re6ce, The Relentless Creator

June 26, 2024

Under the guise of infectious melody, re6ce's music is characteristically raw, and the concept for his new album grey europe is the perfect amalgamation of the young artist's unfiltered vision. 

From under a horned mop of hair gazes Reece Downes. The photo is grainy and much of his eyes are obscured, yet there is an undeniable confidence exuding from their figure. The cover art for her debut album grey europe aptly tells the story of the 19-year-old phenom. 

"The hair was super inspired by Ecco2k," says re6ce. "It was this particular shoot he did in London wearing this hat with two spikes, and that concept kind of stuck with me for a minute. I thought, ‘When I am finally doing a project, I want that to be the focal point on the cover.’" He had put the image in his back pocket until the opportunity to create an album finally presented itself in 2023. Up until the inception of grey europe, re6ce had spent the better part of two years releasing singles that steadily gained traction and popularity. 

In his aesthetic preferences that lean toward grungy Y2k, Downes is effortlessly cool, and the mysterious gaze of the album cover adds to his mystique. Although the artist has been releasing music for years, their persona feels alluringly anonymous. 

re6ce’s creativity is rooted in spontaneity which is obvious in his visuals. In fact, he approaches all aspects of his creativity from a place of "Do It Yourself" authenticity. Even the album cover was a spur-of-the-moment choice. "The one that we actually ended up using as the cover was an outtake. It wasn't supposed to be the cover at all," says re6ce. 

This attitude is most apparent in the music video for grey europe's lead single, "is suicide too much?" For the video, re6ce was in the perfect headspace to create magic. “I went to New York with my friend Lucas Ochs-Messick, who directed the video. While I was in New York, I took mushrooms for the first time the day before we shot the video. I was mad refreshed before, and filming was just so much fun." 

The video depicts re6ce and friends walking around mausoleums, playing with voodoo dolls, and running around New York City in the ownership of youth. Shot on camcorders, the video feels whimsical in a Bushwick, East London way, "Smoking cigarettes outside of a warehouse vibe," is how I put it to re6ce.

The opening track is the only song on the album with an accompanying music video, which for re6ce was an easy decision. Aside from its introductory nature, in re6ce's opinion, it is one of his most emotive tracks. To the sound of guitars he sings, "I tell you I'm fine, but I'm lying/ I’ll be outside, up on a ledge, know I'm dying / On the inside I'll be fine, is suicide too much?”

His lyrics do not shy away from hard truths, but despite the content, his music is not without hope. “Usually it's just about personal experience,” he says. Like anybody else, re6ce experiences the ebbs and flows of the human experience, but he fearlessly channels every aspect of that into his music. Usually, the melody comes first. 

“I'll make the instrumental and usually something will pop out to me and then I'll just hum a melody until it becomes something that stands out to me. I punch it in, record it, and then eventually when I've got something I don't want to change anymore, I'll send it off and it's ready to be released.” 

His ability to create music feels rhythmic in itself. “I'm not going to lie. I think ‘is suicide too much?’ [took] like 30 minutes. I was sad and I was drunk in my room when I made it.” There is a near-instant translation from re6ce’s state of mind to his current projects. 

As a concept, grey europe is a state of mind and a physical presence. “I thought of it while I was on tour in November. Obviously, in November it's gray, it's dull a fuck. We were out in Berlin this one day and I missed my flight the last day and we were just walking around thrifting and stuff. With the Eastern European buildings and really tall, gloomy towers, it was a really cool place to be. It was the energy. So I wrote that down in my notes.” 

The artist describes his journey to grey europe as very simple, “Basically, I was bored in the UK,” he says. While this may be true, his career began at age 16 and has furiously advanced since. “I used to be a lot more into skating and stuff, but I was never really good enough at skating to be professional. I didn't have anything that I could put a career to. It was either science in school, I was kind of good at that, or it was skating, and it definitely wasn't going to be skating. So I was like, ‘Fuck, I need to find something.’ Right at the same time, I meet this kid from Atlanta. His artist name is NimStarr, and he kind of taught me the basics and music on free software, super basic. It was a really unprofessional setup, but it worked. One of the songs that he recorded on that same setup has I think 20 million streams or something.” 

His education in music was hands-on, and he was quick to learn from the musicians he admired. Taking note of his Nirvana t-shirt, his genre-bending music has unmistakable elements of rock and alt-pop that give it a slight familiarity while feeling fresh. “Aldn is a big inspiration to me. It's very nostalgic. For this album, I'd say MGMT, Dominic Fike,” and his top listened-to artist of 2023, Steve Lacy.  

re6ce’s story does not end with the closing track “‘skin&bone.” Despite his condensed US tour and the fact that his album dropped no more than two weeks ago, re6ce already hinted at new music. Not just a new single, but an entire new project tentatively being released at the end of the summer. 

“‘skin&bone’” is very much a send-off track, but as we are working on the second project, the end of the first fades into the start of the second.” It is only a matter of time until the world gets more ear-catching melodies and riveting lyrics from re6ce, the relentless creator.