Riz La Vie is an American/Lebanese singer-songwriter from New Jersey, now based out of New York City. Riz immediately found a foothold in the music scene. He has a soulful voice and impressively blends soul, pop, R&B, and hip-hop elements; similar to Russ or 6lack. Riz hit the scene in 2017 with the release of his EP, Found, he followed it up later that year with his second EP, Keep.; the latter of which has nearly 10 Million plays on Spotify. His fan base has organically risen to 700,000+ monthly Spotify listeners due in part to the success of his singles, “Saturn” & “Napkins”.
I got the chance to speak with Riz in early December, here’s what he had to say:
Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into making music?
I started doing music when I was 14, I grew up playing in band. Lil Wayne dropped a project called No Ceilings and it encouraged me to a make a project of my own. So it kind of kick-started this DIY-ness toward making music.
Building on that Lil Wayne comment, I’ve heard you say that bands like Kings of Leon and The Strokes were in rotation growing up…Your music is very different than those artists, did they play a factor into you becoming a musician and what is the connection?
The scope of what they [these bands/artists] talked about and the way they spoke about them. All those artists, were really vivid and I felt like I had a lot of very vivid things going on. It showed me that there is a vessel you can use in music and story-telling to put anything you want inside and allow it to carry it for you.
I’ve noticed that your photography plays a big role in your artistry (PEEP IG)..Do you see that going hand in hand with your music – or more two separate entities that work out together?
That’s cool. I love photography. I got the chance to work as a photographer for a few years and it kind of kept me alive. I always think about moments. The job I used to have, I was just capturing moments. It really made you look for a moment, and appreciate a moment, and see beauty in a lot of things. I feel like music has its way of doing that. You think about something so small and you’re like, “Yeah that’s actually very beautiful”. With a photograph you have a chance to pay attention to something in a way you might not see it normally.
In the same light of something small having a bigger impact, I see you’ve connected with the Loveland Foundation. A foundation that “committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls”. Can you tell me a little about that?
They’re so important for the conversation on mental health and protection of women in general, black and brown women. I think, if you’re going to have an org. that protects and encourages people that’s where you should start.
Little bit of a change of subject – you had success with your track “Napkins”. Talk to me about your inspiration for this one, and where it has since led you?
That song is inspired by a lot of small moments, actually. I think that it was a perfect storm situation – sometimes you make something that has it’s own force propelling it, so you don’t have to propel it at all. I’ve seen it a few times. I think it’s because it’s positivity, I think that’s what the world is here for. Here for needing, here for wanting, and this track reflects that.
How do you plan on building on this success – even with Covid in mind?
I’m going to continue making music that I really care about, and that’s really honest and speaking my truths so other people can feel their truths spoken. If you have the strength to speak your truth, the odds are that someone else will feel the same. So I’m going to continue doing that and caring about people at scale and impacting people. And just healing. Myself. Others. People around me. Music is a very healing thing. I think that’s one of the main responsibilities as a musician. As an artist you have a micro-chasm of everything around you, so it’s a good opportunity to help those around you. Become something, change something, share something, and help yourself do the same.
Google has you labeled as a “Hip-Hop” artist. How do you feel about that – do you see yourself in that way?
I don’t think that’s relevant to the world in 20 years. But, I do really, really appreciate it. I don’t think a lot of people know the where music started for me, or the path I took to get here. If you listen to good music, good hip-hop music, it’s just bars. I think if you listen to my music it’s just bars. In that regard it’s a very similar thing, if not the same thing.
It seems like music is moving away from the traditional release cycle in favor of more content and interaction with fans. Have you noticed this shift in your own way?
For sure. I think it’ll make a lot of people really great, and I think it’ll bring out our humanity from the people we look at. Like seeing everyone drinking cranberry juice and skateboarding..doing their own little cover..I don’t know, it’s cute, I fuck with it. We’re going through so much as a world right now to not appreciate your humanity , but also your sovereignty, and I think that comes hand in hand.
So, what story do you want to tell?
A few. A story of healing. A story of freedom. And a story of fulfillment. I think as an artist you work so long – in the studio, to learn the skills to make the music you hear in your head – to give you that freedom of expression. As an artist, as a person even, to be able to move freely through the world and not trip about anything you do, or pay for, or provide. When you hear someone say something you’ve felt, but didn’t know how to say it grants you this amount of freedom. Like, “I’m not the only one who sensed this”. And just, fulfillment. It’s such a fulfilling career. I constantly feel my cup being filled by the things I’m doing. I don’t know of many other things that involve your hands, heart, feet, and your mind so much. So the story I would tell is just the story of the body, how to use it & how to be.
LISTEN TO THE RIZ LA VIE CATALOG HERE:
Riz is an extremely talented young artist with a bright future ahead of him. His vocal range provides the ability to produce a variety of genres and styles. He has already been featured in a Warner Brothers film, “The Sun is Also a Star” as well as on the BMI website in the Indie artist spotlight. He has continued to build on his success with his 2020 EP, Feed. Riz is a well-produced, young talent with star potential. Riz’s passion can be seen in his video’s and heard in his lyrics. Riz has proven himself as an emerging player in the music industry and I expect some big things from his camp in the next few years.
Keep it trill, y’all.