Reign Lee
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Reign Lee

Brussels, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium | INDIE

Brussels, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium | INDIE
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Feb. 20, 2012
By Thlayli

After an absence of several months, Reign Lee made a welcome return to once again grace the stages of Hong Kong. At the Social Media Underground Reign was somehow a little different from the Reign I knew before - perhaps on account of having Freddie Gunn (of Shotgun Politics, or “Orgasmic Freddie” as Reign called him) standing in as the drummer, who brought with him his brand of in your face, no holds barred goodness, against which Reign more than ably stepped up to meet full on. The end result was a set delivered with supreme confident, something which one has grown to take for granted when it comes to Reign, more powerful, edgy and intense, and yet darker than ever before (on the last point, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause). It was, however, a little erratic in places, which probably could be put down to a relatively new drummer, who has been known to get a little… erm… carried away from time to time. - The Underground HK


Reign Lee Interview
BC Magazine
March 17, 2011
By Shashwati Kala

Reign Lee might silently be taking over the world. Since releasing her current EP late last year, she has been booked to open for a couple of international acts while finding herself on the radar of some big-name radio stations. And she is preparing for an upcoming US tour. She talks to us about all that as well as a band called Odometer Destroyer.

When you released Angels in the Dirt last year, you had hinted that some new stuff was in the works – anything you’d be willing to dish about that?

Did I? I can’t remember! Talk about a brain-freeze. If you mean new material, I might have been talking about the fact that I have another EP ready to go, but it’s just a matter of finding the time to get everything down. If I had my way, I’d be recording constantly.

What’s the reaction to Angels in the Dirt been like?

Inspiring. You never know how a song or a record will be perceived because it’s all so subjective. Then of course, you can’t help but be emotionally attached to something you’ve created – particularly when it’s so personal. I was astonished to see that just after a couple months release it started to circulate and get picked up by radio stations like Radio UK International, Radio Basingstoke and Radio Crystal Blue in NYC. I think the biggest thing so far is a few weeks ago I found out that the editors of Blurt Magazine have added me to their ‘Favorites’ folder! I almost choked on my coffee when I read that!

You’ve also mentioned that recording it was a very positive experience for you.

That was my best recording experience by far. The main reason for that was this was the first time I walked into a recording experience knowing exactly what I wanted. I also lucked out by finding a co-producer who was completely onboard with the direction of the album. There can be a lot of conflict between songwriters and producers because everyone invested in the project is trying to shape it to their vision. But with Angels In the Dirt, it was one vision and I had complete creative control. It also helps that I worked with some of the most talented musicians to walk the earth!

You’ll be opening for the Besnard Lakes – how did that engagement come about? Any more such big shows?

The venue, Hidden Agenda contacted me and asked if I’d be able to do it. The Besnard Lakes are an awesome band, so I was very excited to be asked. Also, I’ve just found out Joseph Arthur is coming at the end of the month and I’ve been asked to open for his ‘secret show.’ It’s probably so secret I’m not even supposed to mention it. Oh well… But I’m a big Joseph Arthur fan, so it’s truly an honour.

In April, you and Melissa Cox leave for a tour with a killer name to the southwest of the US. What’s behind your ‘Odometer Destroyer’ tour?

Glad you like the name! We decided to call it ‘The Odometer Destroyer Tour’ because by getting to the US and travelling we will cover a total of more than 10,000 miles – not bad for an indie band. The idea for the tour came about after my last US tour. Melissa was in the audience at a show in Delaware and afterwards approached me about doing something together. It’s a bit of an experiment because we’re doing it as separate artists, but we’ll partner up for certain songs and certain shows, making use of mandolins, melodicas and loopers. Should be a lot of fun!

You began with the witty, lyrical Broken Skylines then, on to the heady dynamism of Holding Back the Beast, and now Angels in the Dirt is emotional and introspective. Did you have this kind of progression at the back of your mind, and where do you see it going next?

No, there was no master plan when I first started recording. I had no idea it would become such a genre-bending journey! But I love it. I like playing with my own expectations and other people’s perceptions, so I don’t see the progression stopping anytime soon. I see the next project being much more stripped down and introspective. I’d like to keep it more organic. I’m toying with the idea of camping out in a desert for a month and recording everything on a four-track. But I’m probably too much of a perfectionist for that. We’ll see…

You’ve definitely been busy through the past year, and that will continue for this year too. Do you ever find time just to relax and write music?

I find that writing happens in the calm within the storm. Always. I don’t like hectic living, but it’s kind of a necessity in today’s world, for everyone. After this tour, I’m planning to spend some time finding some peace in Beijing.

www.reignlee.com
- BC Magazine


There were confessions of girl-crushes and serious fandom expressed to me about Reign before her set. Dressed with flair as usual, there were also a number of comments about how enviable her coat with long tails was. She was accompanied in person by Thelma with percussion on a box, and some pre-recorded backing tracks. This was a clever move, as it really filled out the tiny gap left by her rich, deep voice and angsty guitarwork. Her lyrics are meaty and flowing, really making you think. There’s an attitude to her songs, but not in an obnoxious way - rather, it makes the songs edgy. And this isn’t the manufactured, customary edge that comes with heavily distorted and overdriven guitars; it’s derived from a genuine depth, and even darkness, to the songs overall. To add to all her musical credentials, she even killed a roach just before starting her set (and chided Greg)!

More than the other performers that night, she sang to complement her guitarwork - this was highlighted in Angels in the Dirt where her pithy lyrics tussled with the guitars to fill listening ears. It was also of note that she always sings in her full voice, especially in places that many female singers would have opted for a falsetto - just my opinion, but this approach makes the song more substantial. I Bleed was a new addition to her repertoire; a song that rests on the building-up process, it was added to significantly by the recorded piano and drumrolls. The unyielding yet somehow floating Don’t Close Your Eyes used a very classic chord pattern, made unique by their use in the song. Helena was the ruminating closer, with a sparse yet opulent soundscape, where the box-percussion flourished, ending her set on a pensive, somewhat atonal note.

