"I just try to be honest in my writing and if anyone else can relate, that’s like the best thing." River Nelson on his song-writing approach.

Tuesday 21st May 2019 | Grace

After previosuly collaborating with some of the world's finest producers and beat-makers, River Nelson is now on his 4th album, Power, Resilience and Joy, a spectular hip-hop album that encourages the positive whilst  still acknowledging  the negative in life. We spoke to River about the power of lyrics, living in New York and his new single and album. Here's what he had to say: 

Tell us about yourself and your music?

I started out in the New York City underground, performing and working with various artists. Then in 2010, when I released by album “The Rise & Fall of River Nelson,” my music started getting a good bit of traction in different countries. I’ve released three more albums since then, and ‘Power Resilience & Joy’ is my fourth LP.

Musically, I like to write songs that take on life’s challenges head-on but make the listener feel good at the end of it, as well as hopeful. Plus, my style leans more towards the lyrically driven kind of hip-hop, and I think the songs have relatable themes.

How did you get into making music?

From being a fan and just falling in love with all of the greats, whether hip-hop, rock or whatever. At first, I simply enjoyed the different albums but after a while I began to study them. After that, I was so inspired by the artists I was listening to, I wanted to take a crack at making music myself.

You are from New York; how does that inspire you creatively?

The city has its own unique energy that’s part beauty, part chaos and it’s a wonderful thing to draw from and be inspired by. The diversity, the various cultures, the international feel New York has, it’s great for song writing.

What are the best and worst things about the city?

The worst I would have to say are the housing costs. The best thing is that unique energy I spoke of.  

Your music is predominantly a classic hip-hop style, what is it about that genre that has made you stick with that sound?

My favourite style of hip-hop has always been the lyrically driven kind, so that just naturally spills into my song writing approach. But you’ll notice on the album there are flows and sounds that stray from that classic approach too, so it’s a mixture.

Tell us about your new track ‘Today’?

Today is about a person who’s been striving for a particular goal for a long time. Then one day that person wakes up in the morning and feels more hopeful than usual that something wonderful is going to happen to them that day. But that sense of hope is also combined with anxiousness, because that person has been working and waiting a long time for their dream to come true.

Why is it important to you to encourage people to not give up on their dreams?

It’s just a topic of conversation that I’m interested in. Like, how do we keep pursuing our passion when life gets in the way? How faithful are we to those promises we made to ourselves about working towards a particular goal? I love examining that kind of stuff.

How important is music in getting a message across?

I think sometimes it’s important to get a message across in music and sometimes it’s not. It depends on a lot of factors and what the artist is going for. For me, I can’t say I intentionally try to pass on a message. I just try to be honest in my writing and if anyone else can relate, that’s like the best thing.

What points in your life have been most inspirational to you?

There’s been a lot of times. When I became a young adult and realized everything my parents sacrificed for my siblings and I to have a good life. When I took my songs from my bedroom to the stage and got a great reception. The first time I heard a Tribe Called Quest. the first time I heard Radiohead’s ‘O.K, Computer.’ The first time I fell in love.

You are also about to release your new album ‘Power, Resilience and Joy’, what is the best track on it and why?

It’s hard to say which track is best because they all follow a particular theme and feed off each other. And my favourite track changes from week to week too. Last week, it was the song “Law of Averages”. But “Hindsight” was my favourite the week before that, because it’s one of the most personal tracks I’ve written. And right now, it’s “Japanese Proverb,” because it hopeful and it makes me feel good when I play it.

Where does your music fit with everything that is going on in the world?

Hopefully, it’s music that helps you deal better with the tough times and makes the good times even better.

What is your life motto?

There are only two kinds of people in the world: People who care about doing what’s right and good, and people who don’t care about that kind of stuff at all.

Find out more about River Nelson on his Instagram and Twitter.