So we are back at it today on a Wednesday here in New England. It is so good to be here and get to share the music & times of my guest, Constantine Riviere. He is a true musician with a new EP & video out now. Before we get to all that lets check on some music news via mi2n.com. First up, Warner Music Group (WMG) has relaunched its iconic Asylum Records label in the U.S. The label’s new incarnation is headed by long-time WMG executive Kenny Weagly, who has been named President. In addition, Grammy-winning producer Dante Ross has been named Senior Vice President, A&R. Next in music news, Amazing Music Tracks announces its free background music section to all creative video producers. Videographers, filmmakers, app & game developers, animators, web designers, YouTube video creators and many others often tirelessly search through royalty-free music websites for background music to enhance their creative projects. They want quick access to high quality production music and stock music at affordable license prices in order to gain both the highest level of satisfaction from their clients and a greater return on investment per project – https://www.amazingmusictracks.com. So now lets get to my guest today, Constantine Riviere. Like I mentioned he has a video out for ‘Eden’ and his ‘Room Service’ EP which has been out on Itunes has been getting heavy spins. Join us today as we chat about moving from France to the US, the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the video & song ‘Eden’, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and are you ready for winter?
CR: Hey there! I’m currently back in Dallas at the moment talking with you from a Starbucks. It’s actually funny that you’ve brought up winter because I’m seeing Holiday Coffee Blends everywhere but it’s almost 80 degrees today! Winter can’t get here soon enough in my book!!
Stoli: Being that you are Texas-based, do you miss not having seasons especially cold, snowy weather for the holidays?
CR: Nobody ever knows what’s going on with Dallas weather. A few years ago it iced and snowed at random times all year- it even snowed during our spring break! We can go through all seasons in one week, it seems!! I do really miss having a constant winter though. I grew up in Paris and winter break always used to be my favorite. The cold, the hoodies, the snow, the coziness- that’s what makes it winter for me. I’m definitely hoping Texas can deliver that this year… Holding out with all fingers crossed!
Stoli: How did your life change from living in France to the USA?
CR: You know, it’s a bit hard to break that down because the US feels so different from city to city. As far as comparing Paris to Dallas, it was a pretty big leap for me. For one, I went from speaking French everyday to English. I’ve always spoken both, but I was clueless to most of the American slang. I remember when I first learned that we were moving to Dallas, I was in highschool and my brother and I loaded up on Friends episodes to try and teach ourselves as much slang as possible… unfortunately I ended up sounding like Joey Tribiani for most of my freshman year! The other big difference is that we always walk everywhere in Paris. That kind of puts you out there and you see a lot more of what’s going on in the city. You get inspired, you see billboards, people, and stumble across new places and openings. In Dallas, we drive everywhere for the most part. It seems everything takes a bit more pre-planning and we find out what’s going on mostly online. I miss the spontaneity. Walking was also a free cardio session which helped balance out all the French pastries… which I still crave everyday. But Tex Mex has quickly become my staple! I can’t get away from Texas for too long or I start going through queso withdrawals!
Stoli: We are all horrified by the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. What do you think makes these men think that they can just kill people and destroy lives and families because they hate their own life?
CR: That was just so devastating and horrible. I feel so bad for all the families and everyone who suffered… it’s just been harder and harder to turn on the news with everything that’s gone on in the world lately. I can’t even imagine how sick in the head someone must be to do that.. I know its easy to draw conclusions based on their upbringing, behavior, anger, etc.. but none of that is worth the cost of somebody else’s life.
Stoli: When did you get into music and at what point did it become more than just a hobby?
CR: I’ve always loved music in general but I started pursuing it more seriously back in 2004. My parents had enrolled me in a few music lessons which eventually lead to singing courses as well. I didn’t actually start getting involved in writing music until 2007. I was living in Paris again at the time (I went back and forth a lot) and started out writing English lyrics for French singers. Even though they didn’t speak it, everybody thought they would make it with English songs. Soon enough I was in the booth singing some of the demos for them too.. which eventually lead to a few gigs laying vocals on karaoke demos too. When I moved back to Dallas, my focus shifted towards film production and most of my writing consisted of screenplays. In 2012, I started pre-production on a YouTube series that was going to be a dirty musical parody of Snow White and I met with local music producer Joe Trapani with the initial goal of having him produce the music for it. Of course, since nothing ever really goes as planned, that series was ultimately canned, but I found that I’d really enjoyed the process of writing lyrics again. So I started writing more and more and recording with Joe at his studio at least twice a week for the next few years. I’ve worked with a few producers over the years, but he was the one who really knew how to take the sounds that were in my head and turn them into songs. We had a great dynamic going- I’d sometimes have the lyrics first and then he’d come up with the music or vice versa. He also wasn’t scared to tell me when I was just making noise instead of music. And trust me, that happened a lot! But recognizing mistakes is a big part of it. I don’t ever want anybody spoon feeding me any criticism. I’d rather just take it on the chin and keep moving forward. It was a great dynamic and definitely helped me improve my skills.
Stoli: Growing up with your family – was music always playing and do your friends/family support your musical journey?
