Q&A with Reina Williams
The musician speaks out about her time on The X Factor and her new album.
Photo by: Chris Jennings
Reina Williams, a Baltimore native turn New York-based musician has been writing music since she was 11 years old, but she still doesn't subscribe to any one style. Growing up with her mom singing Opera, Williams infuses all genres into her music, and she's not only a singer-songwriter, but she's also a rapper and producer. Williams' passion for music extends beyond rhythm and beats, she wants to use her music to communicate the human experience, moving people by touching their souls and helping contribute to the positive energy shift that she feels in the world right now. A great singer, musician and role model, we were excited to talk to Williams about her recent release of The Mixtape, her experience on The X Factor and her upcoming album.
What inspired you to make a mixtape?
I had been thinking about doing a mixtape for a couple years, but I was really trying to pick songs and figure out what I was going to do and then after the thing with The X Factor happened, it kind of just lit a fire under me and I was just really extra inspired by that whole transaction and how it went down.
A lot of people think that you got kicked off The X Factor because of your gender expression and sexual orientation. Do you think that was the case?
I don't know what the reason was for them to send me home because they didn't give me a reason. I was dealing with a lot of feelings surrounding that afterwards. The mixtape was saving me from going crazy — because you're not only dealing with music, but you're dealing with TV business. What I said in the third verse of "Who I Am: [is how I feel about what transpired]. It started with, 'I don't have to wear dresses. I don't have to wear makeup. Gender perceptions are made up, enslave us.' Because that's really how I feel when it comes down to it. Today I even tweeted something. I said, 'If you knew my gender, would that make you like my music better? Would it make my music better? I don't think so.'
You mentioned that your upcoming album is continuing the themes explored in "Who I Am" and "Let It Flow." Can you tell me more about what that means?
I know that I'm here with a specific purpose and the purpose is to have music be a way to express what all of us are kind of feeling right now. There's this energy that's kind of shifting. So the album is really going to be telling the human story. I think the closest thing reminiscent of it is The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and how honest that album was and how open and exposed she was and the writing and everything came together and it all made sense. And it spoke to everyone. That's really gonna be the string that ties the album together. It's like that humanness.
You've been talking a lot about the human experience. Would you say your life philosophy influences your music?
Absolutely, I feel like I can't write something that doesn't have meaning or purpose. I've always been the center of attention my whole life as far as like, when I go some place people are always staring at me because they're trying to figure me out. Are you a guy? Are you a girl? Are you black? Are you white?
So as far as that influencing my music, I think that has just kind of woven in. You know, like I can't help but speak on life and living and trying to cope with my own stuff. Because authenticity I think is what keeps people like Lady Gaga working and kept Madonna working for so long. Lady Gaga has always been weird, even before she became Lady Gaga. Being authentic, people can smell it on you. And they can spot a phony a mile away, so you have to be real. And really, the universe is going to look out for you, if you're being true to what your purpose is. (reinawilliams.com)