop for too long that you start getting cold. But there are times where you need a re-charge. For me there’s an input period and an output period. If the output period happens to be when I’m on tour then I’m still going to be writing stuff. If I just don’t feel like anything is coming to me whilst on tour then I wont write anything. I just know there are two very distinct periods for me, but I just know I have to keep writing.
So you never really need a re-charge period?
I think the input period is also the re-charge period. But, I guess it isn’t always just writing songs. Its concerts, music videos, fashion, writing poetry or writing for other artists. It can be an axillary sort of thing. I guess I do keep making stuff all the time.
Yeah, keep the muscles working out.
I had a little look at your twitter today and saw that Brasstracks gave you a shout out.
Oh yeah, did you see my reply? They liked my tweet from a year and a half ago. There’s that Gallant ‘Weight in Gold’ remix they did. The re-harmonisations are super cool. I hope I get to work with them one day.
I bet you would work really well together.
I agree! They’re so jazz and R&B focused as far as their harmonisations go. I’m so down to collaborate.
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Do you often get compared to Gallant? I can sort of see why.
I do, I can see why. We’re two black dudes that sing in falsetto. *laughs*
But even production wise?
I’m definitely doing my own thing and so is he. I can see on a topical level why you would see a comparison between us. I met him a couple of times actually. He’s a really nice guy. But as soon as the camera comes out, its all about the sad face.
Like his album cover?
That’s his thing. Cool guy.
Anybody you would like to collaborate with in the future aside from Brasstracks?
I’m a big fan of Kimbra’s work. She was one of the people that inspired me to use voice manipulation and effects. She does that too. I would love to collaborate with Sampha. He has such a succinct way of writing about experience, which I think is really cool. That whole record, including the track ‘Blood on Me’ sounds like anxiety to me. With the piano notes and everything. I feel like he illustrates emotion sonically really, really well. I really like him. Those are the first two that come to my head when anybody asks.
What’s next for you?
Getting back into the studio. We’re doing Jimmy Kimmel back in the states. Which is cool but I’m definitely getting back into the studio. Going to take some time away from the tour. We’re booking more stuff for the US toward the end of the year.
When you’re on tour. How do you keep yourself happy and on a good flow?
That’s a very empathetic question. I do a lot of reading. I’m reading ‘Between The World and Me’ Ta-Neshi Coates. I write a lot of poetry; if I don’t write it down I never remember it. I also love cartoons.
I’m watching one called ‘Future Diary’, it’s not very good. but You need to give stuff some time.
Like a book where you read a few chapters?
That’s right. I really like ‘Rick and Morty’. Rick just hates himself and everything is so strange and existential. Other than that I mostly just hang out with the band boys. We’re experiencing all these new moments together. We’re all revelling in those moments together I think
How did you come to meet all your band mates?
My bandigoes? I met Coby in Nashville, when I moved out from Orlando. He plays drums. This is drums: *plays air drums*. I met Mitch through…I actually don’t remember how I met him….actually I do! I was working at this t-shirt folding factory. It was the worst.
That sounds horrible.
It was awful. There was a drummer that knew a guy called Cody, but he couldn’t do it and he recommended Mitch. He’s been with me over a year. Everyone came together quite randomly actually.
What’s the biggest crowd you’ve ever played too?
There was a show in Sacramento called Concerts in the Park, which was about six-thousand people. I liked the name.
Keep it simple.
Yeah, just go to the park, they’’ll be a concert and it will be great. It will loud and beautiful.
I’m open to both. But I think the live experience is interesting because I don’t think people expect the show to be the way it is. Which I think is an advantage actually. My background is actually in bands; DIY, Punk and Indie bands, back in Florida. There’s a Christian Hard-core scene of, like, Underoath and Burden of a Day. I actually opened solo for Burden For A Day, singing Anthony Green covers, can you believe that? They were heroes of our hometown. My background is in performance and that’s where I feel the strongest. With a lot of the acts that I’m compared to, a lot of them come out with a DJ and that’s it. I feel that our set up is a little bit grander and a bit more improvised. I think we give people more than they expect; they’re expecting a Trey Songs kind of thing, you know what I mean? Though I haven’t really asked the SoundCloud people what they think of it live though.