CR: There’s always been a huge focus on music in my family! My dad was a drummer for a jazz band and my mom did musical theater as well as teaching jazz dance classes. That dynamic lead to a lot of different sounds always being played around the house. My dad favored jazz, the blues, and a lot of world music whereas my mom usually had pop on the radio. My brother and I both got into rock and pop rock when we were in our teens so that’s what pushed my parents to enroll us in courses. He plays guitar now whereas I learned the basics of keyboarding and got more into the songwriting side of things. I actually kept most of the music a secret from my friends until I felt it was ready and time to put it out there. Everybody’s been so supportive though and I’m always looking for excuses to get them in the videos or involved. Work is work but it’s always more fun when you’ve got a familiar face on set with you.
Stoli: If you could choose one artist’s career you would like to emulate – who would it be and why?
CR: That’s another tough question! There are so many different artists that I admire. I think Ed Sheeran’s at the top of his game right now. I really respect that he pens all of his songs and now he’s living out his dreams- he even made it onto Game of Thrones! Who wouldn’t want that? Hah. But that’s more coming from a career standpoint. Musically he writes a lot of midtempo love songs whereas I’m (sadly) much more about breakup songs. Maybe I’ll shift gears when I fall in love someday. More realistically, I really look up to Justin Timberlake. He’s got a good blend of both pop, RnB, and rock, and he really knows how to push out hits. He’s an actor too now, not to mention that he puts on a great show. I’d love to have a career that mirrors that.
Stoli: How much time per week do you devote to music and do spend a lot of time on social media promoting & networking?
CR: I’m always writing- my brain never turns off. I get random lyric ideas all of the time and usually jot them down on sticky pads and then go back to them later. The wall in my office is one big collage of scribbled notes! The bulk of my phone storage is also voice memos of song ideas. Some span a few years. It’s always exciting when I decide to develop one into a full song and then I go back and hear the rough idea that lead to it. I came up with the jingle for my first single, ‘Mickey D’s’, while I was in a drive through line. I still have that original voice memo and you can hear the honking and the employee asking for my order in the background! As far as social media and promotion goes, I try to plan things out strategically but sometimes I can get in a bit over my head. I produce all of my music videos and occasionally the editing postpones some of them, so I have to rush other projects out instead. Still, it’s important to constantly keep yourself out there, especially when you’re just starting out. I’ve started making some great new connections now that there is more of my music out there. I think I average to about 3 music posts a week and then a few fun posts in between- but that’s still not enough! I’m going to try and go big for 2018. My new year’s resolution is at least 4 music posts a week- minimum! Y’all might be seeing a lot more Constantine antics haha!!
Stoli: I love the video & song ‘Eden.’ When did you create that song and what inspired the lyrics to match the visuals in the video?
CR: Thank you! I was very hesitant to put it out actually. My first EP, ‘Room Service’, was a lot more tongue in cheek and radio friendly. ‘Mickey D’s’ and ‘Take 5!’ were both so playful and their videos were wacky, fun, and all over the place! The EP slowed down a bit for some sad breakup songs, but nothing ever as deep as ‘Eden’. So for the first follow-up, I was a bit worried that it would be a tonal clash. The song deals with addiction, both physically and mentally, and the motions of going through withdrawal, which was something that I had battled with for a while. You go through so many phases- pointing the blame, hating yourself, relapsing, and sometimes just being addicted to the fact that you’re addicted in the first place. It’s a very personal and shameful process that is unfortunately seen all too often. Luckily I’ve been clean for a few years now and one of the ways I dealt with getting here was writing. All of that eventually turned into ‘Eden’ and when my producer Joe presented me with the rough instrumental, everything just clicked and fell into place. I was inspired by Alice in Wonderland for the music video- I wanted it to feel like a moving painting of a beautiful trip that quickly degenerates into something weird and then bad.
Stoli: When do you find that you are most inclined & creative to sit down and write/record new music?
CR: I get some of my best ideas at 2 in the morning! I’ll wake up and start recording take after take into my phone, much to the dismay of my roommate!! I like to get the ideas out there before I forget them. Then I go back to them over and over again until I’ve got a concrete idea of how I want the song to go. I get some rough lyrics going (if I haven’t already started with them) and then we start the process of adapting them to music. Based on the instrumental, I either completely switch it up or just polish what we’ve got and then it’s time to get in the booth and start recording. Granted, there’s always a lot of work to be done after and retakes etc.. but that’s the general process. Other times I’ll be presented with an amazing instrumental and I lock it down until I have time to come up with a melody and lyrics for it. I tend to write about my feelings and they always hit hardest after breakups, so that’s also another time when I’m usually inclined to write. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the listeners, the breakups keep coming haha. I have no plans to go totally Taylor Swift on y’all though… I’m trying my best to keep the breakup songs to a minimum!!
Stoli: What is coming up for Constantine Riviere and where you @ online?
CR: I’m glad you asked! I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my new EP, ‘Late Night Therapy’, which hits early next year! You’ve already got a little taste of it with ‘Eden’ and then the first single, ‘Organic’, drops in January. We’re putting together another fun trippy video for that. A few other highlights that we’re actually shooting for this week include a new break up anthem called ‘Marie Antoinette’ and the flirtatious ‘Friday Night’ which will follow shortly after.
Fans can keep up with all of my antics on Instagram and Facebook (@constantineriviere), twitter (@constantineriv), as well as at my website constantineriviere.com. They can see my videos and hear all of my music on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, and everywhere else online music is sold!