– Shashwati
May 29, 2010 - The Underground


What can one say about Reign that hasn’t been said before in a review? She’s short.
For the uninitiated, Reign Lee sounds like a mix of Patti Smith meets P.J. Harvey, with a bit of Smashing Pumpkins thrown in – and so it proved at the Girls with Guitars show.
Billed as the special “secret” guest performer, Reign didn’t let the audience down with her usual passionate performance, driven by powerful, yet often harmonious acoustic chords. Musically she is immensely talented and her lyrics, intelligent but not overwhelming. One can almost feel when listening (and indeed watching) her perform that music is her lifeline, her blood, her heartbeat. From her opening song, she showed an angst and passion that seemed ready to boil over and explode – she showed this in all four songs she performed. Often, as I watched Reign perform, I thought about Thom Yorke who famously burst into tears after a very passionate recording of Fake Plastic Trees – it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if the same happened to her. She also interacted more in her opening chat with the audience than, unfortunately, the two previous acts before her did in their entire sets. And the audience responded in kind.
However, one senses that, though the audiences are there to listen and cheer her on, when Reign starts performing she enters her own world. A world where only the music matters. And that’s how I would sum up Reign: It’s all about the music.
– Joey Griffin - The Underground


I have said before that it’s very possible to make an EP as close to perfection as humanly possible. If anyone doubts this, they may well check out this EP, which is a shining example in favour of my hypothesis. The five songs are very different from each other in feel and sound, which is very much by design. Reign Lee has said that this has been her most satisfying recording experience to date, and it shows – each song’s musical state is highly realised, thanks to some deft touches made with a gentle hand, at the right moments in the instrumentation department. This, by the way, was a geographically opposite (or thereabouts) collaboration between her and musicians from (and in) LA, who clearly put a great deal of care into the songs. The vigilantly added synth bits balance out the more raw guitars just right, and allow the songs to form in your head, rather than force them there. They have flair and are yet focussed – avoiding the trapdoor of landing up with a sound confused between her ideas, and those of the producers and musicians. The product is an EP that is immensely listenable, similar in spirit to Switchfoot’s excellent album The Beautiful Letdown.
There’s something that’s different about the woman that wrote this album, because the lyrics (which are provided, huzzah!!) appear to be more bitter than they were in the past. This conclusion would, however, be a faulty one, because while the subject matter may be sorrow or anger, the lyrics tend to describe a situation rather than rail at it. Add to that the profound calm in her voice, and there’s almost a coolly detached air to it. One gets the feeling that the singer is at peace (maybe even in love with) her sadness, and there’s a very strong appeal to this kind of genuine bravado. While she has long written fine lyrics, they attain a sterling-quality in this set of songs – they’re still simple, but many phrases stick out as having been flawlessly expressed.
One wonders if it’s possible that her already-amazing singing could have gotten even better than it was before, because her voice sounds extra special. It’s probably due to the combination of setting and resources, along with fewer vocal layers; but whatever it is, it’s made her sound absolutely glorious. And yet, this awesomeness serves to somewhat embitter one when the five songs end all too quickly – personally, I could’ve listened to 30 songs all day if they sounded like these 5 do.
Angels in the Dirt starts off the EP in familiar territory with its rocking feel, and simple admission of dissatisfaction. In contrast to the other songs, there is almost nothing figurative about the song, and this makes its effect much more immediate. Sleeper Cars is a distinctly optimistic ditty, whose lyrics have the same endearing quality as Kris Lao’s tend to. While this is probably unintentional, it’s a nice quality to have all the same, as is the lyric ‘Spirits in descent, little tiny Cobains…’. I Bleed strongly evokes a feeling of denouement, and moves into the near-playful hook of In the Rain, whose style is something of a callback to the better female pop artistes of the 90s.
Which brings me to the rare juncture at which I can say that there was one clear standout for me – Blood Red River has everything going for it (along with sharing the name of awesome Aussie swamp-rockers The Scientists’ song). The lyrics, perfectly metered, add a unique texture and rhythm of their own, which the other instruments play off of, to create a captivating, reverberating, highly atmospheric number that rings in the head as soon as it begins. Some of the catchiest lyrics are reserved for this song, and the story they tell really lets you get caught up in it.
In essence, this is a very strong release that adds commendably to Lee’s body of work. But, be warned – it will likely leave you wanting more, so be ready to delve well-deep into her music, while having one of the lyrics from these songs stuck in your head.
– Shashwati Kala (Feb. 25, 2011) - The Underground


Variety is the spice of life, or at least the singer-songwriter’s newest EP, writes Mark Tjhung
Nov. 24, 2010

Reign Lee has been a bit of a journeywoman. Dressed like a rocker with washed jeans, paint-splattered boots, and a thin strip of pink in her dark-brunette hair, Lee is describing her rather nomadic life that’s seen her call Canada, Chicago, New York, Beijing, and, for the last decade, Hong Kong, home. “I don’t think I’d want anything to be permanent. I like travelling, and it’s the best thing in the world for me to do something where I can be travelling, and be in constant motion,” says the multi-instrumentalist-singer-songwriter, who toured the US and UK earlier this year.
In some ways, it sounds like her musical life to this point has been somewhat a journey as well – an experiment to find a sonic place she feels most comfortable. Over the past five years she’s released three albums that have varied radically in concept – from the early outings of her 2006 debut Open State, to the heavier, rock-focused offerings of 2007’s Broken Skylines, and the surprising electronic turn for the atmospheric EP Holding Back the Beast in 2008.
This fortnight, Lee launches her latest chapter on this musical expedition, Angels in the Dirt. “In the past, I was still figuring out a lot of my own sound,” she says. “I didn’t have the confidence to sit down with someone and say, ‘this is what I want’. This was the first time I felt I was able to do that.”
After experimenting with such a variety of genres over the years, this fourth release could have gone in any direction. But it seems that Lee’s approach has taken in every direction. “With this one, my only goal going into it was I wanted every song to sound different,” she says. Goal achieved. Produced in both Los Angeles and Hong Kong, each of Angels’ five tracks sit in rather different sonic spaces, from the lilting country-tinged tune Sleeper Cars to the floating waltz of I Bleed, and the anthemic In the Rain. The songs may all sound largely different, but throughout the disc, Lee’s songs exude a certain ominous, cinematic atmosphere that complements the ever-present themes of love, loss, death and angst.
Layered on top of all of this are Lee’s soulful lyrics – occasionally moody, occasionally fiery tones that ooze ‘classic rock front woman’. Perhaps that’s because she cites the likes of Patti Smith and Hole as some of her greatest influences. In fact, for Lee, seeing Courtney Love & Co. in Chicago was something of an epiphany. “In the late 90s, I’d just never seen anything like it,” she says. “I was one of those kids that [Courtney Love] pulled on stage, with bruises and cuts from the mosh pit. And I watched from the stage this sea of people in this field, and it was almost like inciting a riot. I’d never seen anything like it, let alone [from] a woman.”
Women’s issues are obviously close to Lee’s heart, with proceeds from her EP launch at Grappa’s Cellar going to benefit the Asian University for Women. “It’s about educating women, propelling the role of Asian women forward so that they’re empowered with the means to be leaders in their communities and make contributions to their cultural communities and the world,” says Lee. “It doesn’t get much better
than that.” - Time Out Magazine


Reign Lee oozes confidence, a reflection of not only her live music experience, but also the clear fact that she belongs on stage. Her set flowed well as a complete whole, creating a laid back but also up tempo atmosphere. Sue Sherman on lead guitar pushes forward the lyrics with intense solos and riffs. Reign’s voice is also a delight switching from powerful overtones, to soft melodic notes, all the way summoning the passion evident within her lyrics. ‘Helena’ was a favourite, evidently enjoyed by the large audience Reign Lee maintained throughout the set. Reign’s string of upcoming live events only serves to prove her consistent popularity and suitability in live music venues.

Aug.8, 2009
Heather Lowe
- The Underground HK


Local Noise
Oct. 14 - 21, 2009
By Hal B. Selzer

“I’m originally from Canada. I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but grew up in Alberta. We moved to Hong Kong when I was a teenager and I’ve considered it home ever since,” says singer/songwriter Reign Lee. Not only is Reign coming to New Jersey to perform, but she has a strong connection to the Garden State through both her band members and her management. “It was from this far-off land that I first came across Gene Foley,” she continues. “It’s amazing how small the world has become. Gene’s reputation for helping artists he believed in preceded him so I took a chance and submitted some material, hoping for some constructive feedback I could build on. His enthusiasm was overwhelming and he really helped me to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Gene has been instrumental in getting Reign attention, and he also helped her put together her solid backing band. “As a solo artist, when you need a band to back you up, you want them to be brutally good. So when I’m on the East Coast, my choice of bandmates is Kurt Wubbenhorst, Rob Struck and Ken Abel. They’re all from the band Westgate, although Ken’s no longer in that band. Westgate’s home base is Kinnelon, NJ.”
Reign has been able to tour around the world, getting to places most local artists can only dream of going. “All over!” she exclaims. “Although there’s been some places in far-off locations like Taipei and Beijing where I can’t even remember the name of the club anymore. But I’ve played all over Hong Kong, the U.S., and Canada. Some of the more notable places would be Kenny’s Castaways in New York City, Trash Bar in Brooklyn, The Rudyard Kipling in Louisville, KY and The Cowell Theater in San Francisco.”
Musically, Reign is an intriguing mix of singer/songwriter and distorted alternative rock. “It’s always hard trying to categorize what music sounds like,” she muses. “It seems a bit like asking a blind person to describe the colour of meringue. But it’s the nature of the beast, so I would say alt-singer-songwriter with a rock bite. There are rock elements and pop elements, but at the end of the day, I see myself primarily as a songwriter, although don’t expect any wispy ballads.”
Her influences are a clue to her eclectic sound. “There are probably too many to name,” Reign states. “I would say the most striking impressions have been left by the Pixies, Nirvana, Patti Smith, Gram Parsons, the Beatles, Heart, Bruce Springsteen, the Cars, Lucinda Williams, Guided by Voices, and Hole.”
The songs on her new CD, Broken Skylines, are both poignant and aggressive at the same time, a rare feat for any artist. And the music represents a view of the world cultivated from her unique background. “The name ‘Broken Skylines’ came from a song lyric,” she relates. “It wasn’t anything conscious but as the direction of the album became apparent, I realized that it represented a big part of my personal journey around the world. For whatever reason, it represents old endings and new beginnings. I think there was also some unconscious referencing to the fact that I left NYC after Sept. 11.”
Reign seems to be able to get her music across to a wide ranging audience. “We played a show in Lavale, Maryland, and I had no idea what to expect,” she recalls. “There was Lynyrd Skynyrd playing on the jukebox when we got there and everybody stopped when I walked into the bar. The other bands seemed to be metal bands and there were choppers parked out front. I just didn’t think my psycho-sexual lyric-heavy alt-rock was gonna fly here. But lo and behold, they went crazy for the set! Every single person bought a CD and merch and wouldn’t stop telling me how much they loved the show. Then one of the bouncers asked me if I’d sign a CD to his friend. He told me his friend would be so disappointed because he just went to jail that day and he was going to tell him he missed an awesome show. What a brilliant compliment!”
As far as the future, Reign is hoping to continue the journey she has started. “My main goal is to be able to sustain my career as a musician,” she says. “I want to be able to tour regularly, record and travel the world making music I believe in. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s getting easier. It’s also great to receive validation for what you’re doing and I think that the more I get of both, the closer I get to reaching my goals. I would also love the experience of seeing one of my songs grow and evolve to develop a life of its own.”
Reign will be appearing at The Saint in Asbury Park on Monday, Oct. 19 at 10:00 p.m. For more information about the show, and other upcoming events, check out reignlee.com and myspace.com/reignleemusic. - East Coast Rocker - The Aquarian Weekly


MUSIC
Nov. 5, 2009
Shaun Christensen

Reign Lee is a multi-cultural, multi-talented, Hong Kong-based multi-instrumentalist with an evocative and beautiful voice.

Photo provided
Hong Kong-based singer-songwriter Reign Lee perform an acoustic set Friday at Ugly Mugs Café in South Bend.
In concert

Reign Lee performs at 7 p.m. Friday at Ugly Mugs Café, 102 N. Main St., South Bend. Admission is $5. For more information, call (574) 288-5350.
"This tour has been going really well, I've been meeting great, supportive people who appreciate music, which makes a tour worthwhile," she says while in the midst of her first tour of the United States since 2007. "All of the traveling just allows me to do what I love and, hopefully, receive appreciation."

It is easy to believe that Lee's music is receiving appreciation from people wherever she goes, as she has lived nearly everywhere, absorbing bits and pieces of each culture along the way while she developed.

