A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of “About a Boy” on Netflix. The show is great, and during an episode I heard a song I really enjoyed. I grabbed my phone, opened up Shazam, and found the song was called “I Will Follow You.” The artist was Rivvrs. Who? I had never heard of this guy… I paused the show, went to Spotify and found a laundry list of songs from him. I became an immediate fan and reached out for an interview. Within a few days, he responded via Facebook and we scheduled an interview. Not only does he have an incredible voice, he’s also a really nice guy, too! It is my pleasure to introduce you to Rivvrs.
Before we get started… Tell me where the name Rivvrs came from. It’s unique, and I like it. Just not something you see every day.
Thanks for having me!
I went by my first and last name when I first started playing, mostly because it felt natural as a singer/songwriter. But as time went on, I started to feel like I was holding myself back using my own name, so I started a band called River Shiver; which is where the water theme came into play. I never really had a steady group lineup, so the transition to Rivvrs was pretty natural. My manager, Tony, and I were out to lunch one day after I had finished “I Will Follow You” and he asked me what I wanted to release the music as (at the time it was River Shiver). He threw out the idea Rivers with the double V. I loved the idea, but we didn’t really talk much more about it. He called me up a few weeks later to tell me “About a Boy” was using “I Will Follow You” and would be mentioning my name in the show; so we had to decide quickly what I wanted my name to be. We decided on Rivvrs. The spelling variation and double V gave it some uniqueness, and also the ability to copyright. (Laughs.)
Yeah, I first heard “I Will Follow You” on “About a Boy.” I really like that show, and loved the song… So I used Shazam to figure it out. Then I fell in love with your sound song for song. That being said, tell me how your song ended up on a hit TV show like that and what that has meant to you as a singer/songwriter.
Thanks so much for listening! I am forever grateful to that TV show.
My manager has a lot of ties to the TV and film placement world, and he sent “I Will Follow You” out to some of the music supervisors he knows. With TV placements, everything is timing, and “About a Boy” was looking for an original song to use. I’m from San Francisco, and that’s where the show is based, so I think using my music gave the show a sense of reality.
I thought it was really cool because if anyone looked me up after seeing the show, they would see that there really was a musician named Rivvrs in San Francisco, who really had been in a band called River Shiver, just like they say in the episode of the show. It was pretty surreal to me at the time.
Tell me your process for writing a new song. I am always intrigued where a songwriter starts, and how he or she gets from beginning to end.
There are always different approaches depending on my mood. It always has to feel inspired, whether I have an intention to write a new song or not. It almost always starts with a melody on the guitar or a lyric, and then a combination of the two. I keep hundreds of voice memos on my phone for the moments of inspiration and then I go back later on and piece things together. I usually have a handful of songs started simultaneously and then I slowly chip away at them until they are complete. I like working with other writers, because when it’s a collaboration, I tend to finish ideas a lot faster, because there’s twice as much motivation in the room. It’s usually really hard for me to focus on one song at a time.
You’ve written a lot of songs over the years. Is it possible to pick a favorite?
I think favorites change a lot. When I’m playing with the full band for a show, I tend to like certain songs more than others, and the same can be said when I play solo. Usually the newest songs reign favorite for a while, and then get replaced by something newer or older. Right now the songs I’m most excited for people to hear are “Ready to Begin” and “Conquer.” Both of these songs are on the new album.
Speaking of your new album, it is coming out in March. Tell me about that. I’ve seen some creative marketing campaigns for it. Can’t wait for the new album to drop!
I’m so excited to release it! It’s been in the works for over two years. It’s my first official full length album as Rivvrs and it’s called Unfamiliar Skin.
I think they’re my best songs. I made two music videos to release when the album comes out, and I’m raising money to release a third music video for my song “Conquer.”
I launched a pre-order through Kickstarter with a goal of raising $5,000. The hope is to make enough money to make the music video, but also to give people a chance to pre-order the album before anyone else. If you order the record before February 9th through Kickstarter, you’ll get it in the month of February, well before anyone else has a chance to hear it.
Tell me about your relationship with All Media Music Group.
I love All Media Music Group! They’re a media company who specializes in TV and film placements. I’m on their roster, and they pitch my songs for placements, which is how I get my songs placed into TV shows.
I want to see you live, but there aren’t any shows listed on your website. Any plans for a tour in 2016? If so, will you be stopping by Phoenix while you’re on the road?
I actually just announced the tour last week! The first run will just be in California, but I have plans for more stops soon. Here are the dates we’ve released thus far:
February 18 – Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, CA (Opening for Rickie Lee Jones)
February 23 – Casbah, San Diego, CA
February 24 – Slide Bar, Fullerton, CA
February 25 – Blind Tiger, Santa Barbara, CA
March 1 – Dirty Laundry, Los Angeles, CA
March 2 – Catalyst-Atrium, Santa Cruz, CA
March 3 – Mystic Theater, Petaluma, CA
March 5 – Neck of the Woods, San Francisco, CA
I am a big fan of Snow Patrol. I hear you’ve recently been on the road with Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. Tell me more about that.
I had multiple dates with Gary during his latest solo tour. Those shows are definitely going down as some of my favorites to have played so far. I grew up listening to Snow Patrol, so the opportunity was totally surreal to me and I feel incredibly lucky to have played with him. I learned a lot just by watching him onstage, he’s a really talented and nice dude.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
From the ages of 12-15, I think I almost exclusively listened to AC/DC and a few other hard rock bands from the 70s. Bon Scott was someone I idolized as a kid. As I got older, Tom Petty became one of my all time favorites. I really like bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Steve Miller Band. I also love more modern stuff with old school feeling, like Alabama Shakes and Paolo Nutini.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I went to a Bridge School Benefit Concert in Mountain View, CA in 2008 and I still think that was my favorite show to date. It’s a benefit concert put on every year by Neil Young and it has an all star lineup playing only acoustic sets. That year, it was Band of Horses, Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco, Norah Jones, Smashing Pumpkins, Jack Johnson, and Neil Young. All those bands in one night was insane!
When performing, do you play all originals, or do you also sing cover songs?
I stick to mostly originals, but I love covers! I have a handful of go to songs, but lately I’ve been working out some special covers with the band for the upcoming tour. If you can catch a show on the road, you’ll see what I mean.
What’s next for Rivvrs?
I’m releasing Unfamiliar Skin in March and touring California February/March, then it’s just a big push to get the album to as many people as possible. I definitely expect to have a lot more shows coming up soon, and I’m going to release a follow up EP later in the year. Otherwise, if you keep an eye on my website and social media stuff, I should be traveling a lot in 2016!
Thank you so much for doing this. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Yeah man, no problem! Thanks for having me!
All I really wanna say is just thank you! Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this or click on a link. I’m very grateful to be playing music for a living, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for the people listening to the music, and the people who share it with others. So thank you! I really hope the new album makes you feel good. That’s the main intention behind it.