Q&A: Have You Met… River Nelson

River Nelson Promo Pic (Medium)

Native New Yorker, River Nelson has carved out a respectable following for himself in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the globe, with widespread press acclaim and radio support from the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and Giles Peterson.  In 2010 River worked with legendary UK producer Lewis Parker and the two created the critically praised The Rise & Fall of River Nelson, described by The Independent as “full of thoughtful sentiments and a positive attitude set to infectious symphonic-soul beats”. This was followed in 2013 with The Shape of The Sky, and his third album How to Dream in 2016, followed by the EP Navigation in 2017.

River Nelson’s latest album Power, Resilience, & Joy has hip hop at its very core. Emphatically speaking from his personal experience which have helped define him, Nelson’s words offer a sense of comfort in how to revive and find joy through bad times.

River offered some time to ask a few questions on his influences, writing process and collaborations:

How did you get into the music you currently make today? Did you play an instrument growing, or from writing poems?

It really came from being a fan first and that led me to become an artist. It turned out that I was so inspired by the artists of my youth, I wanted to create my own songs. I started writing poetry a little after that. But being a fan and studying hip-hop albums is what initially fueled me to write.

Do you have any other creative outlets, like painting or design?

I do have other outlets outside of songwriting, but they still relate to writing. I write poems, stories, and articles on hip-hop history. I’d like to write a novel one day as well.

Who were your influences growing up, and how have they impacted your music?

There’s way too many to name them all, but growing up I was most inspired by A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, Outkast, Nas, Bob Marley, Sade and The Doors.

I noticed you’ve toured with artists like Common, Talib Kweli and Kelis, what was it like to tour with them, and how did being with those inspire the music you create?

It was cool but also bitter sweet because some of those shows didn’t work out exactly as planned. But the fact that I got the opportunity was life changing, and it told me to keep working and keep pushing. Because one day you’re writing songs in your living room, and the next someone asks if you want to open up for Common.

What advice would you give to younger artists trying to make it in the music industry?

You can’t be everything to everyone, so find out what you’re musical niche is and work on developing a level of mastery over it.  Also, don’t wait around for anyone to launch your dreams or care about your art as much as you do. Put the work in yourself, create your own noise and then it’ll be easier for you to navigate through the music industry. Because then you’ll have leverage.

Which artists in the current crop would you love to collaborate most with?

I would say the main ones off the top of my head are the rapper YBN Cordae, Joey Bada$$, J. Cole, as well as his artists EarthGang and J.I.D. Plus, the singer H.E.R.

Do you listen to any artists in the UK, if so, who and what do you think of them?

Oh yeah, of course, Lewis Parker, Giggs, Skepta, Jhest, and the singer Davina Oriakhi are just some that come to mind. Not to mention, Sade and the rock bands from the UK that I’m into like Radiohead and Coldplay. I think all of those artists are super talented and they constantly inspire me.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

I’m going to keep promoting the new album “Power, Resilience & Joy,” play shows and work on the next LP.

Check out the video to his single ‘Today’ taken from his recent album Power, Resilience, & Joy:

Q&A: Have You Met… Kinkajous

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How did you guys meet, and what drew you to each other?
We [Adrien and Ben] met many years ago when Adrien was looking for a new drummer for his band. As we played together, we started to feel the need for something else, a platform that would have more sonic flexibility, and would give us more freedom in our writing.

Although we were very much into jazz, we were really interested in electronic and system music. We also both come from a more orchestral background and it is something that we wanted to translate in our sound in some way. The rest of the band was formed over time to make up the lineup we have today.

You have quite eclectic, free-flowing vibe around your music, how do you work as a team to write?

A lot of the time, Adrien or myself [Ben] would come up with an idea, more or less formed, and we would start working on it together. We would keep on going back and forth, working on it individually then together again until we get to a point that we are both comfortable with.

The whole process is very free and open. Then we would take it to the band and fine tune it as a group. We try to play with different mediums, tools and ways of writing — it helps us to keep on challenging ourselves creatively.

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Has music always been a big part of your lives?

We’ve all been playing from a very young age and we all studied music quite early on. Some of us have been brought up in quite musical families. When you play an instrument for such a long time, it eventually evolves from this thing that you do to become your way of life.

So you’ve had the opportunity to perform your music to a number, is there a performance that sticks out as being particularly special, if so why?

Each show is special in its own way. Our very last show in Nottingham comes to mind. We had just released our record and the spirits were very high. Nottingham being the hometown of our label, Running Circle, it felt like a big family gathering.

