Rillivid - Interview - Stereo Stickman

Rillivid Interview


Rillivid is an artist and producer who crafts intensely varied creative soundscapes ranging from ambient electronica to trip-hop to even a touch of the much heavier side of EDM. His music is always deeply atmospheric and comes from a place of genuine emotion and a passion for making music. We were keen to find out more about his creative process and his plans for the future. Here’s the interview in full. 

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Hi David. Thanks so much for your time today, after listening to your music over the past twelve months it’s a pleasure to be able to chat to you about your work and your creative process.

What does it mean to you to be able to create your own music and share it with the world?

It means so much to me. I’ve tried a lot of different avenues in my life but the one thing that always stuck with me was music. Even at a young age it seemed so amazing to me that music is the one thing all cultures share. It feels nice adding to that experience and it’s nice being able to share how much I care about being a part of it.

How much of your week is spent creating music? Do you sit down with the intention of writing / composing or do you wait for inspiration to strike?

I like to say every song I write I approach as an artist but I plan as a producer. Both inspiration and experimentation always have a hand. Whenever I have inspiration I immediately write it down and whenever the inspiration is running low I start to experiment to sort of rekindle that process and get new ideas. One of the reason I love using electronic tools is the experimentation end is REALLY open ended for me which I love.

I devote anywhere between 4-6 days a week but there are exceptions in projects like Mind’s Journey where the final stretch of that was one week to rest and assess progress and sort of pace myself. Then after I just a did solid 6 ½ days of solid work for the final stretch. That album really felt like a marathon since a lot of the songs were works in progress I had worked with for a long time wondering how to complete them. It felt good to see it all so consistent and complete. I aim to get that feeling of satisfaction with anything I write and it forces me to surprise myself sometimes.

Where did the name Rillivid come from?

That is actually a kind of funny story. I was taking letters of my actual name and making new names with the same letters. Then when I came up with Rillivid I sort of laughed at the name sounding like “Real Livid” because in my youth I had terrible issues with my temper. Considering I made up this alias after absolving that issue it sort of felt like a kind of badge of honor for overcoming my issues.

Who or what inspired you to get involved in music?

I had always grown up around it. The benefits of being the son of a music teacher was I could have shot at trying out any instrument I wanted. It also helped that I had a family with a lot of different musical tastes that definitely helped give a feel to how diverse music really was. In school I did well with a lot of programs but for the longest time in an academic setting I never wrote my own songs. I just played the music of musicians and bands I loved at the time.

Then real life hit me after college. I tried a lot of different careers and none of them ever stuck and not to mention not all were exactly safe. I started to feel kind of empty as a person after and given I was depressed and trying to cope at the time music became a lifeline for me.

In that time one of my friends introduced me to electronic music and being a band kid growing up I had never been exposed to it. I had briefly heard of it growing up but it was either some club stereotype in a film or one of my music instructors complaining about it. I was really fascinated by how different it was and while trying to put my life back together I spent so much time looking up electronic artists both new and old. It felt like a whole world had been opened up to me.

It was then I decided music was the only thing that had stuck with me all this time and electronic music gave me such a new set of tools to work with. In my opinion Rillivid is my attempt at overcoming my anger and depression. I stay and keep doing it because electronic means rekindled my love for music. Enough so I stopped playing other people’s songs on my instruments and started writing my own material.

Do you ever struggle to get started or to find inspiration, and if so, how do you overcome this (if at all)?

Inspiration can be difficult at times. Sometimes it can be because the topic covers a heavy chapter of my life, lack of ideas, etc. Even when I experiment to rekindle it sometimes it doesn’t work. Some ideas can’t be forced. I either start working again on another song or take time to get more inspiration. I’m a big fan of going outdoors, meditating or just doing activities to ground myself. That and there’s always new music for me to find. That can help my writer’s block immensely at times.

Would you say your creativity extends further than music, and if it does – how so?

I’d say yes. A lot of my work is drawn from personal experiences I’ve had, things I’ve felt, loved ones I’ve lost, etc. and I like to use electronic means to show it can still show those emotions despite the fact I’m using digital tools a lot. In all honesty it does reinforce what I believe and those beliefs are very strong. I want to use that and my creativity to give back. That kind of stuff really can make a difference. It’s why I decided to do it myself.

