THE RIVEN is an electrifying powerhouse – envision Heavy Blues Rock, focusing on big choruses and mean riffs. Progressive, psychedelic and classical musical elements standing side by side with a soulful and vigorous voice. These guys sound as cool as rock can sound nowadays! And the chat with Totta was really cool and analytic.
Hello Totta, before talking about your debut album I would like to know more about your story. You started your adventure in the UK. Afterwards you moved to Sweden where I think you have established, curious at least. What reason was behind that move?
We decided to move to Stockholm cause we were done in London for the time being. All of us felt Stockholm would be a good idea, having a solid rock scene and future adventures to come. We never considered how far it is from the rest of Europe though haha!
At the beginning there were 3 of you: singer Totta Ekebergh, guitarist Arnau Diaz and bass player Max Ternebring. How did the band grow from that?
Drummer Olof was someone we knew about, a friend of a friend type of thing. One night he came to a party at our house where we persuaded him with to join the band, the rest is history.
It was in London were you recorded your first songs included in the EP ‘Blackbird’. It raised high expectations. A surprise to you or you were confident in yourselves from the very beginning?
The songs we wrote for the ‘Blackbird’ EP were all very close to our hearts and something that came very natural to us. Once Olof had joined and the songs came together we all felt we had something together. With that said it’s always a surprise when someone likes what you do and it has definitely made us hungry for more!
How long did you need to compose and record the new songs and how was the process?
Well, we wrote some of the songs when on tour in Finland summer of 2017 and then some more when we took a writing month in the south of Sweden moving from London to Stockholm. The last song though was written just a couple of weeks before going to Madrid and the last lyrical pieces in the recording studio. All in all I’d say it took us about 7 months. The recording we finished in about a week, laying drums and bass first and then gradually building from there. ‘When I recorded the vocals, me and producer Ola decided no one else from the band was aloud which gave us a creative and free work space’
To be sincere, I don’t very often get surprised by a rock band, it doesn’t mean that I do not enjoy it but most of the bands are much predictable. It’s not The Riven case, your proposal is cool enough, what do you think?
That’s nice to hear! I think it has to do with us being very diverse, stubborn and the fact that we all songwrite together. There is not a single part of our music that hasn’t been challenged and processed through everyone’s minds and thoughts. We also don’t hold any prestige, what comes out stays if it’s good, there’s no mould or one fits all.
For those who have never listened to your music I would dare to say that Totta Ekebergh’s voice is something as a hurricane, as an oceanic storm, full of shades and twists, an amazing voice that even could give life to a middle age letany…
First of all I must say I’m very flattered! And maybe someone but me should answer but I can say that I’ve been taking singing seriously for a long, long time and I have, since being a child in a choir, nourished the lower end of my voice. This means that I later in life have a wide range to play around with. There’s no better feeling than being in the eye of the storm in a song. Meaning the sensation of my voice being an instrument joining the dynamic changes and directions from the other instruments. This is where I lose myself and have nothing else going on in my head!
And you transmit it in every song of the album. The songs are beautifully built, rock with a progressive and atmospheric edge that marks the difference with the typical rock band
We think it’s because we’re not the typical rock band. We have a lot of progressive, AOR and Heavy metal influences leaving us in a sea of impressions that we then try and pull together creating what you hear in the album.
When you compose your songs you are thinking to make something different, out of the usual picture, or it all comes in a natural way?
We do songwrite together, all four of us. Usually one of us have an idea that we bring to the rehearsal room and then we build on it from there. We have a lot of fun and there’s also a serious amount of banter going on. We argue but we also laugh a lot. It’s a love and hate process really.
Cool, and maybe there lies the magic, fun&serious… The whole band really sounds perfect, but as a guitar lover I really appreciate the delicacy and feeling of Arnau’s guitars
Arnau’s a great guitarist! He love’s to solo like any guitarist I guess but he also knows when to take a step back, leaving room for the vocals for example. He brings a lot of colour to the songs bridging the vocals and bass together. He’s not afraid to try new things, layering some nice harmonics and melodies and I guess he has a bit of that spanish touch, haha!
There are songs as “I Remember” where it seems you just put the spotlights for you to display all your power and grace, with a more oriented blues touch
It’s true, it has more of a raw blues/soul touch. I love the old school blues and soul artists and to create a song like “I Remember” was very close to my heart. It came very natural and it’s great to pour your heart out once in a while.
Any favorite song in the album?
Finnish Woods. It’s the last song of the album, it takes you on a journey, leaving you a bit weary.
What are the lyrics about? One would imagine that with Totta’s voices you would be singing about angels, demons and celestial happenings or the like hahaha
The lyrics are very varying. Some are more about things you’d go through from a person’s perspective, while others are describing the way you interpret the world and its people on it. I, singer, write most of the lyrics and I enjoy it very much. I’m a very analytical person so writing lyrics is a great outlet for all those thoughts and concerns going on in my head!
With the personality The Riven show is virtually impossible not to think about your live shows? Any intention to tour around?
We do have a lot of intention haha! And some tours are starting to take shape. We are at the writing moment going to France in April and Spain in June with a few gigs in Germany as well. All the information is to be found in our facebook page.
If you have come to Madrid for the recording of the album, I suppose a visit to smash the stages with your songs will be in mind, won’t it?
It most certainly will! We’ll post confirming dates for our Spain tour shortly. Keep your eyes peeled!
Excellent. The last and classical question: they say rock is forever, like any music as long as anyone listen to it, but then, it seems you are the proof that rock can be also surprising. How do you see the scene nowadays and what do you expect from the future?
We love what we do and we have every intention to keep going for as long as possible with our music. We see the scene “dying” cause things are not what it used to be. It’s definitely changing but we don’t know yet if it’s really for the worse. I think the music scene has seen it’s low point for a while and that it’s on a up swing again. Just think of classic sales going to streaming, for both music and films. This doesn’t mean people are not interested anymore, it’s just different. I believe live shows and reaching out through content is the way to go. There’s just so much going on today and there’s no big labels or radio channels sorting everything out for the listeners which can be both good and bad. I believe things are going to change even more though in the next five to ten years. Our old music heroes are getting older, while their music is eternal, unfortunately so are not they. Someone needs to carry on the legacy and put on a show for all the rock fans out there!
Thanks Totta and congratulations for your great album!
Thanks guys! We just want to add that we are going to Spain in June and that it would great to see as many of you there as possible! Also there’s a new single coming out on the 22/2 so keep out for that! In the meantime. Have a good one, and we’ll see you soon in Spain! // Totta