5 Minutes with Riovaz: The 18-year-old New Jersey talent disturbing the norm

Here, HUNGER catches up with the multi talented artist following the release of his latest EP, ‘Disturb The Norm.’

Like many artists circulating throughout the internet age, Riovaz isn’t one to box himself in. With an eclectic combination of sultry emo, electro-dance, hyperpop and rage rap, the 18-year-old rising star shows a musical understanding beyond his years. The New Jersey native started his journey as a rapper, taking inspiration from early trap innovators Famous Dex and Young Thug, before discovering his eye for a melody in early 2020. It was then that his career really started to take off, with his single ‘Prom Night,’ – a groovy electronic dance cut doused with moody emo sonics – which quickly became a bona fide hit on TikTok.

It’s been three years since Riovaz’s breakout hit was released, and he hasn’t looked back since. Following up with releases like ‘I Feel Fantastic’ and ‘you’re a parasite,’ he proved he could recapture that lightning in a bottle. And now, the crooner has blessed his hardcore following with his latest EP, Disturb The Norm. The eight-track effort sees Riovaz take centre stage, with the sole feature coming from fellow emerging viral sensation Skaiwater on ‘Hypnotized’ – an electronic banger embodying a rave filled with overindulgence and debauchery. Whether it’s nocturnal dance-floor filler like ‘U Neva’ or fast-paced bubblegum-flavoured instrumentals on ‘Can’t Keep Myself Intact,’ the artist takes command with his expressive, passionate vocals. Here, HUNGER catches up with Riovaz to talk us through his new EP, what separates him from the rest and his love for UK fashion.

Image Credit: Argenis Hernandez

Congratulations on your EP ‘Disturb The Norm,’ can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the project?

This EP was made as an introduction to my new fans just to let them know the sounds I’m capable of and the sounds the future holds for us. The name came to me when my team was talking about what the shows will be like – and it just clicked for me. 

Do you feel like you’re an artist disturbing the norm?

Yes, I do. There’s nobody like me, and the norm doesn’t know what to think of me as an artist. There’s a reason I say Riovaz if anyone asks what genre of music I’m making – It’s because it’s true to me.

Is there anything, in particular, you’d like people to take away from the project?

Yeah, I want them to finally understand me as an artist. I want them to see where I’ve been musically since the last EP, which was almost a year ago. And I want them to listen to it in full – front to back – so that they get the full experience. It’s meant to represent my arc as an artist, but there’s more meaning to it too. 

Did you feel any nerves in the run-up to the project’s release considering this is your first EP?

Not at all. I’m eager for you all to listen. When it comes to dropping music, it’s all about consistency for me. I love continually feeding my fans with music and keeping them updated with me on my journey. 

You explore a variety of genres on the project; what gives you the confidence to experiment with all of these sounds?

I don’t know, honestly; I just do it because I find it fun to outdo myself and surprise people. My playlist has a lot of the different types of music I listen to – you can see it’s all over the place. 

You’ve got Skaiwater on the project, who’s also having a real moment; how did you two link up, and what was the process behind that track?

I met Skaiwater when I was 14 on Instagram around 2018; we’ve been friends for a long time. I made the song around October and thought he’d sound good on it, and he did.

Image Credit: Kayla Menze

Was your creative process for creating this EP different to how you would go about producing singles?

No, nothing has changed, honestly, except my team, the producers, and travelling for some sessions. I used to have to make everything myself, but creatively it’s the same: I build projects like movies and don’t plan on changing that.

Who would be your dream collaboration?

Her’s. I know they’re not around anymore, but that’s why it’s my dream. 

What’s the biggest misconception you think people have of you?

That I’m a discord hyperpop artist or something along those lines. They don’t realise I’m pushing the freshest sound in my scene, but it’s fine. They will sooner or later; I think this EP is going to age well. 

I know you’ve spent some time in the UK recently; what do you like or dislike about it compared to the states?

I actually really enjoyed the UK. I love the fashion out there. I bought hella clothes. It reminds me of New York. 

You’ve also got a sold-out show in Camden in March. What can fans expect from a Riovaz show?

Fans can expect chaos and a lot of mosh pits. It’s going to be a fun time, and I’m honestly shocked in the best way that I sold out a show in London – that’s crazy to me. 

You’ve already had massive success at only 18. Have you found it difficult at all to adjust to the notoriety at all?

You could say so, yeah. I don’t really think it’s real sometimes. Most of the time I can’t really grasp my impact on the music industry and my fans – it’s still surreal. 

What has been the most surreal moment of your career so far?

Probably my LA show that I had a couple of weeks ago. Seeing people line up just to see me in the flesh made no sense to me but I loved it. 

What’s the goal for Riovaz?

To be remembered. 

WriterChris Saunders
Banner Image CreditArgenis Hernandez