The recurring theme within RIVRS’s growing body of songs is that love moves in mysterious ways. The London-based electronic band delve deep into the dark heart of romantic relationships, and set their tales of love and loss to nocturnally atmospheric productions that simultaneously evoke the spirit of Julio Bashmore, Everything But The Girl and Depeche Mode.
Their new single ‘Friend/Lover’ gets right to the heart of the matter with its opening line: “Don’t want be your friend / I want to be your lover.”
“It’s the kind of song that you could send to someone and say, this is how I’m feeling but I can’t find the exact words to tell you,” says vocalist, Charlotte. “It’s a message that’s so clear that people can relate to it.”
Inspiration also moves in mysterious ways. Charlotte’s RIVRS cohort Fin grew up playing guitar in bands due to his love of The White Stripes and The Who. Slowly, however, he grew bored of the band format and refocusing his energies on running a surprisingly successful club night. Charlotte and Fin both DJ’d at different slots in the club night, which necessitated an on-going exploration of the best underground electronic music. In-between, aspiring bands would either also show tremendous promise (an early incarnation of Mt. Wolf, for example) or deliver a textbook study in what not to do.
For Charlotte, the turning point was seeing a performance by Grimes on Jools Holland. “It made music seem so accessible and raw,” she enthuses. “It made music feel like something I could do.” Charlotte picked up a Korg keyboard and called on Fin’s recording skills to help bring her ideas to fruition. Things evolved organically from there, and the initial result of their work under the RIVRS name was ‘Friend/Lover’.
Their ideas were developed further with the guidance of Years & Years / Hot Chip collaborator Mark Ralph, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of sub-genres and huge collection of synths added extra dimensions to their productions.
The first RIVRS track to gain wider traction was ‘Last Love’ – a song about obsessively trying to recover from the dissolution of a first love. Launched on the New Faces II compilation from influential French label Kitsuné Records, it prompted a chain of events that evolved after the Kitsuné showcase gig: live dates included a sold-out show at London’s Barfly, a tour as guest to Marina & The Diamonds, and festival action at the British Summer Time festival headlined by Taylor Swift.
RIVRS’ live experience captures a different sound to their recordings, with the addition of a live drummer adding a fresh burst of energy. Those shows sparked a flurry of label interest, resulting in the band signing to Atlantic Records shortly after releasing a remix of Charli XCX’s ‘Famous’. Their connection continues with the release of ‘Friend / Lover’ which is the first release on Charli XCX’s new Vroom Vroom label imprint.
“We really admire her as she knows what she’s wants,” states Charlotte. “She’s not afraid to be herself, and to make her own decisions.”
RIVRS filled the gap between ‘Last Love’ and ‘Friend/Lover’ by uploading their interpretation of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’. Reimagined with moody synths and beats and respite with the emotional turmoil of the original’s lyrics, their take on the track feels like a seamless fit alongside the nature of their own material.
A couple themselves, RIVRS have an overriding concept planned for their debut album. “We want the album to start with the beginning of a relationship and chart it to the end of that relationship,” explains Fin.
“It’s a subject that I’m naturally drawn to,” concurs Charlotte. “As a teenager, I loved The Cure and a lot of their tracks were about love and relationships and dark romance.”
As the next stage in their career takes shape, prepare for a whole new audience to become enamoured with RIVRS.