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INTERVIEW: Rhio

Hi Rhio, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been great and am very excited and hopeful for my new jazz album, A Rhio Good Thing. We put a lot of time and effort into the project. The creative part is always a joy, but promoting the album is important to give it a good chance for success. That’s what’s keeping me very busy at the moment.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Strange Times”?

Strange Times is a song written by my partner, writer/producer Leigh Crizoe, and it reflects the turbulent political times we live in.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Leigh wrote this song to express our mutual outrage with the injustice and racism perpetrated by corporations, governments, the police, etc. and  the entitlements co-opted by them. Just today, the news is reporting another shooting of an unarmed black child in Pittsburgh by the police.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We are planning to do a video this summer, but have chosen another song from the album for its playful and sensual nature.

Namely, I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl,

The single comes off your new album A Rhio Good Thing – what’s the story behind the title?

The title comes from the similarity between the words Real and Rhio, especially when spoken. It’s a play on words. Instead of A Real Good Thing, It’s  A Rhio Good Thing…

How was the recording and writing process?

Picking out the songs to record was difficult because there are so many great songs to choose from, and I would like to sing them ALL! We also introduced 4 originals written by Leigh Crizoe, one of them co-written with Eugene Orland, that we hope will resonate with our audience. The recording was done at Beso Recording Studios in Harlem, NYC. I feel very grateful and blessed to have worked with such wonderful musicians.

What role does NYC play in your writing?

Leigh wrote the original songs and he loves NYC. We both relocated to NYC from Southern California. I can’t speak for Leigh, but I think that the city just inspires him in so many ways. There is so much diversity, culture, excitement and street life here too. Leigh just loves seeing musicians working on the streets or in the subways. Of course, I know that he’d wish for there to be more venues for musicians to be employed in the city.  But still, if you are in the subway and a talented musician sings or plays for you, it’s one of the surprising little  pleasures of city life.

How your upbringing has influence your music?

I almost let go of my singing ambitions when the head of the music dept. at my high school suggested that I NOT sing. After that I didn’t sing again for four years. Then one fortunate day I met someone who was into music and working with a Latin band, and he asked me to sing. I said, “Oh no, I can’t sing.” And he said “Yes you can… I can hear it in your speaking voice.” He started coaching me, and I regained my confidence. My first performances were in the Spanish language, and I particularly love the strong melodies of Latin love songs.

Growing up, we always had a lot of music around. One of my first influences was Ray Tico, one of the best-loved musical geniuses of Costa Rica. A recording he made in my Mom’s living room is one of my most treasured possessions.

Any plans to hit the road?

For now, we will be working locally, but If we get some airplay on this album, we hope to organize a national tour.

What else is happening next in Rhio’s world?

My partner Leigh has written a movie he calls The Toon Chicks. It’s a combination of live action and animation. It’s about a female singing group (with me as one of the members) that winds up in a very unusual situation while trying to make it in the music business. It has some really great songs, both standards and originals, along with a story line that has a lot of laughs and a few tears. We are now in the beginning stages of finding financing.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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