In the trippy visuals for “Type 2”, LA-based newcomer Rence traverses the snowy great outdoors as the sky deepens to a hyper-coloured magenta, then sinking to a golden hue. It’s the universe the singer-songwriter has created for himself, working through his own inner turbulence.
Packed with rollicking synths, hooky melodies and experimental production, this song is a testimony to the fact that this is one artist to keep an eye on very closely in 2020.
We caught up withe Rence and talked dream collaborations as well as early musical inspirations…
When did you first realise you wanted to make music?
I knew I wanted to make music when I sang SXM 20on20 in the car at the top of my lungs every day on the way to and from elementary school. There was nothing else that gave me such intense joy, so I knew then and there I wanted to be able to give that same feeling to other people. I didn’t know I wanted to do it as my career for a while – until maybe 10 years later – but I knew I wanted to sing and create.
Who did you grow up listening to?
Interestingly my music taste did not come from my parents or relatives; we always had lots of CDs in the house but I never really remember hearing any of them. My exposure to music came from two places: in the car where I’d blast the radio when I was with someone other than my parents, and from the internet. Once I realised I could use some minimal research-like skills and find any song I wanted (or songs I didn’t even know I wanted yet), it was game over. I downloaded everything I could get my hands on and started listening whenever I could. This meant lots of T-Pain, Kanye West, OutKast, etc. – many of the artists who would go on to become my biggest influences.
Who are your biggest influences? And how have your influences changed since you first started making music?
My biggest, biggest musical influences have always been T-Pain, John Mayer, Sade and Kanye West: pioneers who did exactly what they believed in creatively regardless of what was current, cool or proven. They aren’t my biggest influences because of the specific type of music they make (not solely, anyway), but because of their innovative attitude. It is that same attitude that I strive for. However, I try to purposefully let influence seep from the huge span of art and music that I consume every day. I do not believe in genres – or at least in their functional, historical purposes – and so consume whatever I find to be well-made. I am a lover of greatness in any form, in any genre.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve always found inspiration within life itself; I work hard to let inspiration flow from anywhere and everywhere, rather than seeking it out in specific places or moments. I try and keep my eyes, ears, heart and mind open because I really believe inspiration can strike from the simplest or smallest of things, rather than just from big, life-altering moments (though those are certainly important to draw from as well). Today I might be inspired by just sitting outside, but tomorrow it might be from a funny conversation with a friend.
Did you write, sing and produce your latest singles “Type 2” and “Tears in December” alone? If you collaborated, who with?
I’ve always made sure to have a heavy hand in anything I put out, but I rarely work entirely alone. It has been through collaboration that I’ve figured out what I like, don’t like, how to do things, how not to them, etc. I wrote much of “Type 2” with two close friends/collaborators (Eva Honey and Rebecca Krueger) over essentially just an acoustic guitar, and then finishing the writing and produced the song alone (going crazy) in my studio. I then had my good friend (and nasty producer) Luke Swirsky add some additional synths and keys to widen the record and complete its world. “Tears in December” was made with the amazing Peter Fenn and Jesse Mason, and all of us contributed to the production and writing of the song. Then, after its form was sketched I spent some time with it to add my Rence weirdness as I often do with any record I make with others. It’s super important to me to put my unique, distinctive fingerprint on the songs I release right before they are finished.
You talked about “Tears In December” being inspired by you choice to leave NY to come back CA but then realising you left someone you wished you had not, do you feel like it was the right choice now that more time has passed? How has that impacted what you have done in LA? Do you think you will go back to NY? What was the biggest lesson you learned through that change?
Oh my goodness – leaving them was absolutely the wrong decision, so much so that I have since reversed it. But moving out west as a whole wasn’t – I am so happy I did. I think the switch was just bumpier then I anticipated. I’m not sure if I’ll make my way back east or not, but mostly because I don’t tend think about it. I’m really happy where I am because I’ve found that happiness in myself, rather than in a specific city or on a specific coast. And the biggest lesson I learned through my move was to hold onto what makes me, me. So much of who I became in New York is what I love about myself and I never want to abandon that.
What is the “Type 2” music video about?
The goal of the “Type 2” video was to create worlds and escapes. We filmed it in the most beautiful locations we could find across the US as we toured with Christian French, and Rigo (who co-directed the video with me) and I kept thinking about what it would be like to step into each of these places permanently. Then, we plotted ways to dramatise those worlds as disconnected from our current one – the purple and yellow sky in the fields, the glimpses of a negative world sprinkled throughout the video. In truth, when I wrote the song I was kind of mad at myself for never speaking my mind, and my first inclination was to just run – much like the subject matter of “Tears in December”, and what I end up doing at the end of this video.
What do you think of social media and its impact on music? Is there unnecessary pressure to be active online?
I think the pressure to be active online certainly exists, but I’m not sure I’d call it unnecessary. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the end of the shrouded artist era. For a long time, the closest you got to an artist (especially a bigger one) was at show, in your headphones, or on a billboard. Today, with the advent of social media and its increasing presence in the lives of us all, that no longer exists. But I don’t take it negatively – I love being able to talk directly with anyone who wants to. I make it a point to take time every day to hit people back, because I know it’s not fun to never hear back from the people you look up to, or have a music question for, or even just a life question for. I’m here.
What is your songwriting process like? Is that different from your producing process?
For me both processes are amorphous, and actually they often happen simultaneously. I much prefer creating the world of the song with the production and the songwriting together, rather than putting one on top of the other. This is why in a lot of my records (like Type 2 for example), the vocals are turned into production elements, too. In Type 2, I turned chops of different vocal sections into de facto instruments, and the driving vocal chop during the hook feels more like production than songwriting, though it is both.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Dominic Fike, Sam Gellaitry, BENEE, Dounia and Drake.
What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
Next is the level up of everything I’ve been working so hard at – more of the best songs I can make, the best performances I can put online for now, more tours and festivals (whenever that is), new merch, the same love and positivity as always.