Lee was born to a European-Canadian mother and a Chinese father in Hamilton, Ontario, and has since lived, worked and studied in Alberta, Arizona, Beijing, Illinois, New York and Hong Kong.

"Coming from a diverse family and living in a wide range of places has had a big impact on me at an unconscious level. I have no doubt that it has helped shape me as a writer, songwriter, and musician," Lee says. "Anyone who does anything creative cannot help but be shaped by the influences of their environment. It has definitely colored the way I see the world, and, subsequently, how I write."

Throughout all of the moves in her life, crossing cultural and physical borders, music has remained a constant for Lee.

"I've always been drawn to music, even at a really young age. When I was 4 years old, I had my own little record player and I had four albums," she says. "They were 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson, '1999' by Prince and albums by The Go-Go's and The Stray Cats, and that is where it all started. I've always known music was what I wanted to do; in fact, it is all I can ever remember doing."

From these rock and pop roots, her musical tastes were fostered by the tastes of her music-loving parents, eventually growing to a love of all genres, especially alternative rock.

The influence of 1990s alternative rock is overtly apparent on Lee's 2007 album, "Broken Skylines," released on her independent label, Vereign Records. The album was recorded with Grammy Award-winning sound engineer John Seymour, who has worked with such acts as U2, Santana and Dave Matthews. The album has yielded Lee accolades and some critical acclaim.

Since 2007, she has immersed herself in other projects, including an electronica EP, "Holding Back the Beast," but the "Broken Skylines" album has been steadily gaining enough attention to merit an ambitious and intimate acoustic tour of the United States through 2010.

"This acoustic tour has given me a chance to rework and reinvent songs. It is quite a different experience than playing loud and being plugged in," Lee says. "I like the intimacy that comes from playing stripped-down shows."

This type of tour doesn't just fleetingly illustrate intimacy; it defines it, as Lee is touring with only a guitarist playing lead over her rhythm guitar. An intimate performance means vulnerability for the performer and necessitates a high level of confidence, polish and talent.

"I would say that 'Broken Skylines' is being received even better on this tour than during my 2007 tour. I used to have to really force myself to get out there on stage, and that fear hadn't dissipated until the last year," she says. "This acceptance has probably got something to do with me growing more confident as a singer/songwriter and as a professional musician."

Lee appears to be growing into herself as a musician and performer and this personal growth has been coupled in her life with genre exploration, which resulted in "Holding Back the Beast." The EP is available for digital purchase online.

"I feel like I'm more of an organic writer, using an instrument, so the experience of creating electronica was totally unique for me," she says. "I really like genre pushing, which is the plan with the stuff that I'm working on now, which is in the same vein as Wilco."

Lee's music has yielded her numerous accolades, including the Honor Awards in the 11th and 12th Annual Unisong International Songwriting Contest, the Top Finalist honor in the 2007 Great American Song Contest and a nomination for an Independent Music Award as well as appearances on television and radio play.

"I feel lucky that I've had any accolades at all, but being met with something other than indifference is what it's all about," Lee says. "It hits me the most when I get out there, strip it down and play solo acoustic and people actually stop to listen and don't mistreat it or ignore it. That is the most extraordinary accolade and experience for me." - South Bend Tribune


Music is in Reign Lee's blood. Her parents are both music lovers, and her mother, in particular, had an influence on Lee's path as a singer and musician. "My mother comes from a very musical family; some members of our family had reached a modicum of success in the industry in the 1960's and 1970's," Lee said. "So, I grew up in a very music friendly environment filled with instruments and albums."

The early exposure paid off. Lee (www.reignlee.com) is a musician with a growing reputation and her own independent label, Vereign Records. Her latest album, "Broken Skylines," tells a story of desolation against the backdrop of a fading summer.

Lee, who defines her music as alternative rock with "melodic pop inclinations," said she sees her career as a continuing journey of success. "My aim is to constantly evolve as an artist and put out albums that push my boundaries along with my audience."

-SKOPE MAGAZINE - January 2008 - SKOPE MAGAZINE


REIGN LEE: “ Holding Back The Beast": This digital only release sees Reign Lee take a less commercial route in favour of the slightly commercial route she took with her last release 'Broken Skylines'. I'm really enjoying this six track release as Reign really has gone out to write something that is both memorable and a sure sign that it wont end up in a peoples CD collections collecting dust. All six tracks on this disc are so deserving to be on here and when you hear them I know there'll be only one conclusion: You'll love them! For me my favourite songs are 'Echoes', 'Weaker States' and 'Built To Last' though the other three aren't far behind. In fact the quality of this release will see people picking their own favourites. Reign rocks and I'm surprised this lady isn't huge going on this release. 9.5/10
______________________________

REIGN LEE: “ BROKEN SKYLINES": Reign Lee is one of the most beautiful women in rock music today and looks every part the rock star. However there's more to come from this lady as her vocals and music are as equally stunning as her looks. This ten track album may have a slight commercial feel to it but it's real and that's what counts. Taking influences from the likes of Garbage right through to Nirvana and adding many of her own influences Reign Lee has written an album that will blow the average music lover away. From the opening moments of 'Summer Faded' you know you're listening to some one special. Yes there's more to come as there's other wicked songs such as 'Don't Close Your Eyes', 'Helena', 'Everything Changes' and 'Don't Walk Away'. Lyrically, musically and vocally this album is one of the best I've heard in ages. Reign Lee rocks and I love what she's doing. I'm so pleased I came across her on the internet as this album really has made my day. 9/10

Feb.18, 2009 - Street Voice UK Music Magazine


Reign Lee is more than just a pretty pretty. This lady is a very talented artist that really needs to be heard. After coming across Reign on My Space and enjoying two of her releases I just had to find out more about this lady. Here's what Reign has to say for herself.

Street Voice: First off Reign can you introduce yourself to our readers please?

Sure. My name is Reign Lee. I’m a singer, songwriter, musician & world traveler. I was born in Canada & raised in various parts of Canada & the US. I’ve lived in quite a few places but I’m currently based in Hong Kong. My life is centered around music and trying to make a worthwhile contribution to the world.

Street Voice: At what age did you decide you wanted music as a career?

