Rivah’s WIld Debut Is Just The Beginning

Credit: Mia Forrest

Big things are coming Rivah’s way. Her debut single “Untame” was followed by her first shows ever throughout New York City. Her nerves were on the table as we talked about all the firsts she’s had this year. Also on deck was her similarity to Janet Jackson, and more.

Kendra: Even before I saw you were loving SZA, that’s the vibe I got from “Untame.” What I feel you both possess is what Janet Jackson I think brought to the forefront. It’s artists performing these sultry and powerful songs more for themselves than for show. It seems like you’re in a minority in that way though. So my question is, why do you feel some would rather perform for show than for themselves?

Rivah: Funny that you should ask this, I just read something today that stood out to me. It said, “Popularity contests are not truth contests – Your task is to be true, not popular.” I guess a lot of people get caught up, myself included, in trying to be cool in someone’s else’s eyes instead of being true.

Kendra: Now, this is your debut and it’s one hell of a debut. Congrats on that! Was there ever another song that you thought could be the one to start it all for you?

Rivah: Yeow! Yeah, I actually thought for a long time that we would start with another one of my songs, this one kinda snuck in last minute. The other one is more of a banger, more upbeat, a bit more commercial. But then when this track was complete it had this kind of oozey power and it just felt like the right first move.

Kendra: “Untame” was written back when Prince passed. The day of actually. Do you feel like his presence in the studio that day added to the overall tone of the track?

Rivah: Totally. I actually referenced him to producers before he passed as well, his vibe has always been an influence. Particularly on this day and with this track “Untame” I was inspired to be experimental in a Prince way. High vocals, scratchy wild delivery, strong underlying pulse. I love how free he gets in his music.

Kendra: Debut single, and then you just played your first show ever at the start of October. How did you shake the nerves?

Rivah: I have performed live before with different projects, so I’m normally pretty cool with the stage but I was surprisingly nervous for these shows! I worked with an amazing band who had my back and took me on a mission to get Insomnia Cookies just before the show started! It saved me from getting too caught up in my thoughts. We had to run back and made it to side stage with about 30 seconds to spare. Did my first live insta capturing the cookie dash.

Kendra: Then when it came time to do the next two in mid-October, were you more mentally prepared when you stepped onto the stage?

Rivah: Every show is so different depending on what’s going on inside and what has happened that day. On the day of the second show I got up at the wrong subway stop and then walked for 1km in the wrong direction, then we had some soundcheck dramas. The show was great and the audience loved it but I was running on bravado for sure. By the third one, yeah, I was finally able to sink in, let loose and be there.


Kendra: Okay, so when will “Untame” be joining an album? We need to know.

Rivah: I’m pumped to get the other songs out but I think we gotta let this one marinate for a while.

Kendra: What’s up next? More shows around NYC?

Rivah: Lots of things in the pipeline and lots of decisions to make. I am one of the weirdest people I know in that I only have the next three weeks of my life planned out, even in terms of what county I’m staying in. Perhaps a sneaky NY and LA show in that time. Do you know SZA’s peeps? Maybe I should tour with her.

Kendra: Going back to women who perform more for themselves. If you had to make a mixtape that was all about that powerful, sultry vibe – what fives songs would have to be on it?

Angie Stone – “Baby
Selah Sue – “This World
Erykah Badu – “Cleva
Lianne La Havas – “Unstoppable
Mary J. Blige – “Just Fine


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