In this interview spotlight, we have a virtual pow wow with Riley Godleski to discuss music, motivations, the new project and more.
Full Q&A, links, and streams can be found below.
Let’s dive a little deeper into You, the artist and your music. What attracted you to this genre(s) or style(s)?
Pop/rock has always just followed me around my whole life since I was 4 years old and my mother pulled out a Marvin Gaye record. As a kid I was checking out tons of Moody Blues, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, The Beatles, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Bonnie Raitt, The Grass Roots, Television, Nick Drake, Jonathan Edwards and Leon Russell. That progressed into digging some of the 90’s and early 2000’s stuff that was happening at the time: Blur, Oasis, Foo Fighters, Beck, Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple, Fishbone, 311, Pixies, Nirvana, Collective Soul, Deftones, System of a Down, Mars Volta, Radiohead, Portishead and Deerhoof. Toward the end of high school and early college at UARTS I was into exploring around in the Jazz/fusion arenas. I got really heavy into Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea and Return to Forever, Weather Report, Tony Williams’ Lifetime, Miles Davis as well as Sun Ra (especially early work of his). This sent me off in a territorial spectrum of music I had never allowed myself to exist in and now I couldn’t help but bring its impressions back to my pop music cave with me when, naturally, I returned. After that, I allowed myself to explore the more adventurous pop artists: Killing Joke, XTC, St. Vincent and Temples.
What led you into this journey with music? And further, what drives you to push it out to the public?
I sat down to brunch with my brother and Phillip Price (of Winterpills and Look Park) one day and he suggested that I write a Pop/Rock record. I said: “Alright I will.”. So I produced my first record Tumble Child.
Who or what influences your creativity? Have your tastes in music changed over time?
My tastes in music fluctuate by day, by hour, by minute. That’s not to say I don’t sincerely enjoy basking in the warm glow of a ballad all night long or rocking myself to the bone until I’m physically incapable. But contrast and musicality are forces of nature, so you could say that’s what truly inspires me to stay writing and performing . Conversation is musical to me. Touch is musical, laughter and dance is musical. Even the heart has a rhythm – light is comprised of fast beats. Music is essential to me and I realize that so much more of our true experience here as humans can be communicated through it than through any other method of communication. And it brings all types of different people together that would otherwise never meet. What’s more beautiful than that?
Were you trying to accomplish anything specific on this new project? Creatively or otherwise?
I wanted to present the music as if it were plucked straight from the dream that brought it to me. I wanted to preserve its contours and lead lines and form the arrangements around its fundamental nature. Maintaining a rock instrumentation and ensuring I can still play the material live with a band, I set out to respect the music as it flowed out – enough to give it a comprehensive Pop/Rock framework that people can relate to. It may even find a feeling you may have had in yourself that couldn’t be activated without these particular words in a song. You may find a friend in a total stranger – the true power of pop music!
What was the last song you listened to?
Wes Montgomery – “The Road Song”
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?
While I will always love the experience of vinyl more than any other medium and prefer to demo on cassette tapes, I am hopeful that a new medium will arrive with fulfillment and interaction we all crave combined with sound that feels authentic. It is clearly a necessity and she just happens to be the mother of invention!
How about this one…. Do you prefer Spotify? Apple Music? Bandcamp? Or something else? Why?
It seems when anything gets big enough, especially when its primary interests are not arts-related, it makes decisions very selfishly until a better alternative comes along and provides competition. Contracts can have sticky consequences – I’ve seen people watch their music slip through the cracks so many times and its easier than ever for that to happen. While Bandcamp has a great aesthetic and is user-friendly, I ask many people who say they aren’t quite sure what it is. Perhaps the name scares non-musicians off? Hmm. Spotify works great as an online radio service. I aim to only release singles on Spotify and Apple Music in order to promote the album (sold elsewhere online and at shows).
Other than the digital era overwhelming us with access to an abundance of music, what is the biggest challenge you face when trying to connect with or find new fans?
Exposure is not the issue that has me: Integrity is. I have watched the care drain out of the faces and seen the substance of artists drop. I think much of the cause is that there is not much in the media to inspire creative growth or even to find out more about particular areas of interest. As people have become more distracted by social categorization and mindless hype, they have lost touch with their own senses of beauty and natural resonance with their world. It’s time to awaken and it must begin with artists – musical and otherwise. We must reconnect. It’s easy.
Where is the best place to connect with you online? Discover more music?
You can find bio, music, video, pics and show schedule on my website: Rileygodleski.com
And my album Tumble Child (2016) is available on Bandcamp: http://rileygodleski.bandcamp.com/album/tumble-child
Anything else you’d like to add before signing off?
Thank you very much for supporting the music that is passionate and raising the bar. It’s been a pleasure to interview with you.