Ever since I could speak! There was a brief period of being obsessed with dinosaurs as well at that young age – but apart from that, music was and always has been my lone obsession. When I was 5 I had my own record player & 4 of my own records. They were ‘Beauty and the Beat’ by The Go-Go’s, ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson, ‘1999’ by Prince and ‘Greatest Hits’ by ELO.

Street Voice: What artists actually inspired you to pick up a guitar and write your own music?

Wow. There’s too many to name! I think the albums mentioned above definitely instilled an appreciation of melody in me. But the band that actually inspired me to beg my parents for a guitar was Nirvana. My musical existence was completely changed by the raw emotion of Kurt Cobain. I was really young when they got big, so my parents & friends definitely found it a little strange that I identified with their music. I would also have to say, Courtney Love. I had never seen a woman wield a guitar with such malignant force. I thought Kurt & Courtney were a match made in musical heaven.

Street Voice: You're currently based in Hong Kong so what is the music scene like there?

In all honesty, it’s not very good. But I’m a woman of action, so instead of sitting around being disillusioned, I’ve decided to embark on a massive tour of the world. I’ve grown to love Hong Kong as a city – I think it’s one of the easiest places to live in the world. But in terms of music, it’s never had very much to offer and I’ve been fighting that frustration. For a cosmopolitan city, there isn’t really a culture of musical bonding, especially among expats. I have a theory that it has a lot to do with HK’s history as a financial port, rather than a beacon of culture. With that said, there are definitely some excellent musicians & songwriters here who continue to rally support for the community. And from the local-Chinese side, I’ve had the privilege of participating in a few local shows & the kids went crazy! So within the local community, I think there is way more appreciation among the young DIY musicians coming up right now.

Street Voice: Has there been many changes to independent music and what you can play since Beijing took control of Hong Kong?

It’s hard to say. Hong Kong has always seen itself as separate from China & the music scene is no exception. I actually lived in Beijing for about 6 months & I couldn’t believe how awesome the scene was there. There were Chinese punk bands, Sonic Youth cover bands, Riot Grrl bands, death metal, everything. It was inspiring to see & be a part of. Personally, I really want to tour throughout China because from what I’ve heard, the audiences are hungry for original music & there is a real underground movement happening. I haven’t been able to tell if that’s had any impact on HK. But I’m by no means the leading authority!

Street Voice: You're a well travelled lady so where are your favourite places to hang out?

Paris is one of my all-time favourite cities. I love the electronic DJ culture they have going on. I have great memories of just exploring the city late at night & ending up on floating rave club one night. Then the next night, getting into this old tenement building that had been turned into a chillout club – where you got your drink then settled in one of the rooms with a group of people & they had electronica seeping through the candlelit building all night. I love Hanoi – you can just stand in the city & feel a huge chunk of Vietnam’s history. I also love Louisville, Kentucky! It’s just cool. And Nashville has a really great music vibe too.

Street Voice: How did the job come about with David Letterman?

When I got to New York, I decided that I wanted to spend as much time as possible being a musician. But I still needed a job to at least help pay for my rent. So some friends had told me I should go down to the Mayor’s office because they have job listings in the entertainment field. I thought it might present some fun & interesting opportunities, so I went & applied for a bunch of stuff. So I didn’t even know I’d applied to the Letterman show, because they didn’t use their name in the job description. Then they called, I went for a group interview with about 10 other people in a big boardroom & got the job. It was great fun, because I used to sneak into the theatre to watch all the guest bands rehearse! So I got to literally sit at the side of the stage and watch everyone from PJ Harvey to Iggy Pop to R.E.M. to Coldplay to Bjork to Warren Zevon rehearse. That was an amazing and humbling experience!

Street Voice: Your first release 'Broken Skylines' was your first release so how pleased were you with the finished results?

Like a typical perfectionist, the first time I heard it finished there were 50 things I wanted to change. But in all honesty, I’m really, really proud of it. Before ‘Broken Skylines’ I had been recording everything in my flat on 16-track tape machine. I played all the instruments, recorded everything live and was just finding my way as a novice making novice mistakes. I put out my own CD of these recordings & that was my first experience of putting something out with all its battle marks all over it for the world to see. Even though a part of me looks back now & cringes, I recognize that I needed to do that to grow & to allow new opportunities to come into my life. And it was from these rough recordings that I got noticed by a New York agent. ‘Broken Skylines’ was a completely different process. It was a real DIY/studio hybrid. I had my first experience with working with a producer & recording in a proper studio where many of my hero’s had walked. I learnt my way around a console for the things that I would be recording in my home studio. It was a steep learning curve, but the whole thing was a labour of love & I relish every minute of that record with all its scars & bruises.

Street Voice: Where do you find the inspiration to write the lyrics for that release?

I would say everywhere. I’m a pretty emotional person & my music is definitely a catharsis. There are always elements of every experience I’ve had in everything I write. There were some things that came from particular dark periods. But there was also the sense of triumph in some of them – at least I feel there is.

Street Voice: How did your fans and the music press think about Broken Skylines?

I’ve had an overwhelming response to the record! It’s received excellent reviews and some awards, which I didn’t expect. But it’s also been a record that seems to be quietly gaining momentum, which is exciting because that means it’s still en route to its destination! On a personal level, I’ve found it really poignant to have people respond viscerally to anything I’ve done or written. And I’ve been amazed at how people interpret things when they bring their own experience to something. For example, I’ve had more than a few people comment on how they feel “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is a song about death and losing someone close to you. Wow! That’s amazing that people have identified with it in that way. It shows me how music in its purest form is about the connections we have to each other.

Street Voice: On the back of the album you did a twelve date tour in the USA so what places did you show your talent off?

We hit New York City, Danbury, Connecticut, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lavale, Maryland, Indianapolis, Louisville, Kentucky, Chicago, Detroit, Dayton, Ohio and Toronto in Canada.

Street Voice: More importantly how well was your received playing those shows?

We had an amazing response considering that we were sometimes playing on slow nights for the clubs. Almost everywhere we went everyone bought a CD and a cap or a T-shirt! It was really rewarding after spending so much time working on the record and not seeing daylight for days at a time. To be out in the world & have people watching you, not talking while you’re playing but actually listening to you in the midst of a crowd.

Street Voice: Your next release 'Holding Back The Beast' was recorded free as part of winning some huge music contest but what made you take in a darker and less commercial sound for this recording?

