Washington-bred, Los Angeles-based artist Reo Cragun is having a moment. With a lot of new artists, these moments seem to come out of nowhere, and a lot of new artists aren't prepared for that moment when it arrives. Reo has been working toward this moment for years, through hard times and let-downs, and he's ready for what's next.
And if today is any indication, the next steps are going to be big ones. Since late last year he's built up buzz and credibility with a strong series of singles starting with 2016's "Inconsiderate," but it's hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the release of his new Growing Pains mixtape than with the music video for "On My Way," which we're proud to premiere on Pigeons & Planes today.
The word "epic" gets thrown around too much, but the "On My Way" video is truly epic. It's a powerful video that places Reo Cragun against some of nature's most formidable scenery, and Reo holds his own. The combination of song and video exudes determination and confidence that only comes with knowing what it's like to struggle.
"Nothing good ever comes easy," Reo tells us about his budding career. If that's so, this video must have been a massive challenge, but it paid off and serves as one hell of an introduction. Watch it below, listen to Reo's Growing Pains mixtape, and read our interview to learn a little more about an exciting new artist on the verge of enjoying some hard-earned attention and success.
Is Reo Cragun your real name? If not, where did it come from?
Yes, Reo Cragun is my official government name. Growing up I always understood that it was unique, so I just decided to keep it as my stage name as well.
Can you tell us a little about your life growing up and the things you've been through? How did those things affect you?
Everyone faces their own battles growing up, and one of mine was growing up with my dad not being around. My mom and my auntie rose me so I was brought up in an all female household. I also have six half sisters on my dads side that didn't live with me but I spent a lot of time with so there was a lot of female influence in my life. I'm also the only boy, so I guess that's why my appreciation for women is so high.
You've been open about some of the adversity you've faced. Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up or felt like maybe music wasn't going to pan out?
There have been times where I felt like a lot of people wanted me to give up, but I'm not one to quit on things I feel so strongly about. I know that the world needs to hear my story so that's really kept me going. I've definitely felt discouraged though, especially during times where things were moving slow, but I've always had a strong mindset of persevering and on top of that a great support system of family and friends that've kept me balanced.
A lot of those hard times seem to lead to your best music. Why is that?
In my opinion, the brightest lights come from dark places, and the music is sometimes a reflection of that. I document those personal life events in the music not only because it's therapy for me, but in the hopes that it'll help other people get through things that they're facing. Acts like Linkin Park and Kid Cudi did that for me as a kid, and I feel that it's my calling to do the same.
the brightest lights come from dark places, and the music is sometimes a reflection of that. I document those personal life events in the music not only because it's therapy for me, but in the hopes that it'll help other people get through things that they're facing.
What's the vibe like when you're recording? "On My Way" is so powerful to me because I can hear something really honest in your voice. Like, I can feel what you're saying more than just something that sounds cool. How do you get in that headspace? Are you alone or with other people when you're recording?
I usually am by my self or with a very select few people. I don't like large sessions because I feel like they're counterproductive. Most of the time when writing a song I visualize myself in a past situation and just start painting the words. "On My Way" was about 70% freestyled.
The "On My Way" video is incredible. Where did you shoot that and how did the concept come about?
To be honest, my homie who directed it pitched a treatment after my creative director and I told him the vibe that we needed for the record. I already knew I wanted to go home, so we shot it in Washington state.
What was making that video like? Was it all done in one day?
The video was a mission. It took five full days of shooting to knock out because not only were we hiking for the majority of those days to get to locations, but we shot the whole thing on a film camera so we had to be very selective with shots. These days you see rap videos with old school vintage film filters, which is cool, but we wanted to bring an authenticity to that concept to reflect how real the song is.
I have to ask about the falling scene. How was that done? What are you falling into?
A magician never reveals his secrets. Shout out to Brendan Vaughan, the director, for the falling concept though.
I've always been so eager to learn and to progress and push myself that I don't know if inspiration could ever leavE ME. without it, I don't believe I could function properly. My heart would most likely quit beating.
So you come from Vancouver, Washington but recently moved to LA to do music full-time. What has that transition been like? Did things start to come together right away once you moved?
LA is completely opposite from Vancouver. It took me a long time to adjust to the difference when I first got out here, but I feel like it's definitely my home now. Things took about a year and a half to get the ball rolling, and on top of that there was blood, sweat, and tears. Nothing good ever comes easy.
Are you ever worried that once you "make it" you won't be as inspired to create?
No, I don't think I could ever lose this drive that I have. I've always been so eager to learn and to progress and push myself that I don't know if inspiration could ever leave me. Like I said, this music is therapy to me so without it, I don't believe I could function properly. My heart would most likely quit beating.
Tell us a little about the Growing Pains mixtape and what it represents to you.
Growing Pains is symbolism for evolution. I had to go through a lot of real life experiences to create this project and there was a whole lot of trial and error that came along with that. I speak on things like love, heart break, death, and happiness, which are situations that have shaped me into the man I am today.
I'm looking forward to playing more shows and creating more hits. Those are really the only things that I have on my agenda other than meeting new people and spreading positive vibes.
What else do you want people to know about Reo Cragun right now?
I'm hungry, and you can count on me being around for a long time. I love making music and the fans that have come along from it. I'm stoked to share this project with you and there's a lot more where that comes from! Still have a hundred ready to go.