This week, our Artist of the Week is M. Rivers. We talked to M. Rivers to learn more about him, his music and what it was like to work with producer Jimmy Messer.Can you introduce yourself for people who don’t know you?Hi my name is Mark, also known as M. Rivers. I make music. I live in Venice Beach, California.How would you describe your overall sound?It dances and moves, it’s live and the dynamic. I believe it blends soul and rock n’ roll.What are some of your musical influences, and what are some non-musical influences?I have a very wide range of influences, old catalogue, would be artists like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the Stones and the Stooges and the Clash and the list goes on, newer stuff in comparison, I like Spoon, Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, Alabama shakes, Charles Bradley, Childish Gambino, The Roots, Cage the Elephant, I’m always influenced by great songs and great sounds. I was largely influenced by early 90’s hip hop when I was coming up, artists like Nas, Erik B and Rakim, KRS-One, The Pharcyde, Lords of the Underground, Black Moon, Tribe Called Quest, etc….What was the writing & recording process like creating your new album, Champion, particularly – working with Jimmy Messer and a label like Parts & Labor?It was a lengthy process, and with experimentation both sonically and vocally, it took a year to dial in an aesthetic I was pleased with and that felt authentic and important. I studied alot during this album, and I never once cut a corner on a lyric and made a recording and moved on because of time restraints or budget. The was a lot of co-writing on the album, and musically I really felt comfortable in my own skin allowing the best idea in the room to take precedent. Overall, I wanted to write an album that would translate to the stage, and the order and dynamic of the songs was extremely important to me, the tempos and keys for example had to make a coherent experience for the listener. I know people generally don’t buy albums anymore, but what was great working with the label was that our goal from the beginning was to build an entire LP that could stand the test of time. I had a blast recording female background vocals, and a killer three piece horn section. Something in my 15 years of recording I have not really done.What is your dream collaboration? So many great ones, Tom Petty for one RIP, it will have to remain a dream.What is your songwriting process like? So I’ve kind of touched a bit on it in the earlier questions, but if we talk about the initial phase of writing when an idea strikes me or I get something sent to me from the music gods, I just try and get out of the way. I just try and feel, feel the moment, the vibrations, the register, the emotion, mostly the songs don’t start with lyrics they start with feeling and a melody. Instrumentally with the piano, bass or guitar it doesn’t really matter, I’ve written so many songs with just the beat. It’s important for me to write in as many different ways possible, so my process is always changing but one constant is feel.
Fun Questions!Coffee or Tea? CoffeeCurrent obsession song? the boss – James BrownFavorite T.V. show? I love the Netflix series Peaky BlindersSong you wish your wrote? Any Tom Petty songOcean or Pool? Ocean