Meet Saul Rivers! Rivers’ newest single “Waves” was released on August 16th and it’s remix was put out on August 30th.
Check it out here-
Born and bred in New York City, Rivers began taking piano lessons at the age of three. By the time he was 16, he’d learned his way around the trumpet, the clarinet, the alto sax, the tenor sax and the guitar. A self-taught virtuoso, Rivers plays not just with skill, but with tremendous heart, drawing inspiration from many of his heroes, like John Mayer, Eric Clapton, B.B. King and James Taylor.
Recently, Rivers signed to Level, following the success of his 2017 studio EP Couldn’t Do it Alone, the title track of which garnered well over a million streams. In October, he released his highly acclaimed live EP, The Pineapple Sessions. Since then, Rivers has collaborated and performed two sold out shows with jazz musician, Gideon King, and his band City Blog. Rivers has also released videos of his performances of Eric Clapton’s “Old Love” and James Bay’s “Let it Go” – both filmed live in Laurel Canyon.
Now, with a voice that tugs at your soul, Rivers is looking towards the future with the release of “Waves.” Produced by Scott Jacoby (Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, John Legend), and featuring Al Carty on bass, Adam Jackson on drums, and Eli Menezes on guitar, “Waves” was recorded at Powerstation New England, an exact replica of Avatar Studios in New York.
“Waves is about getting out of your head and back into your body,” shares Rivers. “As a native New Yorker, I’ve been surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a city that truly never stops moving. My hope is that this song takes you to a place where you can groove, dance, and forget about everything in your head and just enjoy the music.”
Connect With Saul Rivers Online Here:
Learn more about Saul Rivers in the following All Access interview:
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you have scheduled the rest of today and this week?
I’d say that I don’t really feel like I have a “typical” day. My day-to-day fluctuates so much based on what’s needed at the moment – being an independent artist has taught me that I need to be versatile and able to do many different tasks. Aside from the obvious writing and recording music, there’s a lot that goes into being an indie artist such as finding producers, videographers and other artists to collaborate with, editing and managing my website and social media accounts, booking shows, promoting events and releases, and just doing whatever I can to build my brand and get my music heard by as many people as possible.
Yesterday I met with producer Zach Ezzy who remixed my song “Waves” and we spoke about working on an EP together this fall and winter that we plan to release sometime in the spring of 2020. Today I’m finalizing the lease on a new apartment I’m moving into at the end of the month, and then working to redesign my website to help promote my upcoming release “Change” which will be available on October 25th. Tomorrow I’ll be heading out to long island to teach tennis for the weekend – that’s my other job that helps support my music career and funding the projects I want to take part in. So yea, as you can see, the day-to-day varies quite a bit.
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already excited about for 2020?
2019 has been an incredible year of development. I got connected with producer Scott Jacoby at the end of 2018 and we began recording a 3 song project in February of 2019, the first song being “Waves”. Working with Scott took the production level of my music to an entirely new level and I can’t wait to release the rest of the music that we did together. The second song “Change” will be available October 25th followed by the third song “Here” which will be available in January 2020.
I actually spent some time at the end of 2018 writing out my goals for 2019, and the top goal was to find the right producer to create my next round of songs, and Scott fulfilled that goal and took it one step further by introducing me to producer Zach Ezzy – so now I have found 2 amazing producers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with and know that I can turn to when I have new music ready to record.
I’m really eager to set up some tour dates for 2020 where I can put together a band to do a mini east coast tour, and ideally start to reach some new markets across the country. I’m also really looking forward to working on an EP with Zach Ezzy where we are going to co-create a lot of new songs together. I think 2020 is going to be a year with a lot of writing and recording to help set up some bigger future tours.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be in this industry? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music was always in my life. My parents had me learning piano at age 3, and by the time I finished high school I had learned to play the trumpet, clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, and finally the guitar. I learned a lot of classical music on piano as a young child and slowly started getting more into jazz and popular music as I got older. I would say that it was pop music that saved me from quitting music altogether. I had gotten to a point in high school where music lost some of the joy it had originally brought, but pop music was what drew me back in and ultimately allowed me to use my music skills to forge my own path and create my own songs. Being in music has always been difficult in knowing that it’s hard to make a full time living from it, but nonetheless my parents were supportive of my musical dreams while also making sure that I didn’t give up my day job of teaching tennis, and getting a college education (I graduated with a degree in Music and Economics from Union College). I think most parents worry about their child’s financial stability, so I knew that as long as I could maintain another job that allowed me to make my music, it would give me some time to build my career and hopefully allow the music to transition to my main gig. It’s probably one of the most difficult industries you can be a part of, but the culture around it is incredible and I’ve been so grateful to have had so many positive experiences making music.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
There have been many moments in my life where I’ve asked myself the question of “what’s the backup plan?” and somehow I’ve been able to push off the reality of that question for a while. Having a career teaching tennis around the world has allowed me the freedom to pursue my music career independently, but I have had thoughts all the time about finding a job in the music industry if I ever felt like I needed to. I’m not sure I would be as fulfilled as if I am writing, recording, and performing music, but I know that as long as I’m involved in the music world, a big part of me will be content.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
I’d say the biggest surprise for me has been that I feel like I’ve continued to grow and evolve in a way that I couldn’t have expected or imagined. Being a recording artist involves going through the same process over and over and over again, but yet each time it’s completely different and you learn new things that make the process exciting and new each time you come back to it. I love that each time I come back to square one to create something new, it’s completely different than the last time I did it. The music could even be the same, but the experience always changes based on who you work with and what you’ve learned from the last time you went through the process.
I’m continuing to refine my sound and explore new ideas, and allowing myself to be creative in this way has brought a level of joy to my life that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Every time I work on a new project, I feel like I get to work with better and better people, and I continually find myself thinking, “wow, I just raised the bar for myself again, and how much can I keep raising it?”.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Waves.” Where did the inspiration for this track come from? How does it compare to anything else you that have you previously released?
Waves was written about 4 years ago and it’s been amazing to see the song evolve from then until now. I remember that I wanted to write a song that had a hypnotic groove where you could just get lost in the music. I sat down to write the song with that in mind, and the first thing I thought of was to make the first lyric to the song literally about sitting down to write what’s on my mind but wanting to come from a place that wasn’t so cerebral and was more about just feeling the music and getting out of my own head.
“I sit down, and try to write my mind
But this time I’m throwing it away
I just wanna feel for the first time
Without my mind getting in the way”
The start of the song for me was telling the story of how I just wanted to sit down and write what was on my mind, but I realized that the song was about feeling the music and not about all the mental chatter, so I decided to embrace the idea of, “fuck what you think, just let yourself feel” and that became my anchor for writing the tune.
I think this song is very relevant today because I think we all have moments where we overthink and can’t get out of our own heads – I wanted this song to serve as a reminder to people that they can let go, just feel the music, and have a space where thoughts don’t take the lead.
Do you have plans to release more songs and/or a full collection of new music?
I do, having just released “Waves” and “Waves (Zach Ezzy Remix)”, I’m excited to draw some new people in to my new sound and style, and I hope that my upcoming releases will do the same. “Change” will be available everywhere October 25th, and I have one more single “Here” which I will be releasing in January of 2020. After that, I’m hoping to have a 3-6 song EP with Zach Ezzy, and I’m also hopeful that I’ll write a lot of new material in the coming months that I’ll record when ready. I think I’ve somewhat given up on the idea of a full album at this moment in time only because it seems that most people consume music in a much more singular manner than before. One of the ideas behind the EP I’m doing with Zach Ezzy is to create a thread to tie all the songs together a bit more than have them all be individual singles that are totally different. However, I think future projects that have a common thread will likely stay in that 3-6 song range. Having a 10-15 song album would be amazing, but I just feel like it isn’t as relevant and necessary now to create such large works unless there really is a strong tie between the entire group of songs.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have any fall tour dates scheduled yet?
I have a single release show for “Change” on November 1st at Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 3) at 830pm. I wanted to do a small intimate show for my release of “Change”. This song is pretty special to me and as I’m about to turn 30 on October 27th, I thought it felt appropriate to release the song right as I’m going through a big change in my own life. I want to share an evening with a small group and dive a little deeper in to some of my songs and songwriting process, so setting up a show at Rockwood’s Stage 3 was perfect. There will only be 55 seats available for the show, so make sure to get your tickets soon!