That and I also I’ve drawn and done some sketching/inking since high school and sometimes it’s a fun excuse to incorporate it into music at times with cover art like in my Twitter / Soundcloud banners or art for songs like Space Madness. Another outlet outside of this music is writing. That and drawing are just sort of things I escape to at times to inspire my music again or vice versa.

Which of your releases are you the most proud of or do you feel the most connected to, and why?

When it comes to stuff I’m proud of production wise I’d say one of my favorites was a Marshmello Remix I did for a Splice contest. I don’t normally write very upbeat material so it was a real challenge to write something in a completely different style. I was really satisfied with that project.

When it comes to songs I connect to Finding Hope was something on my mind for a long time. I promised myself to write it when I was ready. I leave a lot of my work open to interpretation but the initial inspiration for Finding Hope was when I said no to suicide. Why at the end you can hear “Don’t give up on this life. You can still find a way to thrive”. It was an ultimatum to myself.

What are your plans for the coming months, what are you currently working on?

I actually have a song releasing November 3rd and another single to be released after but the release date for that one is still to be announced. As far as later projects, after debating it for some time I decided it was time to work on a new album. I really liked Mind’s Journey but it was exactly that – a story in my own head about me finding myself. I want my next album to really be a step from out of my own head and applying some inspiration from the world around me. I’m ready to tell a different story this time around.

How important is live music to you as an artist? Do you play regularly, and do you attend live shows as a fan – if so, any recommendations?

I still play instruments to this day. A lot of various keyboard parts in my songs have been by hand in between the synths I program. I know I might get some hate for saying it but I accept most electronic acts weren’t former musicians in traditional settings like I was and I have no right to demand they pick up a trumpet or a guitar like I did. It’s how I honestly feel. Still I believe in integrity and that a show should still be a show. Make it exciting and engaging, don’t do what they fully expect. I think some electronic acts really try to push their boundaries while others play way too safe.

A good example for me was when I saw U2 I knew to expect an engaging experience with the band members. It was intense to the point it could be felt. It really was the first time I really had a concert where I walked out of that stadium and felt more than satisfied. Then just this year I saw Deadmau5 for the first time live and knowing he designed that show himself. That the cube, the music and the creative direction was all his idea. He’s a totally different approach but I know he went an extra mile because I’ve seen other acts who don’t show that same sense of presentation or dedication to their work in the electronic scene. I knew to not hold him to the same standard as the bands I go see because what he does is a very different experience.

What advice can you give to aspiring musicians who are just getting started in crafting original music?

Don’t focus too heavily on perfection. Any career in music should be satisfying and if it doesn’t have a little fun in there it’s going to weigh you down. Music for me is therapeutic and that’s why I can maintain it. When looking for your own style don’t beat yourself up for trial and error. I’ll always have mistakes I know I could improve on.

This is a field where experimenting and pushing boundaries is key. All the artists I respect learned to adapt themselves to being better in new ways. That means risks will always be involved. Honestly for me the risks make it fun. Every new idea is a test of what I learned and what I still can learn. I encourage other artists to find their own niche. Be open to advice but also don’t let others talk down on something new or different you want to do simply because of it being different or that they “don’t get it”. Trust me I got that one a lot, haha.

What’s the bigger picture for you?

I think the bigger picture for me is making something that will make a difference for the time I’m in and that can lead to what I want to do tomorrow. Both in terms of my career and my life. The best any of us musicians can do is leave an example for others to receive as best we can. This is an ever changing field and it always will be. Life is very much the same way and it shows in our work. It’s why so much material is made to connect people. Music is the one language we all share and it’s why I like to add my voice to it.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

When I reflect about anything I’ve made or people I appreciate it’s all about learning. No matter how old I get I want to maintain being open to learning something new and being proven wrong. I think one of the worst things especially a creative person can do is declare they don’t want any further insight from the outside world. There’s times I’ve wanted to do the same from what pain I’ve felt but I realised if I want to create good material I need to be open to receive information as well. There’s always something I could do better.

Thanks so much for your time I really enjoyed these questions.

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A huge thank you to Rillivid for being so open & insightful with his answers. Find & follow him on FacebookTwitterReverbnation & Instagram.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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