I just wanted to do something different. As a songwriter, I really want to challenge myself & take my audience in different directions. I think that’s the whole point of why we’re here: to find our place in the world & try to grow as we’re doing it. There’s nothing more boring to me than repetition. When I won the contest, I was just wrapping up ‘Broken Skylines.’ So at that moment in time, I felt like I’d accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in terms of a Rock record. So the opportunity to do something different just seemed to make sense. I wasn’t the one paying for a huge studio and producer so it seemed like the perfect gamble to make. Why not? Originally I wanted to go heavier & darker, more in the vein of industrial. But the producer kept steering me away from anything too heavy & I saw the value in giving way to some of my lesser instincts. I have to say, I absolutely love the way it turned out & I learnt a lot about stretching myself as an artist. Definitely a gamble that paid off!

Street Voice: That recording has been licensed by the Discovery Channel so have you heard your tunes on any of their shows yet? How did that deal come about anyway?

Not yet! It’s a good thing that the Discovery Channel is one of the few things I actually like to watch on TV! Everyone swears they’ve heard snippets, but I’ve yet to notice. The deal actually came through the production company that owns the studio. They were in negotiations with Discovery to license their catalogue when we were making the record and the album came together so quickly they said they wanted to add it to the catalogue!

Street Voice: You've been one busy lady so what future plans do you have?

Right now I’m working on an album for a special project. The inspiration for the album came when I was on a mountain bike trek through North Vietnam over this past Christmas and New Year. Again, I want it to be a different kind of record so I’m really stretching myself. After this, I think I’ll be ready to record my sequel to ‘Broken Skylines’ – something loud and heavy. My other big plan is that I’ve decided to embark on a year-long acoustic tour. So instead of touring with a band, I’ll be stripping things down for more intimate shows where I can actually talk to the audience. I get so many questions about what the songs are about; I think it will be cool to incorporate some of those elements into the shows. I also love touring and making a connection with different audiences, so I just want to take my guitar and see the world.

Street Voice: By the way which parent should we thank for your amazing beauty?

Ha! Thank you for the wonderful compliment but I definitely don’t think of myself as an amazing beauty. But people have always been quite curious about my ethnicity. My father is Chinese and my mother is Canadian from Eastern-European heritage. Both of my parents are beautiful people in their own way. But everyone has always said I’m the spitting image of my mother, which I really take as a compliment because she’s a very pretty woman.

Street Voice: Have you been offered any modelling shots because of your beauty? If not would you ever take up an offer if it meant pushing your music into new areas?

Now you’re embarrassing me! Modelling has been something that started coming up after we had the wonderful publicity shots done for ‘Holding Back the Beast.’ But there’s been no serious offers and it’s not something I’ve ever been interested in. It’s a compliment that it’s ever been suggested since I grew up feeling very much of an ugly duckling. But music is where my heart is. If any opportunities came up in the future, I would definitely be open to hearing them. But I’m definitely not interested in being anybody’s puppet.

Street Voice: You must get plenty of people chatting you up so any funny stories to share regards bad chat up lines?

The only thing I can say is the minute a conversation starts with, “Hey Baby,” it’s almost guaranteed to be all down-hill from there.

Street Voice: You're also into tattoo's so how many have you got and have you any real special ones?

I’m addicted to tattoos! I have 11 & definitely want more but I’m trying to be more discretionary with whatever else I get. The one that has the most meaning is definitely the tattoo that my partner & I share. The other special one represents a significant turning point in my life when I feel I started truly living.


Street Voice: Outside of music what does Reign Lee get up to in her spare time?

It’s hard to define anything as totally separate, since music permeates every aspect of my life. I’m obsessed with books – especially non-fiction. I spend as much time as I can running & hiking in the mountains, because it’s better than taking Prozac. I love animals and volunteer at the SPCA. I also like to smoke, drink, do drugs and sleep with as many groupies as possible, in true rocker fashion…

Street Voice: If you could just have one wish what would that be and why?

There is no sane way to answer this riddle! Isn’t this the part where I’m supposed to say I would wish for an endless supply of wishes? Or I could say that I wish there was no suffering in the world, but if you believe in any Buddhist principles, you know that there can be no beauty in this world without the contrast of suffering. I guess I would wish that nobody had to walk around feeling more damaged than they are, because from that equality, that’s how we can create real positive change in the world. Or maybe I’m getting way too far out now… Maybe I should’ve just wished for the Ferrari…

Street Voice: Finally have you anything you'd like to say?

Yes! If anyone would like to contact me, please feel free to do so! You can email me directly at: reign@reignlee.com
Also, I’m going to need a lot of support along the way on my year-long tour. If you have any recommendations of great clubs/cities to play, great ways to book shows, great places to stay and any other helpful info, then please let me know. I would really appreciate it! In turn, if any musicians out there need any info and think I may be able to help them, please get in touch with me. The more numbers we have, the bigger the Indie Revolution! Finally, I just want to say check in with my website: www.reignlee.com - which is getting updated as we speak. It’s going to have current info on it about my upcoming album and the special project it involves. It will also have current tour dates. And I will be launching a blog that I know you’ll want to read! Please visit and make contact by signing-up to my Mailing List, since I’ll also be giving away free gifts and downloads to Mailing List members… Become a part of my tribe! I wish Street Voice, Steve DIY and everybody a glorious year ahead. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind. Be well!

Thanks to Reign for doing the interview. If you haven't heard Reign Lee before then I'm sure most of you will enjoy her alternative rock sound. I was blown away by her tunes and I'm sure you will be too!

