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Artist Spotlight: Reaper

"It's all about making music freely. As a musician and artist, I don't want to be pigeonholed."

In 2018, one of my friends, Kelsey, sent me two songs by this lesser-known musician called Reaper. The songs "HEADY" and "Three Thirty" quickly made their mark on my most listened-to OAT. In 2020, the musician took his music off of streaming services, causing a widespread number of listeners to feel confused, considering his strong musical impact.


I always wondered about Reaper's disappearance. I looked at Reddit threads some years ago, with titles like "Reaper Missing!!" under the r/musicconspiracytheory subreddit and countless others. Fans, including myself, were trying to figure out who he was, where he went, and why he not only stopped making music but took it all down. I didn't learn very much through the treads, but neither did many others; We were all in the dark about his whereabouts, and his destination was a mystery. But, if you want a good laugh after reading this article, you should check them out.


It wasn't until this past summer that fans realized his music was back up, followed up with an IG post on September 8th with the caption: "Back up!" This digital announcement signified his reappearance.

Naturally, we reached out to Reaper to see if he would be willing to walk me through these past six/seven years. So, here I am today, not only fulfilling myself by conversing with Reaper but giving his fans the proper acknowledgment towards 'Reaper's disappearance' according to Reddit.

Following a lengthy and fulfilling conversation with JJ Scheff, the man, myth, and legend behind Reaper, it became evident that his disappearance or truthful break from music had a purpose; Scheff was trying to soul search. The music industry can be difficult to navigate for new artists, and even more confusing and competitive when trying to discover your sound:


"I took the music down while some business was being sorted out. There's no right or wrong way to make art. It made me realize that it's not that serious. Something opened up there for whatever reason, and I started seeing things differently. This wasn't an overnight thing. I kinda let things intuitively sort themselves out while keeping trust in life," Scheff acknowledged.


However, this is all just a small part of Scheff’s career arc, and it’s absolutely necessary to reflect on who Scheff is, and how Reaper was born.


Originally from Moorpark, California, Reaper has had a long history with music. "It's (Moorpark) a regular working-class city, but you know it's a 45-minute drive from LA," JJ reflects on his childhood home. "My dad has worked in entertainment; he's a musician as well. This was the perfect little place for him to set up shop 'cause it's outside the fray of entertainment industry chaos until my dad moved us out to Nashville because of his work." Being from a musically inclined family greatly influenced Scheff's attraction to music. Upon relocating to Nashville, Scheff formed a band with his friends, marking one of the initial milestones in his musical journey. "I was in my first band with my younger brother called 'Shuf .' It was hilarious, we would play lots of covers. We had a few members; it was a revolving door for a while… I was playing drums too, which was great; That was the first instrument I played."

After Scheff and the rest of his family moved from the music-filled streets of Nashville to the mountainous landscapes of Utah, they found themselves in the quaint area of Provo. High school in Provo shifted from the traditional band scene to a new DJing phase—a punk rebellion against the mainstream musical currents. "I stopped doing the band thing and got into DJing. That was my punk phase, stepping away from things like, 'I don't wanna be in a band, that's lame,' and getting into DJing and playing music for people," Scheff reflects.


Utah's distinct cultural scene was intriguing, and the desire to integrate and understand the local vibe became a driving force. A pivotal moment in Scheff's journey was a house party invitation from a newfound friend, Quinn. Armed with speakers and a mixer, his DJ debut at the party was a resounding success, marking the beginning of his place in the Provo music scene. Scheff reflected on his original intentions with music, "What initially made me interested in doing this was I wanted to play my own music. I wanted to be able to DJ my own dance music. I graduated high school a year early and moved out to LA, where I started an internship at this studio in Burbank." This was when the idea of Reaper started to be configured.


His industry initiation was unique, starting as a food runner at Bruno Mars' studio during the 24K Magic album studio session. Despite delivering more sustenance than studio time, the experience was invaluable. The turning point came when he connected with Scott Frankfurt Studio in Woodland Hills, shifting from Bruno Mars' energetic camp to Scott's intimate sessions. This transition marked a change in perspective, delving into the strategic, engineer-side aspects of music production:


"The hands-on learning is where I feel like I leveled up. Spending time around the Bruno camp and seeing the way that a lot of big producers work inspired me to produce for other people and be on that side of things. No one would work with me... probably cause I was pretty bad at making stuff. The first Reaper EP came from a place where I had no idea what I wanted to say. I hadn't even sung before."


As a young newcomer to the scene, one of the most challenging aspects for musicians is discovering their unique sound. Scheff emphasized that this struggle was a significant factor that led him to temporarily take down his music. "People I showed it (Reaper EP) to were surprised at how I got it to work out. I was like, 'This is cool, it sounds good, it sounds okay.' Things started moving quickly… I guess I didn't know how to feel." Taking another similar direction with heady, after changing locations to Toronto, there was less of a response to the project, which Scheff referred to as anticlimactic. "We put it out independently; I remember being underwhelmed cause it was a slow burn, anticlimactic. It felt like there was more room to grow with it. I started making music for the expectation of the project rather than creating it intuitively. That's the only way I can articulate it."


This leads to the questions everyone has been asking: Where and what is Reaper doing now? Is he back? Will we, as faithful listeners, see and hear more of Reaper?

To progress, Reaper had to fully reflect on his past music, and make the conscious decision of where he wanted to take his music next. Based on our conversation, it is clear that this hiatus was much needed, and Scheff is in a place to create new sounds again:


"There was a lot of inspiration. The older tracks, in a lot of ways, I was a director of. They were theatrical. I feel like a fiction writer with a lot of the old stuff. I knew I wasn't inspired to do that with the new stuff…I finished this ten-track project and wanted to put it out. I just threw it up, like two months ago, under my name. Around that time, I got Heady back up. People started rolling in, and I understood how the old stuff resonated. I knew from the jump that it was cool music people could connect with. I was surprised and flattered by the people who were personally reaching out and touched by the music."


As of November 15th, 2023, Scheff begins his newfound journey of rolling out his rebranded music while still under the name Reaper. "I couldn't imagine not playing my old stuff, but this new project came from a similar creative place. It's all about making music freely. Based on my feedback from friends, the next project isn't what you'd expect. I'm excited to release new music, keeping things simple and clear. As a musician and artist, I don't want to be pigeonholed… I want creativity to flow, whether it's a new Reaper project or exploring new dance music."


The mystery of Reaper's disappearance and subsequent return unveils a journey of self-discovery and artistic evolution. From the early fascination with DJ-ing in Utah to the unique initiation in Bruno Mars's studio, his path in the music industry has been marked by twists and turns. The decision to rebrand and release new music under the name Reaper signifies a fresh start, emphasizing the importance of making music freely without limitations. "Easy," the newest track to be released, brings a fresh vibe to the table, showcasing Reaper's evolving style. The title might be "Easy," but there's nothing simple about the intricate layers and beats that characterize the song; it has an immediate appeal to any audience. Whether you're into dance music, looking for something with meaningful lyrics, or just in the mood for a catchy tune, Reaper seems to have crafted a song that ticks all the boxes.


You can stream Reaper's newest single "Easy" and new music in the future on various streaming platforms.


TAP IN : REAPER ON SPOTIFY | INSTAGRAM| STREAM: Easy| Production



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