Exclusive Interview: Genre-Defying Man Of Music, M. Rivers, Shares His Sonic Insight
You've probably jammed out to Redlight King's alt-rock anthems once or twice. The king himself, Mark Kasprzyk, has since changed musical tracks. Setting aside the radio-friendly rap rock, he now releases an eclectic blend of psychedelic rock 'n roll under the moniker M. Rivers. His album, Champion, dropped a few months ago and it's a pretty gnarly indicator of his genre-bending talents.
Champion opens with "Until You're Dead," rumbling with gritty rev-your-engines rhythms before steady percussion kicks in. M. Rivers' vocals are captivating; a soulful growl merges with breathy falsetto above indie-rock crescendos. "One More Hit" begins with an energetic instrumental, toned down by a hidden piano line and expanded by in-your-face percussion and vocal hooks. The album's title track comes next, otherworldly in the most delicious way. A funky beat pulses throughout the whole song, joining slick 80s dance beats and jangling jolts of rhythm, all while M. Rivers moves between distant howling to sultry talk-singing. "Champion" is crammed with sonic details that bombard the senses, an intriguing concoction of soulful modern pop. "Something To Die For" offers a shimmering, dreamy soundscape. It's a subtle ballad with quick wordplay and sparkles of keys and percussion that move the tune along with a muted passion.
On "Nobody Wins," complex layers of slamming percussion blend with a creeping piano line to create a brooding arrangement carried by bittersweet vocals. Next is "In My Bones," opening with an extravagant orchestration quickly drowned out by dance-pop rhythms. M. Rivers' vocals shine here, experimenting with fuzzy tones and soulful riffs for an instant radio hit. Champion ends with the upbeat "Give Me Your Love," a rock 'n roll jam led by quick, warped delivery and a heavy guitar line. The theme here is distortion, from the groggy vocals to the punchy guitar to the overall chaos that abounds.
Champion is a collection of top-notch sing-alongs. The warbling rock 'n roll elements are evident, though they make room for the rich soul components that provide substance for these addictive dance tunes. Here, M. Rivers reinvents himself in a glorious rebirth. His talent spans across multiple genres as depicted throughout his thoughtful, complex productions, and if this record is any indication of the new direction he's taking, we will follow M. Rivers wherever he goes.
Listen to Champion below and read on for an exclusive interview between The Music Mermaid and M. Rivers:
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
M. Rivers: I've been a recording artist for 15 years. My newest project is a solo effort and blends rock 'n roll with soul.
TMM: You grew up in Canada and are now based in Los Angeles -- what are the music scenes like in both locations and how have they influenced your own work?
M. Rivers: I've really gotten to a place where my surroundings are affecting me less and I just concentrate on creating a space in the studio with its own vibe where I can see my vision through.
TMM: How has your music evolved since making the switch from your Redlight King project to putting out solo work under your M. Rivers moniker?
M. Rivers: Overall I see it as vibier. The vocals are more dynamic and refined -- the music reflects that. The individual parts are more interactive with each other and I focused on counterpoint and melody more so than my previous projects.
TMM: What are the advantages and disadvantages of rebranding as a musician?
M. Rivers: Not all of my previous fans are going to support the change, so I face the challenge of building a new audience, which is essentially like starting again. However, a new name births an opportunity and allows the music to speak for itself without bias or ego involved which is all I could ever ask for.
TMM: Can you talk about the production process behind Champion?
M. Rivers: Real people playing real instruments. It was a very traditional process. After the song was written, I'd lay some ghost tracks down and we'd cut drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals and overdubs in that order. For me, it was about keeping the takes that were the most believable and cool -- not always the best technically.
TMM: What was the songwriting process like? What are some central themes you chose to dwell on?
M. Rivers: Most of the songs were written on guitar or piano, with the exception of a few on bass or with a beat. I concentrated on tempos and singing in the right keys in the early stages, and messing with a few different tones to get a vibe to help with the lyrics. There was no central theme from the start. I started writing songs and after I had a few, I decided what the corners of the album would look like and then started to fill in the blanks. The intention was always to make an emotional, fast-paced, dynamic, heartfelt record, and never to repeat myself within the context of the overall vision.
TMM: In what ways has social media supported your music career?
M. Rivers: One of the intimate ways it has supported me is the ability for fans of my work to contact me and share their experience with my music. It's my biggest passion and to be of service is a wonderful thing.
TMM: You’re big into antique cars, but what other hobbies or passions do you have that your fans might not know about?
M. Rivers: I'm a hockey fan and I love design, fashion, and building things. I enjoy art galleries and painting (I was an art major in college). Definitely riding motorcycles, going out, and seeing other artists and bands play.
TMM: Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?
M. Rivers: I'd like the world to hear myself! And in light of their recent passing, Charles Bradley and Tom Petty.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for M. Rivers?
M. Rivers: I'm going to the gym and then I'm going to rehearse.