photo by Alex Smith
For the second Three Six Five Live Session, I met up with Reggie Williams, a Florida-based musician currently on his second Kickstarter-backed tour. We were able to film a few songs in the penthouse of the Hotel on Rivington during CMJ and he was kind enough to take some time out of his day to speak with me about New York, crowdfunding, and finding inspiration.
The Ruckus: Have you performed at CMJ before?
Reggie Williams: This is actually my first CMJ as an artist. Last year, I was here as a volunteer. You’ve got to get your foot in the door somehow!
TR: How are you enjoying CMJ so far?
RW: It’s weird because when you are in New York City, you forget you can just run into famous people. Like I ran into Amos Lee and he’s really nice, soft spoken and kind of quiet. Really tall! Wow, that’s cool, just met Amos Lee! But I’ve been going to some shows too. I saw Elle King, she was awesome. I saw Aurora, really beautiful voice. She’s very young, I think 17 years old, but such a stage presence for that age. Very confident. I was not there at 17.
TR: How do you like New York City?
RW: I've been here a few times, but I’m really warming up to it, ironically, because it’s pretty morbid outside (editor’s note: it was 55 degrees, grey, and rainy at the time). I’m from Florida so I didn’t bring a jacket or really the right kind of jacket, I have like a Florida jacket. I should have known better because my mother is from Rochester and she warned me, “I’m telling you, bring a good jacket.” I called her earlier and she asked “are you cold?” and I’m like I don’t want to talk about it. But I do like it here, it’s different, the hustle and bustle. I like the public transit and that you can walk almost everywhere. And there’s so many people going to different places and doing their thing and you wonder what are these people’s live like. There are so many individual worlds moving around.
TR: What’s the music scene like where you live?
RW: I live in Orlando and it’s not all about the mouse, but I think it’s good. Central Florida in particular has a good pop punk and hardcore scene. A good, heavy music scene in general. It takes some time to find your niche and gain a following but I’m really enjoying it. My life in Orlando has brought me many places and now I’m at CMJ.
TR: Is your CMJ stop part of a larger tour you’re on?
RW: CMJ is one of the anchor dates. I’m on tour for two months with another musician who is on tour with me named Matthew Fowler. I did a tour like this last year by myself.
TR: That’s what your successful Kickstarter campaign was for?
RW: Yeah, the first Kickstarter I did was for that tour and then me and Matthew just did another one for this tour and to record as well.
TR: How did you find that experience to be?
RW: I thought that by doing a Kickstarter, it’s like a peer to peer thing, I’m not forcing anyone to do something and it invites them into a partnership and allows us to build something from it. They are putting their faith in me, which means they trust me and believe in what I do. As a thank you for that we can give them something in return.
TR: What was your favorite reward?
RW: This year there was a reward where I said I would wear these zebra print tights to a show and someone actually went with that. So that person got to pick the city where I wore those tights. And I really wanted to do it! I was so happy when that one went. We also made lyric books and I liked that I was able to be really expressive with that, like with hand-drawnings. That was very personal to me.
TR: What is your songwriting process like?
RW: I think that whatever you do, you just have to be completely honest, whether it’s a song you write or doing something like Kickstarter or even having conversation. I find a lot of inspiration in conversations, I like talking to people. I like walking and seeing things and New York is great for all of that.
TR: What else do you have going on for CMJ?
RW: I’m playing a show tonight (October 22) as part of the Starbucks showcase at Astor Place and then I have a show at the Greenpoint Gallery with Matthew on Friday (October 24).