We were also joined by people that were heavily involved in the making of the album, some old friends and an incredible crowd. It felt like a real celebration. Music has this powerful capacity to bring people together and create this sense of community that is very precious.

Which artists or genres of music would you say most influence what you guys create?

It’s difficult to say how much of an influence they have on our music (if any) but there is quite a wide mix of artists we always go back to. Steve Reich is one of them, the way he works with rhythms, layers instruments together and his way of shaping sonic textures is fascinating. Floating Points and Flying Lotus always make their way back to our turntable as well.

A lot of jazz, spiritual jazz, and heavy electronic, orchestral music in many forms too. But although all of these influences might infuse in our sound in some way, our music is more of a patchwork of places and past experiences. This is something we’ve tried to embrace while writing Hidden Lines.

Outside of music, what do guys enjoy doing most?

Cooking, eating and good wine.

Finally, what can we expect from you guys for the rest of the year?
We have some shows coming up, and will be touring the new album. We also have an album launch party in September at The Pickle Factory in London, which we are very excited about. Writing this album has been a very inspiring and insightful process that opened a world of possibilities. We’re slowly getting back in the studio to explore it some more.

Kinkajous will be performing at London’s Pickle Factory September 5th, you can buy tickets via Songkick

You can buy their latest album via bandcamp, or stream on spotify:

Q&A: Have You Met.. Idris Miles

 

Touted as one of the artists to watch for this year, Idris Miles has continual proven stage presence and rapping ability on numerous occasions already this year. Headlining at The Pit LDN’s showcase in East London’s Ace Hotel earlier in January, Idris now moves to a different stage at the 02 Academy Islington this Friday April 5th.

Idris took some time out to answer our short Q&A:

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Idris Miller a.k.a Idris (pronounced Eye-Dris) Miles.  I’m an artist and songwriter, based in Essex.  I was born around a family of musicians and artists, and I have always had a love for music from a young age, which led me to start writing songs  and poetry in school at 12 years old.

Things have been picking up for you recently, you’ve been nominated for an award, you’ve had more shows, how do you stay level headed and focused?

Yeah! To be perfectly honest, I’ve been enjoying the process so much. I’m around an amazing team who have been supporting and helping me make moves and the efforts are really paying off. I’m also hungry for more so that’s helping me keep focused and humble. There’s so much more to achieve and I’m aware of that now more than ever.

Do you produce your own beats, what’s your team like around you?

I produce from time to time but I also have some amazing producers around me too like, Ryan-J who has been my G from day! I also have some new music coming out soon with some amazing producers who I’ve wanted to work with for ages now so I’m excited. But like I said, the team I have right now is dope and we’re all progressing together like a family so it’s only a matter of time till we’re at the point of achieving big things.

Where do you take your inspiration? From you fashion sense, to your music

I think I subconsciously take inspiration from everything around me. It’s been a lifetime since I’ve said “Oh, I wanna do it like that guy” because right now I’m trying to establish myself as a brand and basically just be me… But saying that I also like to support designers and brands that are close to me such as AM By Anna Makri, Sarah Garfield , Josiah Amari.. I’m a fan of them all!

You’ve been working quite closely with The Pit LDN, how did that relationship come about, how have they helped your career so far?

Big up to the Pit every time! I went to one of their Cyphers back in 2016 and they’ve supported ever since, I can’t even express my gratitude as they’ve been responsible for some big milestones in my career including my headline show at Ace Hotel last year and my first ever Rinse FM radio play! Yeah big them up.

Check his performance for SoulMate LDN at London, Brixton’s Ritzy:

Which musicians do you look up to most in the UK or outside of it?

I love a lot of UK music at the moment, which actually makes me happy, it’s nice to see our culture on form and shining. People like Little Simz, Octavian, Kojey, A2, Che Lingo… Those are artists I look up to. Just pure talent and artistry in everything that they do! In terms of outside of UK? There’s so many names… Dreamville, Sevdaliza, Jacin Trill, Mick Jenkins, Goldlink, Tierra Whack… The list can go on!

To try and speak some things into existence, name three artists you love to collaborate with over the next couple years in the UK?

I WILL MAKE A SONG WITH A2 AND KOJEY RADICAL. That is all I will say, let the universe do its thing!

Finally, what can expect from your show at the O2 Academy Islington?

Just my essence, like in every show! Energy, emotion, passion… I love it! And I hope everyone that comes through enjoys it too! I’m just excited to achieve yet another great moment in my life and it will definitely show on stage!

Click here to buy tickets to his show at the 02 Academy Islington 

Check out the raw video to his track RUN: