The Five Question Challenge with RIVVRS

Rivvrs music

(Photo property of David Cano; courtesy of LaFamos)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

It is a pleasure to welcome singer-songwriter Brandon Zahursky to Jake’s Take.

Known to his fans as RIVVRS, this Los Angeles-based musician began his musical journey while working in Napa Valley’s wine industry. His debut single, “I Will Follow You,” caught the attention of the producers of NBC’s About a Boy.  The song was written into an episode of the show, which helped him kickstart his career as a full-time singer-songwriter.

Three years later, RIVVRS’ music has been featured in numerous publications such as The Huffington Post, Music Connection, and Our Culture Mag. Also, another one of RIVVRS’ songs, “Hold On,” was featured on the pilot episode of the hit ABC comedy series: Kevin Probably Saves the World.   Also, his song: “Bring Out the Bad” premiered in Konami video game: Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PES 2018).

In this edition of “The Five Question Challenge,” RIVVRS shared the story behind his latest single, “Don’t Give Up on Me” and previewed his upcoming 2018 studio album: Cosmic Dream.

Jacob Elyachar: When did you first get interested in music? How did that passion evolve into the desire to pursue a career in the recording industry? 

RIVVRS: Music always had a commanding presence in our household when I was growing up. My dad was always blasting bands like AC/DC and usually woke us up that way if we slept in too long. It wasn’t too long before I bought an electric guitar and wanted to be in a rock band, and that eventually led to spending hours alone in my room, practicing to no end. Somewhere around high school, I fell in love with the storytelling and lyrics within songs and started listening to artists like Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. I got my first acoustic guitar when I was 15, and it opened up my whole world to songwriting. I mostly covered other songs, but eventually started to write my own and played them at open mics. I didn’t ever think it was a realistic career choice, but once I started taking college classes, I realized I didn’t want to be in school. I think from that moment on; I decided I wasn’t going to do anything else. I made my first album once I dropped out, and I haven’t stopped making music since.

JE: Could you please describe your songwriting process to my readers? 

R: I always focus on the theme and the lyrics first; what exactly I want the song to be about. Usually, I’ll try to come up with a line or two that I’m writing towards, so a story develops. When I read back the lyrics to a full song, I like it to make sense as a story. Coming up with melodies usually happens naturally as I’m sitting with a piano or guitar. Often, I write lyric and melody ideas separately and then piece together my favorite ideas over time. Other times I’ll sit in a room and construct a song top to bottom in a few hours. It all depends on the song and my mood. If you go through my phone, I have endless notepads of lyrics and about 600 voice memos of ideas I’ll record in the car or at home. I go through them a lot, and that’s usually how a song idea is sparked.

JE: What are some of the challenges that you faced breaking into the recording industry? How did you overcome them?

R: I think the biggest issue being in this industry is the constant search for more. You get on a tour; then you want a bigger tour. You get a music placement; then you want an even more prominent music placement. It doesn’t end. The most important thing I’ve learned is to be satisfied with each step along the way, and to not focus so far on what you haven’t accomplished, and to never compare yourself to the success of someone else who is doing the same thing. There’s always someone who is going to be more successful than you. I’ve learned to enjoy the ride and be grateful for everything I’ve been able to do. Sometimes it’s hard to do that in an industry that bases success solely on statistics and numbers. You can really hold yourself back if you’re not satisfied along the way.

JE: Let’s talk about your latest single, “Don’t Give Up on Me.” What is the story behind the song? 

R: I moved to Los Angeles from the Bay Area a little over two years ago, and it was a rough transition for me. I was continuously running around when I lived in Napa. I was working a full-time job in the wine industry, seeing friends every day after work, and making music in the evenings until I went to sleep. Once I decided to move to LA, everything kind of went still. I had a lot of time to myself and not a lot of friends to spend time with. It really bummed me out, and I started to panic. I felt like I was abandoning my old life and it harbored a lot of fear. I fell into a really dark depression and didn’t feel like I was the best version of myself. Eventually, I climbed out of my hole and started to get into a more positive mindset. I wrote “Don’t Give Up On Me” with a bit of shame for having felt the way I did for so long. I looked back at that time and shook my head at myself. The song describes how I was feeling at that time, but also how I feel now, which is much more hopeful.

JE: Next year, you will release your latest full-length studio album: Cosmic Dream. What can your fans expect from this album? 

R: The record was written and recorded over the course of about two years, so it’s a labor of love. Some of the songs were finished at the time I released my first album “Unfamiliar Skin” in 2016, but they didn’t seem to fit, so I kept them off it. As I continued writing and recording, I really wanted to create a concept record, so that’s what I did. I feel like the songs belong together, so there’s a lot of continuity if you listen to it from top to bottom. I also focused on my influences more for this record, which is blues and soul, so I think that’s more present when you listen. I was lucky enough to record with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Joshua James, so this body of work is really special to me for that reason.

For more information about RIVVRS, visit his website.  

To follow RIVVRS’ adventures on social media, visit his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar