Recently signed to Epic Records – D.C. born, Seattle raised and now Brooklyn based artist Rence – is making music that crosses genres and hones in emotions and reality in the most authentic way.
In talking to Rence, his passion and self-awareness are undeniable. One could hear such immense confidence and consciousness in his voice. He’s an artist who is about the art, first and foremost. His purpose is clear and his talent is transparent as it is distinct.
We caught up with the up & coming star to dive into his artistry, releases and future plans.
The Knockturnal: When did you first start making music?
Rence: “It’s funny, I was actually thinking about this yesterday. First real song I ever made was my final project in 8th grade… 8th grade was the first song I ever made seriously and then I took it seriously from then on. But, It wasn’t until college, freshman year of college 3 years ago that I really started releasing music to like streaming services and starting to take myself more seriously.
The Knockturnal: I also know that you went to school for music, at NYU? What was the program like?
Rence: I was in a program called ‘Performance Studies’ at the Tisch School of the Arts.
The Knockturnal: How did that help you transition into the industry and develop your artistry?
Rence: Performance Studies was my major but I minored in what’s called BEMT, which is basically like entertainment industry. So that was taking all of the classes like entertainment law, learning how to read contracts, music publishing – and through those classes, I found my way to a lot of internships like branding and booking agency and publishing companies – to really just understand the industry before I stepped into it. But my major was more theoretical and analysis of performance so that’s what maybe helped my artistic side, and my minor was actually a huge contributing factor to my understanding.
The Knockturnal: Your latest release “Expensive ft. Noah Cyrus” is a beautiful track. Talk to me about how that collaboration came together.
Rence: It’s crazy. I was looking through my phone and I was working on it a year ago from the day it was released. I was in the middle of working on it. It’s actually one of the songs I’ve worked on the longest… I started wrapping it up and I just always been a gigantic fan of Noah and her voice and decided that I wanted her on the song. Figured out the best way we could give it to her and kind’ve just hit it from whatever angles we could. And then it turned out that she really fell in love with the song – so kind’ve after finishing the song, we took some steps backward and we re-did it with her, and then she turned out to be one of the coolest people ever.
The Knockturnal: You have your live show coming up in about a month. What can people expect from a Rence live show?
Rence: It’s something I’m so excited for. I performed around New York before but it was like a year ago, and it was a very different iteration of me. That was just me, with backing tracks you know. Now, I’m in the business of giving people value, if they want to take their time, to come buy a ticket and see me, you can expect a full show, with a band, with me giving everything I have to give the best experience possible for that night.
The Knockturnal: What keeps you inspired to create that next track?
Rence: For me, it’s a focus on trying to remain, honestly, enamored with existence. Music that I make is truly a by-product of really being present and aware in the world. So if you’re able to hold onto wonder of minor experiences and finding joy in the mundane, that’s what inspires me. Sometimes even what inspires me are the uninspiring things. It’s about perspective for me. One of my most popular songs right now is called ‘Baby Blue’ – the chorus is literally like ‘Oh I’m holding on to my daydream’ – like that’s the idea, of holding on to whatever excites you…
The Knockturnal: What’s your creative process like? What’s a session in the studio with Rence like? Do the lyrics come first? Does the production come first? How does it all come together?
Rence: That’s a great question. It’s so fluid and I think just being fluid and open minded to the process contributes to a more well-rounded result – because, things happen differently and I think that’s part of the beauty of it. So, as I’m living my life, I’m always writing down lyric ideas, sometimes I write songs without hearing anything – which are more poetry based.
I love producing. I was a producer first, that’s how I started in the music world. So I’ll just sit and make tracks but because I have an openness with myself as I create. So I’m sitting, producing songs, playing keys, whatever, working in Ableton or doing production. But, I also have a mic, and I’m recording as I go like a do one thing then do the other type scenario. It’s just like whatever feels natural to contribute to the song is what’s contributed. And that’s when I’m working alone, when I’m working with other people too.
The Knockturnal: What can we expect in terms of visuals? I can tell through just talking to you that you have a very clear idea on who you are as an artist.
A: I’m headed out to LA to shoot the video for Expensive with Noah, which I’m super excited about. There will be visuals, there will be a plethora of visuals. The common thread that runs through them, is making the best art possible. Disregarding budget, or people or song, just to focus and work as hard as I can with my team to make timeless art pieces. For me, that usually centralizes around moments, really taking time with moments…
Rence: Are you going to be dropping an EP/Project soon? Or will you stick to dropping singles before an actual project?
The Knockturnal: I have so much music, not only has it become my career but it’s just what I absolutely love to do. So, never a shortage of music – it’s become about feeling out how songs respond and kind’ve reacting to the way music is digested today. I think for a little while it’s just going to be singles because the streaming services and everything reward a constant flow of content. But, with that being said, I was raised on albums and I will be a full-album artist officially but still with some flexibility so that I can release singles when I want to and not be held into just one album.
The Knockturnal: Interested to know who some of your influences are. Who were you listening to growing up and who do you listen to now? As well as how these artists with their own artistry influence you within your own?
Rence: Absolutely. I’m of a certain generation that really have listened to everything. From when I was born, all the music that came before that, everything that’s new, I try to take in everything because that’s a lot of what inspires me. But, specific artists that have inspired me the most – are the ones that amidst all of this great music, or bad music or whatever – are doing very unique things, and independent of whatever else is going on. So my number one favorite has been and will always be T-Pain. The first artist I ever listened to, I was raised on T-Pain. Others are, Sade – I’m a huge Sade fan, John Mayer – just like these people who are pioneers in their field because their field is best. I think the artists that work in that way, that define themselves rather than be defined by other artists are the ones that can have a career – rather than a moment or a year. I think that it’s sometimes often overlooked – because certain things sell in the moment or it’s easier to follow a pass that’s already been paved. If you really believe in what you’re doing and pave the path yourself then other people will follow that path rather than you following someone else’s.
The Knockturnal: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see the music going?
Rence: I hope to be doing exactly what I want to be doing. And in fact, I will be doing exactly what I want to be doing… In terms of where I want to be in the industry, I want to be unapologetically doing my thing. I don’t doubt that if I’m able to do that, to the best of my ability, and put everything I have into it that I can be whatever I want to be. Of course I want to have my music playing everywhere and playing gigantic shows. But I also just want to be happy with myself as a person and as an artist.
The Knockturnal: I love asking artists this question. But what song lyric (of your own) would you have tattooed on you?
Rence: What a great question, let me think – maybe this is a cop out answer – but in the first song on my last EP “Pink” – the song is called Magnolia. That song I wrote like many, many years ago and a lyric that I would actually pull from that is just “I’m here.”
Take that as you will but to me, it was me reminding myself that I am physically here, I’m emotionally here, I am real and I want to continue being real for myself.
Rence has an upcoming NYC show in Brooklyn at Baby’s All Right on July 24th.