We had the good fortune of connecting with Reina Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Reina, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Well, right now I am smack in the middle of re-calibrating my equilibrium. Haha That being said, I have had a see-saw-like relationship between work and life balance. To put things in context, I will be turning 40 in Sept and only in the past 6 months have I found my courage to actually set rules for myself about balancing my life and work.
In 2012, like many creatives with a dream and a U-Haul. I moved to Brooklyn, NY from Baltimore. My mom had given me a bit of money to take care of expenses because she supported me pursuing my dreams at the next level. To spite reeling with anxiety, a protective ego-shell, and selfish pride, I managed to make some amazing connections and land some pretty great gigs with other musicians who were also taking advantage of the opportunities that NY offers. I also got comfortable with the fact that I didn’t have to struggle to pay my rent for some time, and subconsciously, I got lazy and my dreams no longer had an actionable sense on urgency.
Even with the weight of rent and living expenses temporarily lifted, I still felt like it was juggling and struggling. Any music project I got was pushed off until the last minute because there was always a party to go to, or someone to hang out with. I put undue pressure on myself to socialize and it caused me to create a scenario in my mind where i was constantly thinking about “I should be working on music” . . but then my head said “I cant grind ALL the time, I will get burnt out”. And this has been the loop, for 20 years.
Honestly, I got tired of feeling stuck. That loop will have you doing “busy work” instead of manifesting new and wonderful creations. That loop has you talking yourself out of every opportunity that takes more effort than your baseline. I would beat myself up regularly for not doing this or that, or comparing myself to others. Its all a BS trap created by my mind that kept me stuck.
Many of our reasons for viewing life and moving in a certain way come from the things we tell ourselves about stuff that hasn’t even happened yet, based on how things went in the past.
Just for today, I have to actively choose balance, and be ok with giving myself permission to stop when im tired. To remind myself that the reason I am so busy is because people value my work. I give myself gentle reminders that this is exactly what I wanted and that I can handle anything. It is also OK to allow others to help. The coolest thing of all is that being a creative person means that even when we are not working on something, our minds and brains are taking in everything and those observations and experiences only enrich our creative output when the time comes.
How do I achieve balance, taking everything one day at a time and remember to be kind to myself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Hmmm what sets me apart from others? I don’t think im special or necessarily better than anyone. We are all different, correct? Haha It’s more a feeling of knowing that wherever I go, I stand out. From my appearance, to my personality, to my performances. I’m memorable without me trying to be. My singing voice has different textures that are so unique to me, and my rapping voice cuts through everything. That scene from the Ray Charles biopic where he was left to sing Margie’s background vocals actually inspired me to not be afraid to sing every part of my vocal harmonies and change my voice sometimes so it sounds like different people. I went to recording school after high school for the sole purposes for learning how to record myself and produce music on my own.
I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m finally getting out of my own way and respecting the process of it all. Nothing happens overnight and no one is just going to come find you because YOU know you’re dope.
I got to where I am today as far as publishing and songwriting by creating music that fits with what gets used in TV and film, while staying true to myself and learning how to self-edit without taking it personal. As creatives, we tend to have an emotional attachment to everything we put our creative energy into. Learning how to roll with critique and having humility was key for me. Again, reminding myself that I am being hired to create music because the publisher loves and trusts what I do. “Ive done this before, I can do it again”. There is no limit to my creative flow unless I put it there myself.
Showing up for opportunities when they popped up is the other way that I got to where I am. Early in my music journey, I had been making a ton of beats that i didn’t really have a plan for at the time. My Dad knew a guy who knew a guy (hahaha) who had a small publishing company whose business was getting songs placed in TV and Film. I got an appointment, walked in to the studio office with a CD full of my beats, and walked out with a check. That was in 2002. Twenty years later I have written/composed nearly 200 songs and instrumentals that have garnered over 400 placements and counting.
It became easier over time once I got a system down for creating entire songs from top to bottom, most of the time by myself. Meaning from writing the lyrics and melody, to creating and composing the beat/music, to recording all the vocals, then if the client asks, I will do a mix of the song so all the elements blend together.
The funny thing is that now, after basically 20 years working with various publishers, currently still working with BMG and expanding to BMG UK, im really ready to take my performing artist career to the next level. The balance thing has always been tilted towards how am I going to make money doing what i love. The “quickest” way for me was publishing because my creativity is self-contained and there was not the added pressure of branding and marketing myself as an artist. I could make songs and sell them.
What i have learned on this journey is that as long as we neglect to heal the parts of ourselves that manifest as self-sabotage, we will stay angry and stuck. Being super talemted is one thing. Having imposter syndrome, anger issues, anxiety, emotional regulation difficulties all makes things hard as f**k when you identify yourself as being all of those things. Now that i have really done the hardest work which is on how i see myself and how i move though the world, I feel actual confidence.
My “brand” is life’s story. The story of being human and the ways that we tend to be devoted to our suffering instead of realizing that we have an immense amount of power and control over the most important process in humanity. Our own thoughts. I exist to share medical grade music, because it heals me every time I write from that authentic place from which I allow my highest self to shine though.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well shit! I’m in the perfect area to cover some ground and hit multiple things, you talmbout we have a week. Living in North New Jersey, im 30 minutes from NYC, an easy train ride to Philadelphia, and about 2 hours from Jersey Shore and Atlantic City.
For our New York day we are absolutely going to Chinatown to get some fancy Chinese food at Hwa Yuan. They have THE BEST cold sesame noodles in the city and the entire experience from the food to the ambiance is definitely worth the money. After that we going to get one hour massages then finishing off the day with an egg custard bun from one of those Chinese bakery’s. Don’t worry, we will walk it all off when we walk across the Brooklyn bridge at night. That is a great way to see the east side perspective of the city skyline.
Philly day trips are super fun. I’m a bit of a weirdo so we would hit up the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum and take the audio guided tour which i hope is still narrated by Steve Buschemi. The if we are still on creepy street we might as well head over to the Mutter Museum which has cadavers, skeletons, and dead things in jars. If this is my BFF, they gonna be stoked to see an embalmed anything. Afterwards we would go to south street and get cheese steaks from Ishkabibble’s.
We would save Atlantic City for the weekend. You already know its all about the boardwalk and Caesars Palace buffet that has king crab legs unlimited on Sunday’s. Wildwood, NJ is a skip north and has another boardwalk and beach area with roller coasters, a water park, cool bars, and those little shops where you can buy floppy hats and over priced novelty t-shirts.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Universe and Family for starters of course. Feeling and knowing I am fully supported by those that love me most is pretty wonderful. My amazingly creative partner Bianca Dagga, who has never given up on me, even when I was pretty tough to be around. She has recently really stepped up to helping me really put myself out there. In fact, she is the reason I am doing this interview.
Quest Love’s book “Creative Quest” has really helped me to recognize that artists are ALWAYS creating and that the whole world is inspiration. We should take time to STOP writing and go out and experience life. Such a powerful yet simple shift in perspective.
Last but certainly not least is the divine timing of me discovering who Sadhguru is. The wisdom this man has about life has also caused a profound yet familiar shift in me. When I hear him talk, its like being reminded of what I already knew from a lifetime ago. I appreciate his dedication to humanity and to Mother Earth. Save Soil!
Linkedin: Tatiana “Reina” Williams
Chris Jay Jolie Blue (couch shot)