March 6, 2019
In the ever-elusive search for what makes artists tick, part of the investigation has always been a look to what these creators were doing before they were who we know them to be now. The discovery of those sounds of yesteryear generally tends to shed a bright light on the kind of music they make now, for better or worse. Regardless of whether those ancient EPs and demos were laughably bad or, as the local coffee-shop critics prefer to insist, the best material they ever released, the result can be surprising. In the case of Deion Reverie, an artist who Charlotte knows primarily as a through-and-through R&B singer, he’s decided to save the historians the trouble of hunting down his older work. His latest release, a 14-track story piece by the name of Kill Me With Your Closure has brought his earlier influences to the forefront of his current sound.
Between his 2018 EP Sex Tape and the 2017 release of Justbehappy, Reverie had firmly set his feet in the foundation of hip-hop, R&B, and a deeply electronic sound. With the new record, he’s chosen to defy the one-trick-pony pitfall by incorporating sounds from an era that has long since been left behind. The album combines light distortion, fast pace, and soprano singing with scream vocals of alt-pop-rock groups like Emarosa, Sleeping With Sirens, and Pierce the Veil, mixed with his more modernized style that has consistently pulled influence from The Weeknd, DJ Koze, and Kanye West. The result is certainly interesting, if even a little hard to swallow.
Instead of attempting to mix the vastly separated genres congruently into one song, Reverie structured this album as a kind of two-for-one experience. The first half of the record is entirely set in that antiquated rock-pseudo-emo sound, while the latter half pulls a full 180, transforming into the straightaway R&B that audiences have come to know as his calling card. Reverie’s comments on this paralleled structure revealed a little as to how the young artist wanted this record to tell his tale.
“Deciding to split it was a tough decision. By doing that, I did break up the story, which is way out of order. It almost plays out like a Tarantino movie at this point, where everything is kind of scrambled. It feels like the album flows better this way,” he said. “It’s like it has an A-Side and a B-Side.”
The story that Reverie is referring to is a classic tale of love and loss. This motif pervades the album and the heartbreak resonates most deeply in the lyrics; while some of the songs can verge on spiteful, certain others come across as flat-out hateful. Nevertheless, the narrator’s love for the subject and the resulting ache is palpable. Conforming the story into a beginning, middle, and end does require some light puzzle-solving as Reverie mentions in his comments, but the necessity to focus on each song does lend a level of intrigue to the album.
When an artist separates an album into a binary of genre like Reverie has with Kill Me With Your Closure, the reception is bound to be uncertain. But how did he make the decision to make a record with these rock songs on it, seemingly defying his current persona?
“The funny thing is that I used to do this [rock] stuff for a while, before I made the switch to R&B. On the album, the third track ‘Closure’ was written and recorded in 2012. Now most people don’t know my music before 2015 or 2016, when I made that switch. All my close friends and some locals have my stuff from 2009-2012. I ended up taking it down [in 2012] because I didn’t feel it was received well. That’s when I started reshaping and rebranding,” he said. “[Closure] is the earlier work. It feels good to be doing that sound again. I didn’t expect the first half to be received as well after ‘Closure’ was rejected, but now I’m getting a lot of [positive] feedback on it. Like, I was doing this ten years ago and nobody cared. So, it feels good to be doing me and doing what I love and having it received so well.”
The shift of this record is jarring, to say the least, going from the completely unorthodox to the comfortable new normal at a breakneck pace – but is it successful? Can this sound that was popularized among the sub-genres of the rock world nearly a decade ago coexist peacefully with a genre like smooth, electronic R&B in such a drastic context? According to Reverie, the answer is yes. While the transition may not exactly be subtle, it seems to have brought together two far-separated fanbases inexorably. Reverie expounded on this phenomenon. “People are saying ‘I don’t even listen to rock, but the first half of the album is so good’ – then other people are like, ‘I don’t like rap and R&B but I love the second half.’”
As for the explanation, perhaps listeners that used to thrive in those older rock sounds are feeling the warm embrace of nostalgia alongside the solid production quality and song-writing ability. Perhaps this record will come to serve as a gateway between genres, mirroring the effects of records by other artists such as nothing.nowhere and Lil Peep, who combined traditional emo-stylings with rap and hip-hop, igniting a revolution in both the rap and rock worlds. Whatever this record may come to pass as, Reverie is excited for the future. As he discussed what would be coming next for him, the possibilities seemed endless.
“My music-making changes with whatever I’m feeling. I’m not going to say I’m heading in whatever direction, because it’s never like that. Everything’s always shaken up a little bit.” He continued: “I feel like I opened that door to do whatever I want musically, and it feels really good. I don’t know which direction anything is going. I don’t know what’s next. I’ve been working on electronic stuff, I’ve been working on acoustic stuff. I’m just glad I can make whatever I want and not feel like I have to make a certain sound.”
Whichever shape Deion Reverie’s music takes from here, he seems more open than ever to experimenting with new sounds. In the current musical landscape, it seems that any crossover is not far out of reach, and Reverie seems hell bent on pushing that envelope to its limit. Only time will tell what’s coming down the pike from the Charlotte crooner but, without a doubt, it will defy any and all expectation.
Listen to the album Kill Me With Your Closure by Deion Reverie.