D//E Interviews: Riki

From her deathrock beginnings to a pair of lush synthpop albums on the trusty underground imprint, Dais Records, LA-based artist has been developing a musical vision which goes beyond genre boundaries, and bases its impact purely on intuition and care for fascinating sounds and strong aesthetics. The artist's second full length, Gold, has been leaving its mark since its November 2021 release, and Riki's steady and effective path as a multilayered creator seems to be only at its very beginning.

Riki talks about creativity in music and arts, and more in an interview with D//E.

How do Riki and Gold compare to each other? Are there any similarities or major differences between the two albums?

They both have a general romantic wistfulness and the will to let it out- both are honest expressions. The major difference between the two are some stylistic changes and the confidence / ability to execute has grown between Riki to Gold

Which are some of the new album's main themes?

Transformation, love, fantasy, sensuality, wonder, and a feminine experience are all major themes.

Are there any major influences on the new album you’d like to mention?

The year we all spent inside also had a huge impact on this record. My life shifted very much from nightlife and lots of outwards expression to much quieter and solitary moments. I was listening to a lot of Pink Floyd, new-age, and more mid-tempo music in general when I was conceiving this record. Josh Eustis had a great influence, he is a wonderful collaborator and super capable producer. 

How would you describe the creative process regarding the songwriting and recording?

I usually start with a melody that pops in my head and gets stuck and then I move on to building it out into a song with some basic midi instruments. Oftentimes I’ll attach a little verbal expression to the melody as I repeat it enough times. If the expression sticks, that's the basis of the lyrical concept. I flesh out my demos before recording by adding in just about everything that comes to mind and then doing some big strip-downs.

What does the contribution of producer Joshua Eustis bring to the sound of Riki?

Josh is an out of the box thinker and careful listener- and he was pretty tireless in achieving the sound. There’s a lot of knowledge and technical skill there, so it’s a great team. We were working with a pretty clear vision and not much limitation- creatively/technically speaking. I’d say he brings out an organic dynamism to the music.

How has it been crossing from the deathrock and anarcho punk of Crimson Scarlet to the more glam synthpop sound of the new project?  

It’s been a pretty natural series of transitions as I’ve grown in my personal life. In some ways I’ve abandoned purist tendencies and become more open to expressing the multiple influences I’ve always had in music and aesthetics. 

Does your work as a visual artist parallel in any way to the music?

Absolutely, it is the same vision- just expressed in a different medium.

What is the approach on the visual front when it comes to the music videos which accompany the songs?

I was very hands on in the first two videos I did- Napoleon and Earth Song, I took more of a backseat with the last two- Marigold and Florence & Selena– while working with a bigger crew on both of those. I’ll be working on some more video to accompany the record and live show and push a bit further what I envision as the visuals for this album. 

You have a string of live dates coming. Which are the expectations touring in/after the times of COVID?

Well, I just made the call to postpone a little string of dates, unfortunately. It’s impossible to predict the future here, so I’m just hoping for the best. If there continues to be a need to postpone then I’ll look forward to the time when we can all party together soon.

What does the immediate future hold for Riki?

I’ve got a US tour coming up this spring with Choir Boy. Right now I’m digging in on a few new songs, buffing up the live show, and there are a few shoots that will be coming out soon which I’m excited to see! Also working on some digital art - with more to come on all of that.

Photo by Dustin Edward Arnold

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