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
I know I have grown so much – I often wonder how anyone ever gave me a chance or supported me when I was first starting because I think I’ve come such a long way from where I began. I look back and think about how much more confident I am in what I’m doing now. Obviously that’s part of the process and takes time to develop, but it’s also sign for new artists just starting out that there truly is an endless amount of growth that can take place over time if you are committed to the process. I know that everything from my voice to my songwriting and performance skills have completely changed from when I first started out, and I’m excited to see them continue to evolve and grow as my career moves forward.
How do you feel about social media? What has social media done for your career so far?
Social media is one the main areas that I actually feel less comfortable with. I know I have enough basic skills to do what I need, but I find that it often takes me out of the moment and changes the way I experience certain things. I try to be present as much as I can, which is why I’ve found it more difficult to partake in social media as much as other artists do, but I’m working on it. I took some time recently to learn from other social media experts and I’m actively working to get better at being more consistent on socials, but it’s definitely not in my nature to want to use it as much as I need to. I will say that I’ve learned how to schedule posts so that I can spend more time mapping out a social timeline and setting it in motion without having to be active every single day, but overall I know it’s one area that I have a lot of work to improve on. Hopefully I become more comfortable with it over time, and I hope that as I start connecting with more and more like-minded individuals on socials, it will help make that transition easier.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I would have to say that John Mayer is and will always be one of my bigger inspirations. Though I don’t always love every single thing he puts out, I do really value his craft and have appreciated feeling like a part of his journey ever since I first started listening to him. I would definitely love to work with him if given the chance, just to get an inside look at how he writes, records, and produces music would be an invaluable experience to have. I sent him Waves recently on instagram, let’s see if he takes a listen!
More recently I would say I’ve been listening to a lot of Daniel Caesar, Maggie Rogers, Kevin Garrett, and Tom Misch. They’re all newer artists to me, but all their music has really inspired me a lot, and watching their careers take off is equally exciting to feel like a part of. Working with any one of them would be an incredible opportunity – they’re all amazing songwriters and I love that they all share a passion for collaborating with other artists.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
One music video that I’ve always really admired is Mayer’s “Queen of California” video – the entire thing was shot in one take, and they rented out an enormous studio where they used to build space shuttles so that they could set up one long strip of various sets to seamlessly flow between. The idea of having several sets lined up that you can flow in and out of in one continuous shot is something that I can imagine would take a ton of time and resources, but would be very fulfilling to accomplish well. Check out the video if you haven’t seen it.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
I’d love to hear my music played on SiriusXM’s AltNation station. They do a segment called Advanced Placement where they feature newer artists, and I’d love the opportunity to get heard on there. I know I’ve heard so many new artists through that program and I really like their selection of features. Aside from that, being on the radio in general would be pretty cool, but even getting a song on in a movie soundtrack or on a tv show would be a great way to give a different context to the song and potentially attract some new listeners.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Hope and the feeling of connectedness.
I think a lot of my music tells a story, and I try tell stories that have contrasting elements or a certain duality to them to show that things aren’t always just one thing. In showing that through the story, I feel like there are usually elements of hope that stand out as a common theme – despite hardships that exist in various forms, there is always hope for something better in the future.
I hope that people can find something in my music to relate to that shows them that they’re not alone in whatever it is they’re feeling. With a song like Waves, I often think about all the people out there like myself who can be over-thinkers or who can get caught up in their head at times. I wanted to write something that those people could relate to and hopefully help them to connect with the idea of letting go more. For a song like “Change” I wanted to write about the difficulties of making tough changes in one’s life. It’s a very real and honest song, and I hope that people can connect with that part of themselves because it’s something we all face at various points in our lives.
There are so many artists, albums, and songs that have inspired me over the years, each in their own way. If me or my music can inspire something positive and creative in someone else, that’s probably the greatest outcome a songwriter can ask for.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and get to know me. Pursuing music is a difficult career choice, but it’s extremely rewarding and I’m very grateful to feel like I can continue growing as an artist and have people like you who will be there share those new experiences with. I look forward to sharing my new music with you and hope to see you at a future show!