Singer-songwriter RIVVRS talks latest album

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Singer-songwriter RIVVRS talks latest album

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Muscian RIVVRS has embarked on a US tour in support of his debut album “Unfamiliar Skin” and newly released single “Ready to Begin”.  The singer-songwriter defies genre with his unique blend of alternative folk, pop and soul music, which has led to comparisons to artists such as Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee and Paul Simon. We chatted with him about his music and the making of “Unfamilar Skin.”

Q: What was the process with creating and recording your new album, “Unfamiliar Skin?”

A: I was lucky enough to not be working towards any specific deadline, so the process was pretty laid back. I wrote the songs on the album over the course of about two years and was left with a good chunk of songs to choose for the final record.

When I first started writing and recording, I was working full time in Napa to pay my bills, so I would go into the studio after work, or I’d take a few days off at a time and go down to L.A. to write and record. I was able to quit my job about a year and a half ago and I moved down to L.A. to focus on music and finishing the album, which definitely made the process a lot easier.

The hardest part was picking which songs went onto it. I didn’t want to release everything I recorded, so I picked eight tracks for this one and plan to release a lot of the other songs over the next few months.

 Q: What were your main influences for the album? Is there a particular artist from the past year that has given you some inspiration?

A: I just really wanted the album to feel positive and upbeat, so that was my main inspiration. I was listening to a lot of old soul/R&B music during the writing process, but didn’t necessarily want to create a soul record, so it got fused with all of my other influences.

I really like Tom Petty and Van Morrison and I listen to a lot of more current bands like Alabama Shakes and Dawes. And when I was younger, I listened to a lot of classic rock. Everything kind of went into a blender and came out as you hear it on the record.

Q: Where does the album name “Unfamiliar Skin” come from?

A: It ties back to the process for making the record. I was in a big state of transition- I went from working 40 hours a week to living in L.A. and playing music full time. It was a really big change for me. I recorded “Ready to Begin” a few months after moving down and the lyric “I’m ready to begin, I need some unfamiliar skin” became the foundation for the song, and eventually the entire album.

The song itself is about my transition to L.A. and playing music full time and it’s sort of a reassurance to myself that the unfamiliar is exactly what I need; even if it’s not totally comfortable at first.

 Q: Is there a track on the album you are most proud of? Or a track that has a memorable story to it?

A: I’d have to say number three, “Gnome Home.” It was co-written and produced by my friend Joshua James. He’s a singer/songwriter I’ve listened to and admired since before I was making my own records. We connected a while ago and eventually started working together these past few years. Just being able to work with him was really amazing, and I’m really happy with the song we created.

The title also has a pretty funny story. Initially, it was probably going to be called “Home” or something simple. As we write songs together, Josh puts made-up titles on a board to reference the track.

He wrote “Gnome Home” for this one and titled the file the same thing, so when I sent it around to share it with people, everyone saw it as “Gnome Home” and assumed that was the name of the song.

I didn’t realize the title hadn’t been changed from the chalkboard version until it was too late, and the song had already been registered. So it lived on as “Gnome Home” which I think is pretty hilarious.

 Q: What is your song writing process like? How long does it take? Where do you get the most inspiration from?

A: It all depends. Some songs I write at home alone with an acoustic guitar and a piece of paper, but a lot of the time I like to go into a studio and co-write with producers. I love having an entire studio at my fingertips, so I can create a vibe around the song.

Some songs come quicker than others. “Ready to Begin” was written and recorded in the course of about two days, and then there was about three months of post-production and mixing to get it finished.

Other tracks like my latest single, “Change” I wrote in a few hours and recorded it multiple times over the course of two years, until the version felt right. I get most of my inspiration throughout random parts of the day, not necessarily just in songwriting sessions.

I keep notes on my phone with all the lyric ideas and I record everything on voice memos. Those are usually what I reference when I start a new song or need an idea for something I’m working on.

Q: What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?

A: I get home from touring the day before Thanksgiving, so I’m gonna spend most of that day sleeping, then I’ll be with family in the Bay Area for a few days.Otherwise, it’s the calm before the storm. I’ll be doing a lot more touring and writing in 2017, so more music should be coming soon!