Reuben Reuel is a multi-disciplinary artist, but music is his soul. It didn’t start with music, however. With an original background in TV/Film, he got his start on episodes of Sesame Street, and began taking professional acting classes under Sharon Richardson at Weiss Barron, and summer classes at the Fairmount Performing Arts Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Off Broadway credits include productions of Oliver, Children of Eden, and Grapes of Wrath. An alumnus of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, colloquially known as the 'Fame' school, he studied under many professional actors and coaches such as Sandy Faison, Harry Shifman, and Todd Susman. During this time, he performed an off-broadway showcase at the Daryl Roth Theater under the direction of Joe Barros, and had a role in the play 'A Flea in Her Ear,' co-directed by Jon Davidson and Ally Sheedy at LaGuardia High School. Graduating in 2014, he continued his training at The New School until 2018, studying under the coaches of Zishan Ugurlu, Cecelia Rubino, Elena McGhee, and Neil Greenberg, closing out his time with a capstone project identifying the nuances of racism and prejudice towards BIPOC in the 1960s juxtaposed with present-day societal norms, highlighted by the experiences posed in the 1964 play Dutchman by Amiri Baraka (formerly known as LeRoi Jones.) Growing up in a musical family, his music leads with versatility, not necessarily ascribing to one specific sound. His first EP, Inertia, was released in October 2020, leading with the song 'Slow,' and an accompanying music video for 'Talking My Shit.' It is currently available on all streaming platforms here. His new project, Odyssey, releases April 7th, and includes close collaborators such as Nich ‘S!lky’ Jones, Zach Wolf, JaneLovesU!, SHUAH, Mister JT, Aja Adam, and more. His more recent work expands outside of just music and film. As a side passion, he has done photography and retouching work, photography for engagement proposals, the Soho Design Arts District, socials for Phantom Fit, The New School, and more. Other work includes Assistant Director work for music videos such as Selfish - Lillimure; artist talks and curatorial efforts with Nikki Williams, B. Hawk Snipes; showcase hosting with local underground artists such as the Cureraiders; social media collaborations with Oscar Massin Jewelry, Hemp Hop, CLCKR, Ursa Live, and more.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Reuben.
Hi, Reuben! You recently released your new single/album/EP/video. Can you give us a little backstory?
Yes! I released my project, Odyssey, in April and I’m very proud of it. I always like to have an intention behind a project, to tell a story, and to have a theme. My intention for Odyssey was to take the listener to an ‘odyssey’ through an alternate audio universe. I wanted to try to take it away from our current plane of existence. I often make music and want it to feel like we’re in space. I started working on it right after I finished my first project, Inertia, and wanted it to be something that was unique, genuine, and thought provoking. I also wanted to signify this project as the beginning of my journey as a musical artist. There are seven songs on the project, four of which I produced myself. I like to create some sort of track listing as I go, as that allows me to figure out what song works with another- whether that be the way the songs start and end, or the message of the song, so on and so forth. It also allows me to reconfigure when I create a new song or get a new beat. The sequencing in a project is so important and it really lets you convey the story you’re telling. Odyssey touches on themes of love, lust, psychosis, trauma, confidence, repeating patterns, and individuality. Although there are many danceable moments in the project, its core is electronic R&B with an ensemble of major hyperpop, drill, and funk elements with a nostalgic late 90s, early 00s inspired sound, juxtaposed with my personal sense of what music will sound like in the future.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I’m inspired by so many people! This is always a hard question for me because I think every artist that I listen to influences me in a way. I’d say for this project, I was inspired by The Neptunes, Justin Timberlake, Tinashe, Kaytranada, Timbaland, Mac Ayres, Giorgio Moroder, Beyoncé, and SOPHIE. Of course there are so many other artists but I do think those that I listed really helped me shape the vision of this project. Giorgio Moroder is probably one of my biggest influences, he’s shaped a whole genre of dance music and really ushered it into the mainstream, plus he’s a genius.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
Absolutely. Usually when I get writer’s block I try not to get upset about it, because I often know I have something else to say or contribute. I usually just let it pass and when I get inspired, I follow that instinct and let it come naturally. I try not to force anything because if it’s forced it’s not authentic.
What do you hope fans take away from your music?
I hope they take away that I am always going to be authentic in my music and that it’s important for me to experiment with different sounds and genres. I also hope they understand that every song I write, whether it be complex, simple, or intricate, they all have a meaning and they all come from some place. It may not always be my story, but they all come from something relative. I want people to resonate with it and be able to have a song shape an experience or a memory in their lives.
Is there a certain song you really resonate with? If so, which one and why?
As of right now, I’d definitely choose my song ‘Back to Me.’ I wrote it early in 2021 and revisited it when I was really getting close to putting the project all together and finalizing it. It was originally very mellow and sad but I thought, why not turn that into something that people can dance to! I wrote it from a very dark place, I was very depressed and feeling the weight of the world, and I just didn’t feel like myself. I was missing who I was. I think we all have moments that we wish we were feeling like we used to, when we felt on top of the world, so on and so forth. This year has been a very transitional year for me and I’ve had many major highs and major lows, and it takes a toll on my mental health, and there were so many times this year I didn’t quite feel like myself. I’ve had tons of anxiety, my parents both became gravely ill around the same time, my father passed, and I decided to take many leaps of faith regarding my career. I’m so grateful I did but it does come with a cost. Even now, I still want to get back to me. I know I will, but I do think I’m on my way back now. We’ll see!
If you weren’t a recording artist working in the music industry, what other career
choice do you think you may have chosen?
I actually wanted to do something in the astronomy field. I think that might be why I’m so into the space theme. I enjoy learning about the planets, our solar system, all of the galaxies, light years and many of the other celestial beings that are out there. I think it’s really fascinating how vast, expansive and infinite our universe is. Neil deGrasse Tyson is pretty cool too.
What are some of your hobbies outside of music? I love astrology! I’ve been interested in it since high school, before it became mainstream the way it is now. I also enjoy exploring, I love seeing new places and experiencing new cultures and ways of life. I don’t play video games as much as I used to but they’re a great pastime and they allow me to escape a little bit from everyday life. I’m also truly a huge transit nerd. I love trains, I really do. Actually, I just love not staying in one place. I’ll hop in a zipcar and go driving around just because.
What question would you ask your future self? How is it and am I happy?
Are you currently binge watching any shows or have any recommendations?
Right now I’m obsessed with Claim to Fame, Abbott Elementary, and You. I have a few other shows that I watch, but I also love documentaries. I would absolutely recommend Claim to Fame! I tell people about it all the time. It’s not a doc, but right now they’re on season two and there are 12 contestants. Each one has a celebrity relative and they have to guess who they’re related to. The winner wins $100,000 and the competitions remind me a lot of Big Brother. My favorite part of it is seeing all the clues and trying to figure out what everything means and who’s related to who.
Do you have any bucket list items you hope to cross off soon?
I have a list of places I want to visit. I don’t know when I will visit them but I do want to cross every city and country off that list at some point. I think it’s so important to see the whole world, or as much as I’m able to.