Hello! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, I’m doing great, Just enjoying a few days off from tour before heading east for the rest of October. I’m currently back home in LA for about 48 hours and then driving to Salt Lake City for the next show.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Don’t Give Up On Me”
Sure! I’m really excited to have it out in the world. To me, it marks a new phase of my music career and a new direction the music is headed. The song itself is pretty vulnerable. I tend to keep most of my writing ambiguous and vague, but this song in particular doesn’t hold anything back from my personal life. My previous record Unfamiliar Skin is definitely an upbeat and generally positive record. The new songs on Cosmic Dream contrast that theme quite a bit, and this song embodies the overall feeling of the new album. The song was born from a genuine place of sadness and fear.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I must have had the lyric “Don’t Give Up on Me” written in my phone for at least a year. I knew it was going to turn into a song eventually, but I never did anything with it. I moved to Los Angeles about two years ago, and the transition itself was very difficult. I had just released my first album and had quit the day job I was working in Napa, CA so I could focus on music full time. I think the realities of that change didn’t quite meet up to the expectations in my head. I found myself really lonely in LA and it was hard for me. I had so much structure and drive when I had to make music and balance a full time day job. Once I was able to quit that job and focus on music, I started to feel this sense of “What now?” and “What’s next?” and it just got the best of me. I went into a really dark depression and started to feel like I was losing sight of myself as a person and as an artist. A lot of suppressed feelings from my childhood started to resurface; abandonment, fear, loss, sadness.
The song was written during that difficult time, but more towards the end of it. At a certain point this year, I began to come out of my fog and once this song was written, I think it helped me overcome some of those issues I was facing. To me, the song is a plea to those in my life to keep believing in me; but moreso, it’s a plea to myself to not give up.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes! My buddy Noah and I are currently wrapping up the final edit to release soon. We filmed it out in Joshua Tree National Park. For some reason, we decided it was smart to do this in the middle of June. I think you can see my sunburn kick in halfway through the video (Ha!).
The single comes off your upcoming album, Cosmic Dream – what’s the story behind the title?
The title was inspired towards the end of the writing process. At a certain point during the record, I started to feel much happier and positive than I did at the beginning. When you’re depressed, you really don’t think about much other than yourself. During my reflection, I started to reconnect to the spiritual aspect of life and my own personal beliefs. I looked around and realized how lucky I was to be making music, how lucky I was to be alive. It reminded me that you can do anything you want in this life, be anybody you want to be. I started to feel like I was waking up, and that I was living inside of a Cosmic Dream.
How was the recording and writing process?
The process was my favorite by far for this record. I just focused on the writing, knowing I was going to take most of the songs to Joshua James and re-imagine them completely as a production. I wrote and demo’d a lot of material; both in LA and in Nashville. I did some co-writing with Josh personally, and then I took all my favorite songs out to American Fork, Utah and recorded them in Josh’s home studio; Willamette Mountain. Because Josh has a very specific way of making music, he brought something to the album that couldn’t be done in LA. We really experimented with sounds and vibes and pedals, and recorded most of the record with Analog gear. The old school approach gave the recording process a physical aspect that you don’t get with digital recording.
A couple of the songs are the original demos that were made in LA or Nashville, and didn’t need to be re-cut. That’s the case with “Don’t Give Up On Me.” I wrote that song with a producer named Drew Pearson, and I loved what we demo’d so much, we just made tweaks from there and then sent it for mixing.
What role does LA play in your writing?
I can’t say that I would have written this album if I hadn’t moved to LA. In general, I do a lot of writing there, but I prefer to write outside of the city. If I’m writing in LA with other people, there tends to be a lot less of an organic approach, and more of a decisive “this is what we’re doing.” And that’s nice sometimes, but I really like to experiment and I feel like I was able to do that with this record; because it was mostly created outside of the city.
How has your upbringing influenced your music?
What a question! Music was instilled in me at a young age; even just by my father blasting classic rock through our household. That’s how we would get woken up most days, by Bon Scott and Angus Young. On a personal level, having my mother leave me at a young age inspired me to express myself in a way I couldn’t communicate normally. I never really touched on my personal life before this record, but it’s very present in the new material, so I feel this desire to share my story and connect to people in that way. A lot of the songs on this record are about my relationship with my family and my upbringing.
What dreams did you get to explore on this record?
The biggest dream to me was being able to write and record with Joshua James. I’ve been a fan of Josh’s music since I was in high school, and to be able to create a record with someone who you admire so much is just surreal. I think that emotion and chemistry went directly into the songs and the vibe of the overall record. I’ve always dreamed of making a “concept” record that has a very similar feeling and theme when you play it start to finish. I feel like we totally accomplished that goal with Cosmic Dream.
You’re currently in the middle of a national tour with The National Parks, any plans to hit the road next year?
Absolutely! Up to this point, I’ve mostly toured solo. I’ve always wanted to tour with a band, but haven’t had the ability to do so up until now. When the new record drops in 2018, I’m planning on my first full band tour across the country.
What else is happening next in the world of RIVVRS?
Right now I’m focused on wrapping up this tour with The National Parks and finishing the record. It’s in the final stages of mixing right now, but as soon as it’s ready; I’m sending it for vinyl pressing. When I hit the road next year, the goal is to have both albums available for sale on vinyl, as well as a couple of new T-shirt designs and some more merch. Also, since I haven’t gone out on tour with a band, the early part of 2018 will be spent tightening the screws and getting the live set to sound as good as it can. Otherwise, it’s all happening now! The new record is coming out in Spring 2018 and singles are going to drop regularly up until its release.