There are two things that are hot in music right now: producers and Toronto. River Tiber happens to be a producer from Toronto, but I’m sure his impressive list of collaborators came for his infectious beats, not any fleeting hype. River Tiber has already worked with BADBADNOTGOOD, Pusha T, OVO producer Frank Dukes, to name a few. Even Drake’s “No Tellin’” contains a sample of River’s “No Talk”. River trained on the cello as a kid, but that doesn’t mean he is a classical composer. “When I make music, I use my instincts first,” says River. “I only dip into that academic knowledge if I need to.”
River talks about his work with practically synesthetic terms, almost like he can see and feel the musical notes. “I like to juxtapose fragile [analog] shit that has warm, nostalgic colours, with the tougher digital sounds of hard drum samples.” I’ve got a feeling his first LP Indigo will have some sounds that we’ll be hearing a lot of in the coming year. When I ask River why Toronto stands undefeated as the current bastion for new music, he lets me in on the secret: “There’s eight months out of the year where you just want to stay inside and make music all day.”
While that snowy northern city may be his hometown, River has travelled all over as a Red Bull Sound Select artist, which allowed him to produce Illusions Feat. Pusha T in collaboration with Polaris Music Prize winner KAYTRANADA & Doc McKinney. His track “West” with Daniel Caesar tells me that Toronto is not the only city that he thinks about. “LA is the strangest place I’ve been to,” says River. The music video for “West” is an ode to the city, with flashes of Tower Records, the Hollywood Sign and skating down Sunset Boulevard. “I love it though. So much of it seems to exist in our minds.” And this just makes me want to see Toronto the way he sees our city.