March 2009 - Street Voice UK Music Magazine


This Hong-Kong based singer/song writer, Reign Lee, is ready to take the music world by storm. Not only does Lee write and perform all of her songs on the new record, but she is also the producer of Broken Skylines. This multi-talented artist is definitely prepared to excite the minds of music enthusiasts everywhere!
Having a European-Canadian mother & Chinese father, this has played a huge role in her development as a musician. Reign has also lived, worked and studied in many places around the world such as: Ontario, Alberta, Arizona, Beijing, Illinois, New York and Hong Kong. This cultural diversity that Lee has experienced makes her very multi-dimensional.
Broken Skylines is a very pure album in terms of Reign Lee’s passion on the recording. You can really feel her soul, at times, just by the way she sings her lines. It is both a very powerful & emotional listening experience for Reign Lee herself and her audience. Lee offers up a very pleasant pitch & melody throughout this record. It seems like so much damn feeling wrapped up into one small CD. I would say that Lee is blending various styles here from: rock, pop and alternative to make up one immensely in teresting sound. I would call Broken Skylines guitar-driven pop/rock with some slightly raw edginess to it. This is all twisted together to make up Reign Lee’s distinct sound.
Some worthy accolades I’d like to mention here: MySpace charts have listeners ranking her as the #1 Alternative Indie Artist from Hong Kong. She is also the #1 Alternative Artist in Hong Kong on the Reverbnation charts. Her song, “Built to Last” is included for a Microsoft promotional campaign as the Sponsored Song. In support of Broken Skylines, she has had a TV appearance on the Tim Qualls Show and she will also be appearing on certain TV Talk Shows on ABC, Fox and Comcast along the way. Lee is set to embark on a long US club tour that will start up Oct. 14, visiting cities nationwide into 2010. See if Reign Lee is coming to a city/town near you!
In the end, this record has so much passionate energy and Reign Lee is one serious artist. Just as a basketball player may make it rain three pointers, Reign is making it rain musical notes composed of nothing but precision & quality. For more on this multi-dimensional artist, Reign Lee, and her latest album Broken Skylines, SKOPE out www.myspace.com/reignleemusic

4 out of 5 stars
By Jimmy Rae
- SKOPE MAGAZINE - Jimmy Rae


Reign Lee has built her career from the ground up. She tells Mathew Scott how it feels to see it finally take shape

When Reign Lee enters the room, she’s already looking every inch the rock star. Dressed mainly in black, her hair is cut in a bob that floats back to reveal splashes of dyed color. There’s a tattoo on her left shoulder, another on her right wrist and she’s carrying a guitar.
We are at the Fringe Club, where the 28-year-old, Canadian-born, Hong Kong-based singer-songwriter plays this Saturday as part of the HK Live! series. At the end of the month, she goes to the US on a 12-city east coast tour.

Lee has just released her second CD, Broken Skylines, and she begins to tell a story that says a lot about dedication and faith in your own ability, and a lot about how music moves in the modern age.
“Last December, I posted some of my music on the Sonicbids website – stuff I had been working on in my bedroom,” says Lee.
“I was then approached out of the blue by Eugene Foley, who’s an industry legend in the States. He offered to listen to my music and give me a free appraisal.”
Foley Entertainment provides artist with advice and management, and Foley has established himself as an industry heavyweight over the past 15 years. “He’s one of those people who knows and has worked with everyone,” says Lee.
“I was nervous about what he would think of my work, but I felt it was time in my career to see if I could go that one step further.”
Foley was so impressed with what he heard, he began arranging this month’s tour and setting up the studio time that would culminate in Broken Skylines. He also hooked Lee up with producer John Seymour, who has worked with big names from Santana to U2.
“I’m still shaking a bit about how fast it’s all happened – from writing the songs, to getting the e-mail back from Eugene, to recording and now getting ready to tour,” Lee says.

That CD and the tour add two more chapters to Lee’s story, which has seen her cross half the globe and while away any number of hours alone in her bedroom, writing songs and honing her craft.
Lee’s father left Hong Kong for Canada looking for work, settled in Hamilton, Ontario, and fuelled his daughter’s love for music from an early age. “My father was into Motown, he wanted to be a drummer,” she recalls. “My mother was more into rock. We always had music playing, everything from the Doors to Heart.”
After moving for a while to the US, the Lee family headed to Hong Kong when Reign was a teenager. “Like any teenager, I was against it,” she says. “The last thing you want at that age is to be moved away from friends to a different country.”
But by then she had begun to write songs and slowly develop her own sound. After completing a degree in law, Lee began to travel and play extensively, ending up in New York. She was in Europe at a friend’s wedding during 9/11 and found herself unable to get a flight back home.
“After 9/11 no one was sure what to do – whether to stay in New York or move. I had no money; you couldn’t really get back there anyway, so my parents told me to come back to Hong Kong.”

This time around, Lee was more welcoming of the move. She began playing around town, either solo or with friends, and continued to develop her own style, which lends itself to the drama of Patti Smith-style heavy rock.
“Some people have said that, which is nice,” says Lee. It’s flattering, of course, but I’m nowhere near the same league. I think it’s because our songs are all very personal.” And although her songs touch on her own experiences, the arrival of the CD has enabled Lee to help out a cause that is also close to her heart.
Her great-uncle, Jimmy Lomax, started Canada’s own Operation Santa Claus almost 50 years ago and the charity has been helping people in Ontario ever since. For her part, Lee is donating 10 per cent of sales of her album to the charity as it aims to raise C$300,000 (HK$2.34 million) this year.

Lee is hoping to thank her local fans for their support when she takes to the Fringe stage this weekend. Then it’s off on tour and into the great unknown. “It’s the sort of thing you dream about when you are sitting in your bedroom, strumming away, and wondering if your music will ever be heard,” she says.
“Eugene was all about me finding my own sound, and that’s what I think we’ve done.”
- South China Morning Post


Everything old is new again. This Hong-Kong based, Canadian born, well-traveled (she’s lived everywhere man - see Johnny Cash) chanteuse has rendered a refreshing, no-frills guitar-driven collection that faithfully harkens back to the 90s alt-rock bravura of the Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt, Garbage, and Foo Fighters. Which means Ms. Lee delivers the goods, and then some. Guitarists Ken Able and Lee are a torrid twosome, spitting forth a kitchen sink’s worth of supporting riffs, harmonics, power chords, and feedback in all the right places. Five-stringed bassist Rob Struck holds the bottom firm (and low, low, low) whilst Kurt Wubbenhorst’s back-beat drives the songs through a brick wall.

“Helena” is the obvious choice if you have to download one signature track - an anthemic melody mixed with sexual ambiguity never fails to please. For the more sensitive side of Lee, be sure to check out the ballad “Something About You” - Gilbert Halcrow’s overdubbed acoustic guitar leads and mandolin lines embellish Lee’s pathos perfectly.

When it Reigns it pours…. highly recommended for fans of K.T. Tunstall, Fiona Apple, Gail Ann Dorsey and the like.

