Photo Credit: Ben Sherrill
Written by Kelly Holm
If you have the Cyrus virus, it would be well worth it to check out Rence. The 21-year-old star recently collaborated with Noah Cyrus on the single “Expensive,” whose music video features a very cute dog. But, after finishing his degree at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Rence is more than ready to forge a name of his own. Surrounded by fellow students who put passion into their craft, he realized that he, too, wanted to make music his life.
“I performed in Seattle as Jackson Hirsh, or a number of other aliases,” Rence says. “My first real Rence show was my debut at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn… after my first tour, I can definitely say this was the most nervous I’ve been for a show.”
The Emerald City native released his first EP, Pink, last year, and is now back with a second, appropriately titled Fall 2019.
“On Fall 2019 I really tried to capture a moment in time in my life, whereas Pink was a collection of songs I had been working on for a while,” Rence said. “Themes of loss, pain and struggle ring through both.”
One standout track on the new release is “Darker,” featuring Chris Miles.
“For the live version, we pitched down the background vocals and instruments… like a smooth, backroom version that you can sink into, rather than the upbeat version you hear on Spotify,” Rence relays. “I think it’s my favorite because it’s a great example of how we can take a song and turn it into a version that plays even better live.”
Playing favorites is tough, however. Rence also prizes “I Know” due to its universality in his life.
“It simultaneously feels like a song I wrote this year and when I was 16,” he says.
Rence is no stranger to collaboration. Besides Cyrus and Miles, he’d love to partner with Rosalia on a song as well, and recently made the transition from solo life to signed life; he’s now attached to Epic Records.
“I think the biggest change is welcoming… new people onto my team [and] into parts of my decision-making process,” he says. “When I first began, it was just me deciding to release a song. Then it was me and a manager… now it’s my internal team and my larger team at Epic. All of these new people bring such a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.”
Though affiliation with a major label might make the creative process more bureaucratic, it definitely provides its perks when it comes to publicity.
“Getting people to care enough to even listen to a song by someone they’ve never heard of when the market is so saturated is really difficult,” Rence says. “You have to give people a reason to care even before they know anything about you.”
The gratitude Rence feels for those who do care enough to listen is unmistakable, though.
“All [the compliments] I’ve received that revolve around ‘I was in a really dark place and your music lifted me out of it’ are the ones that hit me in the heart the hardest,” he says.
He advises others who wish to follow in his path to give hours and hours of dedication to networking and honing their musical talents before “blasting it out like crazy.” And although success is made up of bittersweet moments, the climb to stardom never seems to truly peak.
“I’m making my family proud and my friends smile,” Rence says. “But, I want Kanye at my show in the Louvre. GOALS.”