Reuel is a former Austinite who has been described as part musical nonconformist, part piano virtuoso. A classically trained concert pianist, he has come up with the innovative “modclass” (modern electrical classical) descriptive to describe his synthesis of classical and modern music. Reuel’s classical piano styling and improvisation has helped him to win numerous national piano competitions, performing his classical and original compositions across the United States and occasionally in Europe. He performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City after winning first place in the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition.
Reuel, now a Las Vegas resident, is premiering his video First Snow here on AMFM Magazine. The song was produced and arranged by Reuel for the new album by the same name. His friend, and co-producer, Jordan Kolar, mixed the album and added digital percussion and electronic effects. The piano tracks were recorded live, with Austin’s Tosca String Quartet adding orchestral sweetening to the title track “First Snow” and solo cello to “Silent Night.” First Snow was described as “a delicate, haunting tune with sweet string arpeggiations and whispery, lush vocals” when it premiered on Parade magazine
We spoke to Reuel about the making of First Snow, interview follows the video.
AMFM: You moved from Austin to Las Vegas, how is that working out for you?
REUEL: As soon as I moved, I got a record label from Austin interested in me, so it’s not like I completely left because then I had a reason to be in Austin. Las Vegas has a lot of corporate events And shows that I perform internationally now. But the biggest thing about moving to Vegas would be the agencies.
AMFM: That has to be Raymond McGlamery and Lucky Hound music, right?
REUEL: Raymond had been planning to have me make the move already because he had been managing me in Austin for six years already. He was getting the career going in Vegas by building a show with my brand of classical crossover hybrid music. Then I got an agency in Las Vegas to sign me and I worked on cruise shows internationally which started me on a whole other trajectory of live performance Instead of trying to build one show. I really love working with this agency and everything Vegas is typically on a stage. In Austin I couldn’t find that so much for my style.
AMFM. And now you’re releasing First Snow, the title song from the Christmas album of the same name, can you tell me about that?
REUEL: It started from a solo piano piece that I had recorded when I was 18 years old. I sat down, played this piece of music, recorded it, and left it on my computer. Somehow two computer failures later, I mean hard drives and everything, this little piano melody still remained. I revived the piece last year, but in retrospect It was actually going to be just an instrumental. Then I decided to have a singer on it and have something original – something that maybe would give new life to the music of the Christmas season. When I was growing up Christmas music really mattered a lot to me. I would listen to a lot of Enya, a lot of Trans Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller etc. I listened to their amazing renditions of carols, which I grew up not really liking, until these artists took them elsewhere. In other words, I wasn’t really sold on Christmas music until I listened to these artists who did something different to them. So… that was the focus behind creating this music.
I wanted it to have a special meaning, because I love songs like Mary Did You Know. That song is modern, made in the 1990s, and it’s become a part of our Christmas playlist . So here I was thinking about trying to turn it into a single. All of a sudden, the tragedy in Las Vegas happened, where people were attacked by a gunman at a country music festival. The entire state was mourning. It was very recent, it still feels like just yesterday.
AMFM: Were you nearby?
REUEL: No I was at home with my girlfriend, but when we read the news I was in the process of working on this song and all of a sudden everything started clicking and fell into place . I wanted to make a song that honored these people that are now gone. It was a very emotional push behind the song. I hope maybe when the time is right, the families of the victims will hear this song and know that I wrote it because even though the victims may be gone, they’re still with us looking down from heaven or whatever spiritual place you think they might be. Looking down on the people that they love, sending them a sign that everything is ok and everything’s going to be fine. .. and one of those signs would be the first snow of every year.
AMFM: That’s a beautiful sentiment.
REUEL: Any of these terrible things that happen suddenly, like the shooting at the Jewish Synagogue.
AMFM: I agree, the world seems to have gone a little bit crazy, I hope it levels out soon. Your contributions of beauty are appreciated.
REUEL: I think we need a song that addresses those who were taken away suddenly. Those guns weren’t even pointed at them as individuals. It was just a…
AMFM: Wrong place, wrong time sort of thing.
REUEL: Yes. Denise Marquez wrote the lyrics. She is a very talented Las Vegas songwriter, currently in Nashville. She took the lyrics that I gave her and turned them into more poetic, symbolistic, simple works. The focus is on a person and another loved one who was taken away suddenly. They could be a brother, mother, or father – it’s very open-ended.
The video was a team effort, something greater than one individual.
I worked on the song with a co-producer named Jordan Kolar. He helped me with the percussion. I created the arrangement of the song, then I recorded with this amazing singer LaLa Vaughn. After Denise wrote the lyrics and the vocal melody, we took it to the next level. After we found this amazing singer LaLa, she recorded it in two days . We did it over the internet even though we’ve never met.
AMFM: Well these days you just drop a file in the computer and boom! Collaboration. It’s very efficient.
REUEL: Yes it is. People are comfortable when they record in their own home studio where they are happy. There’s a lot of trust that goes on. The flute solo was recorded by the amazing Chilean flautist Viviana Guzman. She’s based in San Francisco, and she travels like I do on cruise ships. I had met her before one of my shows. She recorded her contribution at home and gave it to me online, and that’s how we pieced it together. First Snow has multiple people from all over the world contributing to it. These are people that I’ve approached and said here’s the vision, here’s the sheet music can you add a little to this.
I’m very fortunate to have Lucky Hound music, they are an amazing label and I’m signed to their management team as well for the 484 Management group. That combination is very powerful because they have a studio out there (in Fishcher, Texas) and they have a production company that has amazing equipment like red cameras, light boxes, and a stage. The video production company is called Dragonfly Media and they work with Firefly sound company – they are really next level with their production facilities and also the way they treat their artists . I’m immensely grateful that I shot the video there thanks to a big effort by Lucky Hound.
We shot the video in a live sound stage, so we had to bring in furniture and a fireplace, and we also brought in fake snow with a snow machine. We brought in the actress, a local Austinite. She really got into the story.
The storyline is a lady has a younger brother, who unfortunately, who has is no longer with us. It’s before Christmas, and she’s going around the house looking at things. She sits down with a photo album, and looks at pictures of her brother and herself, the page turns and there is a newspaper clipping of a school shooting.. Everything starts to come together at that moment. You don’t really know what’s going on until then, and suddenly everything starts to make more sense. Her brother had left her a present for Christmas, and she sees his present under the tree – it’s a little snow globe. The backstory is she and her brother used to make snow angels . that’s his special memory of the holidays with her . You see her parents walk in, then the camera zooms down to a snow angel. It’s a moment during the first snowfall where he shows them a snow angel so he can show them that he’s okay.
AMFM: It’s a beautiful video. Kudos to everyone on your team, but of course first credit goes to you, it’s an incredible song.
The video was Directed by Chris Sibley, and produced by Lucky Hound Music and filmed at Dragonfly Media Studios. Actors in the video include: Rebbeca Adelson—“Bella,” Roger Vidal- “Father,” Kay Harry- “Mother,” Jackson McGlamery- “Brother,” Kylee O’Donnell- Flute, Megan Chartier- Cello, Samantha Stewart- Violin, Sarah Modisette- Choir, Cassie Moczygemba- Choir, Lindsey Cadenhead- Choir.
First Snow can be found at:
Fischer Apple Music: https://apple.co/2xD5M1j
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/2QOFkdP
REUEL Website: http://reuelmusic.com
Lucky Hound Music Website: http://luckyhoundmusic.com