--Tom Semioli - Amplifier Magazine


‘Static’ is not a word that factors much into the life of singer Reign Lee. From birth in Hamilton, Ontario, to establishing her own record label in Hong Kong, her life has been a chronicle of movement.

Born to a European-Canadian mother and a Chinese father, the singer-songwriter grew up feeding on her father’s love of the blues – BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan among others – and her mother’s dedication to heavy rock. Having taught herself to play the piano and guitar, Lee follows Nirvana’s simple style and only recently started taking proper music lessons. “I am learning from a real blues master and he teaches me the old school way to do it,” she says. “I am having the time of my life.”

Lee’s family settled in Hong Kong when she was a teen, but she later studied in Beijing and Chicago, where she learnt to appreciate bands like The Smashing Pumpkins. Still, it was after she moved to New York that a new musical chapter opened – she began performing in bars and clubs, collaborating with other artists and worked for a year on the Late Show with David Letterman. But that all ended somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly.

Two days before September 11, Lee decided on a whim to fly to London with a friend – and got stuck there. Although she had intended to return to the Big Apple, her roommate and many of her friends had left, and the show she was working on was put on hold indefinitely. “I was so displaced at the time and I thought maybe it was a sign, because in Buddhism you are supposed to go with the flow, right? Something told me it was time for a change to focus on another direction, so I came back to Hong Kong.”

Seeing how far off the international music radar our city is, that may have seemed a mistake. It used to frustrate me a lot,” she admits, “but I don’t like getting too caught up because it is all up to me.” With a philosophy of ‘change it or leave it’, she caught the attention of US music agent Eugene Foley, just when she was irritated enough to quit. That led to working with Grammy-winning producer John Seymour, the release of her studio album, Broken Skylines, and a 12-city East Coast tour last autumn.

Lee admits the change from being a bedroom recording artist to working with world-class professionals was the most stressful time in her life so far. “I fled all the way to New York for three days, worked on all the vocals tracks jetlagged – all completely without sleep!’”
For those who listen to the album, the provoking alt-rock melodies and Lee’s affecting voice will evoke memories of Patti Smith or Annie Lennox. And while Lee may look every inch a rock star – black vest, skinny jeans and tattoos – she can be the most enchanting diva one could hope to meet. It is all a bit of an enigma: where do her dark tunes and lyrics come from? “I tend to write in minor keys which are usually considered the dark, sad keys. I don’t want to get into too much personal stuff because the beauty of music [is that it’s] something universal.” She is unconcerned with how audiences identify with her music – they don’t have to relate it to her experience. “To me my music is totally a therapy,” she says. “It is an outlet for my dark feelings. I know it is funny, but I learned how to be happy in the last few years, and people who know me have noticed it as well. As long as I have my music I should be happy.”

Her latest EP, Hold Back the Beast, is a turnarond from her previous work; it was recorded free in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia, as the prize for winning the 2007 International Free Ride Music Contest. Currently only available via the internet (www.reignlee.com), it is a six-song collection of enigmatic, soul-capturing melodies – think Peter Gabriel, Portishead and a little bit of Lisa Gerrard. It grew out of producer Blake Althen saying to her, “Here is 30 seconds of music, listen to it and see if you can write a song around that.” Lee had never collaborated with anyone like that before but found the studio sessions “cool” – in fact, so cool that the Discovery Channel has licensed the EP for the next couple of years. “It could totally fall on its face but it’s worth the risk. I haven’t lost anything – I went to the studio for free,” says the philosophical Lee.
- BC Magazine - Sept.5, 2008


Discography

"Angels In the Dirt" EP released by Vereign Records in November 2010
"Holding Back the Beast" EP released by Vereign Records/Human Factor Productions in May 2008
"Broken Skylines" LP released by Vereign Records in August 2007
"Open State" Limited Release LP released by Vereign Records in March 2006

Photos

Bio

REIGN LEE BIOGRAPHY

Alternative artist, Reign Lee’s lyrical yet dynamic style has firmly established her as a singer-songwriter with an edge. Drawing a list of comparisons as diverse as Patti Smith, the Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Annie Lennox, Nirvana and Tegan and Sara – the chameleonic musician has carved out her own brand of what it means to be alternative by combining rock, pop, folk and electronica.

Reign was born off the beaten track in the town of Hamilton, Ontario. She has lived, worked, and studied in Ontario, Alberta, Arizona, Beijing, Illinois, New York, Hong Kong and Belgium. Born to a European-Canadian mother & a Chinese father, Reign's multi-cultural background helped sow the seeds for her restless travels to the ends of the world.

Reign has won the International Free Ride Song Contest. She has received 2 Honorable Mentions in Mike Pinder's Bandwars for her songs ‘SUMMER FADED’ and ‘BURN’ from her album “BROKEN SKYLINES.” She has also received Honor Awards in the 11th and 12th Annual Unisong International Songwriting Contest, the Top Finalist honor in the 2007 Great American Song Contest and has been nominated for an Independent Music Award.

Her popular song, ‘BUILT TO LAST’ from her album “HOLDING BACK THE BEAST” was selected to be part of Microsoft and Reverbnation’s Sponsored Songs campaign and she recently signed a licensing deal with RUMBLEFISH – the world’s largest online music catalog.

Her acclaimed songs, “SLEEPER CARS” and “I BLEED”, from her album, “ANGELS IN THE DIRT”, have also gained interest from MTV and The Voice.

She’s been a guest on the Tim Qualls show as well as CBS’s popular program ‘Virginia This Morning.’ She’s also been a featured artist on Fearless Radio's New Music Binge and ABC networks online indie music showcase, Fame Games.

Reign’s live performances have drawn comparisons with Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Smashing Pumpkins and Thom Yorke. She’s opened for acclaimed singer-songwriter, Joseph Arthur and Canadian indie darlings, The Besnard Lakes. Her EP, “ANGELS IN THE DIRT,” has fallen into rotation all over the world and particularly garnered attention from Crystal Blue Radio in New York, Radio Basingstoke in England, RTHK in Hong Kong and Women of Substance Radio in the US. TIME OUT magazine described the tracks on the EP as 'cinematic.’

Reign Lee has played in venues all over the world. She's completed 4 tours of the US and the UK and is currently working on a forthcoming album and tour. She also keeps busy as the founding editor of INDIE MAG.

Reign is currently the #1 Alternative Artist in Brussels, Belgium.