River Nelson Interview

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you have released?
My name is River Nelson and I’m a US Hip Hop artist and I’ve been making music for several years now.  My introduction into the game came via the famed New York group the Boogiemonsters, as I was on their album “Riders of the Storm: The Underwater Album”.  Late last year my debut album came out, called the “Rise & Fall of River Nelson”, produced by Lewis Parker, which really launched my career on a global level.

A lot of independent artist’s now run their own labels. Do you think this is the way forward? Or do you hope one day to get signed to a major or another label?
I think ownership should be one of the main goals in one’s music career.  In my opinion, the last thing you want to do is just be signed without owning anything at all.  An artist should control their brand, their masters, publishing, etc.  Also, the days of being signed to a major simply because you have good music is a thing of the past.  Most labels would rather do a partnering with someone who‘s already made an impact in the game.  If you have made a dent in the industry without any major label help, that can only provide you with leverage if you do decide to go with a major.

Formats of music are changing all the time, but we asked you ‘CD or MP3’ which would you say is better and why? 
I wouldn’t say either one is better than the other.  I think both are necessary mediums in order to get your music heard.  If you only release your music through one avenue, then you’re excluding those who may not access music through that other avenue.

Are you releasing your music on CD or MP3 and how are you finding the different formats?
I release my music on both CD and MP3.  I find that some prefer to get their music instantly, and things like packaging and art work are secondary to them.  Others really like to read the inside jacket, and have a physical product they can keep hold of.  Both types of listeners are really the same; it’s just their listening approach that’s different.

Apart from the genre of music that you make what else do you listen to?
I Love Rock Music. I tend to gravitate more to the singer song writer stuff.  I also love Jazz, Classic R&B, Pop, and Classic Rock.  I really do believe that good lyrics and musicality can be found in any genre of music, and I would be missing out if I ever closed myself off to any form of art or expression.

Is there any music that you hate and just can’t listen too?
No. If something doesn’t grab me.  It could just not be my particular taste, or not suit my specific pallet, but that wouldn’t make me hate it, or not give it another chance.

So let’s talk about how people can support you. Do you have music out there people can buy?
Yes.  But first, Downtown Soul has released my new single “Old Times & Good Wishes” as a free download that you can get here: http://downtownsoul.bandcamp.com/track/old-times-good-wishes
But I also have plenty of music on the internet for sale too.  You can get the “The Rise & Fall of River Nelson” online by searching Google, as well as a new EP I just released called “While We’re Young”. 

Do you have any merchandise for sale yet?
We’re actually in the process of getting together some River Nelson merchandise, and we’re now starting with shirts that will soon be for sale.

If there was a position of power that was ‘world leader’ and you was chose as the person to fill that position, what laws or things would you change and why?
I would first work on the laws and assistant programs for the poor and disenfranchised.  My focus would be on empowering them in order to close the ever widening financial, educational, and political gaps we have in the world.

People are saying that live shows are the way forward for acts to earn money, but then we hear it’s hard to get bookings? What’s your take on this?
Your money really has to come from many different avenues.  Show money is crucial to any artist’s career, but it should only be one aspect of your hustle.  In any financial chase, you want to diversify and give yourselves multiple ways to earn money. But the live show and its earnings are something that has to be consistent too, because you always want to connect with the people and present your art.

Who is or was the best musician in the world and why?
This can obviously be debated, but I would have to say Bob Marley.  To me he was the greatest song writer of all time.  Bob had the unique ability to convey deep and timeless messages, in lyrics that a baby could understand.  His music was so relatable and powerful that he was called in to heal conflicts in countries around the world. He was called on to write a National Anthem for a country.  That’s crazy if you think about it.  In my opinion it’s a perfect example of how music can cause direct change in the world.

So what does the future hold for you?
I’m playing the Strawberry Fields Festival with the singer Kelis in the UK next month, and I’m currently recording a new album with the legendary Lewis Parker, that will be released on Downtown Soul/The World of Dusty Vinyl later this year. 

Give us all your relevant internet links!
http://www.facebook.com/people/River-Nelson/1478620088
http://twitter.com/#!/rivnel  (@rivnel)

Free download to song “Old Times & Good Wishes”:
http://downtownsoul.bandcamp.com/track/old-times-good-wishes

Performing at Strawberry Fields Festival: http://www.strawberryfieldsfestival.co.uk/index.htm

Interview by David Wellar