Black Hole is Lost Planet’s talented amalgam of designers, dreamers, visual artists and practical ideasmiths. Reginald William Butler is one such talented dreamer, both in his work as a designer and in his alternative occupation as a gifted musician.
Earlier this year, Reggie released his second album, Being in Like, the culmination of the better part of a decade’s work and a deep love for R&B.
We talked to Reggie about his new album, musical influences and how his creativity transcends platforms from music to design to animation and beyond.
Tell us about Being in Like. When did it start? How did it start? What’s it about?
Being In Like is my sophomore album. My first release was almost 9 years ago. Yikes. Not as planned, each album clearly reflects my state at the time. Whereas the first, The Green Room, was about the ‘wait’ and ‘discovery’ of love, this album is more about the nuance of how to stay in love – and ‘like’ is one of those avenues. It’s the countless number of likes that add up to the love and make relationships more enjoyable. ‘Love’ sometimes falls victim to convention. “I love you, so I MUST do X for you” vs. “I’d like to do X for you”. There is so much pressure surrounding the word ‘love’. And at times this doesn’t incite motivation, rather it heeds ‘obligation’. ‘Like’ is more basic, something you know right off the bat.
Each song in the album takes you on a dip between ups and downs, mimicking what it’s really like – being in like. This particular project took about 4 years. Finding balance between 9-5 work and family was a constant. Sometimes months would go by before finishing one song. But this was my process and it’s how the music is made. Took me a while to come to terms with this but equate it to a baby being born. Every move made prior to the birth, good or bad, led to that specific birth. The process is the process.
I always recorded at night. The voice is more alive then!!! But I’m a huge family man, so even if I stayed out until 3, I still woke up when ‘they’ woke up. I learned later that patience and focus gained through having a family and balancing work; became a core ingredient to the songwriting.
What are your musical influences? What are your creative influences?
Before Reginald William, there was ‘rnb’. Here in NYC I started out as a poet/songwriter who was part of a Hip-Hop group called Unlimited Vinyl. It was comprised of a bunch of other New Yorkers who were all originally from the same part of Maryland ( the DMV ). R&B was a big genre for me growing up and for most in Maryland. So the name ‘rnb’ was born because I knew just about every 80’s/90’s R&B song there was and I’d perform them at Open Mics. And it was close to my initials!
I respect the vocal quality and lyrics of people like Eric Benet and Stevie Wonder. I’m still moved by the older male R&B groups like Jodeci, Dru Hill, Boyz II Men, New Edition. Babyface, Anthony Hamilton, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele and Jill Scott are high on the list as well. I have some roots in Gospel Music as I sang in the Church Choir heavily as a teen. So Kirk Franklin is on the list too. People would often joke about the fact that I could listen to slow soul music at any point during the day. Even at the club, yes! Never the wrong time for that! Coltrane puts me in a zone.
The ‘designer’ in me evolved oddly enough from my love of cartoons. I grew up mainly creating art; painting with oils and cartooning. After Cooper Union, I went into the animation world and worked on my childhood fav for years- Ninja Turtles. From there I used my design knowledge to help navigate into the commercial world – creating television show packages for networks that were as alive as ‘animation’ but rooted in ‘good design’. I still love the work of Saul Bass. I don’t believe that every shape’s edge has to be perfect. I am all for breaking a rule every now and then– all for the sake of something looking good. Just make it look good! This is how I create, it’s how I design.
Do you feel like the interdisciplinary nature of your talents (designer AND musician) benefit each craft? That is, does singing/songwriting impact your designing and vice versa?
I’ve never limited my ‘creativity’. I’ve never been just ‘one thing’. One discipline has always informs on the next, it’s who I am. With that said, I can never truly force what cycle I am going to be in. I could be performing one month and then writing a script the next, and then designing the month after that. My mind is always going. When I write a song, I often apply a visual video to it in my head. And, yes, said video usually has a certain designed style attached. It’s all the same to me. It’s all art.
Plug the album! Where can people find it? Where can people find you?
Please show support. You can search ‘Reginald William – Being In Like’ and download digital copies on Itunes, Spotify, Google Music and even stream on Apple Music. For all of the ‘old school’ folks, you can purchase as an actual CD as well on CDBaby.com. Did anyone else know that CDS were officially dead?!! You can also catch a few acoustic sets on YouTube or my site – reginaldwilliam.com. Find me on Instagram @reginaldwilliam.
Anything else you want to mention?
My iphone has been a real good friend. Because my schedule is busy often with work and family; there are times when I can’t even touch a pen or a mic. I record blips into my phone instead. I sing completely fake temp lyrics just to get the melody across and sometimes even humm out instrument parts. I walk down the street like a crazy man! Then I sit on it until The Universe says the time is right. It’s then that I hit up my producer and we go back and forth until a song is born. Many songs on this album were a result of this process. Ha. There are many a times, my wife can attest to, that I’d wake up in the middle of the night and rush to grab my phone so I can record, trying to piece together remnants of what I heard while sleeping. Love it!