Check out our interview with Toronto based group rIVerse. Their mission statement is to "represent the underrepresented." On Juneteenth they released the music video for "Stand Up" as a call to action against police brutality and systemic racism. Check it out and follow them for more! Stand Up, Speak Out, Keep Fighting. Black Lives Matter.
Interview questions by: Misao McGregor
Can you start by introducing yourselves and what you do in the band?
What is up ladies & gentlemen & genders! We are rIVerse. We are Dizz, Khadija, Zak & Monroe and we’re a pop/r&b group with a mission to represent the underrepresented. All four of us offer vocals & dance as well as representation of people from different backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, body types, etc. coming together to share our music and our message with the world!
Can you give us a little backstory about how the band was formed back in 2012?
The four members of rIVerse met over a decade ago, as cast members of a live stage production of Disney’s High School Musical 2. We did two runs of the successful production and, in the following years, Dizz invited each member to be part of the musical group he was putting together. And the rest is history!
What inspired your mission to represent the underrepresented?
Our mission came naturally through us recognizing that our strength comes from our diversity. At the beginning of our career, whenever we released music or performed on stage, the element that drew audiences toward us the most - and made them want to remain with us throughout our journey - was the representation we offer to so many who don’t see themselves represented in mainstream media. The moment we chose to fully embrace ourselves and be completely authentic in our artistry was when we started to see the biggest shift in the success of our career.
What does it mean to you to represent the underrepresented?
To us, this phrase is about increasing visibility of marginalized communities. The message we try to tell the world with everything we create is that all people - no matter their race, gender, age, size, sexual orientation, socio-economic status - are worthy of happiness, success, fulfillment and seeing their dreams come true. We hope when members of marginalized communities can see artists they relate to on screens or on stage, they can know they aren’t alone and feel encouraged to achieve their own goals in life.
What advice would you give to up and coming artists who come from marginalized backgrounds and/or identities?
Aside from working hard at your craft, studying, learning, surrounding yourself with others who can teach and inspire you… we want to encourage self-love and belief in your own abilities. On our YouTube platform, we share a mantra at the end of several of our videos: #BWVL - “I am Beautiful, I am Worthy, I am Valued, I am Loved.” We encourage our fans to say this declaration, out loud, everyday! So if/when others tell you that you aren’t good enough because you don’t fit into society’s picture of “the ideal type,” you can remember how to look inside and find the magic within to keep moving forward towards your goals.
Within our current social climate, what kind of change do you hope to see in the music industry?
We would love to see the shift towards more representation in the music industry continue. Already, we’ve seen artists like Lizzo and Lil Nas X showing complete self-acceptance and self-love and having huge mainstream success. Even the impact of k-pop in western music is offering a lot of major representation of non-Eurocentric artists. We want to keep pushing this boundary and seeing more artists sharing their own stories and experiences. Systemic change will come from EVERYONE expanding their minds and seeing perspectives outside of just one narrative.
Especially now with no touring due to COVID-19, how can people best support you as a band? And where is the best place for people to follow you?
Supporting independent artists is always important, but in 2020 with COVID-19, it’s even more necessary because most of us have lost our biggest sources of income (especially with the summer season being lost). Support your faves!!! For us, we love Patreon because we are able to directly connect and share some extra content with the people who truly support our music and our mission. For anyone who’d prefer, we also have a donation button set up on our Spotify account. Across all social media, our handle is @riverselive - come follow and shoot us a message! We’d love to say hello!