2019 has been a huge year for breakout R&B sensation R.LUM.R. After his single “Frustrated” went viral (it currently has 51 million plays on Spotify), R.LUM.R worked tirelessly, putting out an EP and several singles. This year, he signed to Island Records, and recently released his debut album, Surfacing. We spoke to R.LUM.R about this new chapter of his career, and how it has impacted his work.
You made your major label debut this year with your first full-length album, Surfacing. Were there any unexpected challenges or benefits that came with moving from being independent to being on a major label?
Island has been really helpful in the process of facilitating my ideas. We came to them with the record basically done, and were pretty adamant about how we wanted to release things and what songs would be on it, and I recall expecting some pushback, but after speaking directly with Eric Wong and Darcus Beese, they simply gave me the OK. It feels really good to have them trust my vision so wholeheartedly. They’ve really been nothing but helpful in this process.
On Surfacing, you had a hand in writing every single song on the album. What’s your songwriting process like, and did that process change at all when working on Surfacing?
The collaborations were a lot more focused on this one. I mainly worked with The Gifted on the production side. I loved that they do such a good job of creating the space in studio for me to go wherever I need to musically. It felt natural.
When writing this album, did you have a specific idea or theme you wanted to explore, or did the album come together after writing a variety of songs?
I do think I knew I wanted to talk a lot about mental health, but I wasn’t really sure what the perspective on it would be at first. I feel like after “Middle of The Night” and “Surfacing” came, those were the definitely the things that gave me direction, and as I kept writing, “Surfacing: became the true nucleus around which everything else began to orbit. Once I found that, I kinda had my orientation, and the rest was just a matter of filling in blanks.
What accomplishments are you most proud of from the past decade?
Way too much to list here in an article. I’ve honestly been pretty lucky.
Talk to me more about the Framily. What are some of the core values you have when it comes to cultivating and fostering your fan community?
Calling them a “fan community” seems so sterile, so I don’t do that. That said, I would love people who listen to the music to think about empathy, the importance their mental health, the self, and what’s important to them. I just don’t want people to feel so alone.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Rod Kieser, one of my music teachers in high school, told me once that “no one comes to a show to see you fail.” That makes me remember that people come to shows to be lifted and not to critique you. they come to see you be human and to be human themselves. humans aren’t perfect. So I just go up there and be who I am.
Listen to R.LUM.R’s album Surfacing, and follow him on Spotify.
R.LUM.R will be hitting the road on a nationwide tour in early 2020. Check to see if R.LUM.R is coming to your city!