From Saskatoon to the world, Riversleem challenges the barriers of screamo and post-hardcore. Today, we’re stoked to give you our insightful interview with the band, centering around their recent EP “A Second Release by Riversleem”, out now on Zegema Beach Records.
The tape, released under Zegema Beach Records, is an evocative ten-minute journey through a blend of punk, hardcore, grind, and screamo. Only 100 copies of this fiery red 7” are in circulation, making it a collector’s delight.
Similarily to many of the underrated bands covered in our pages, Riversleem is not a band confined to the box of a single genre.
Their roots are embedded in screamo and post-hardcore, yet they incorporate influences from metallic hardcore, molding a unique soundscape. As the band itself mentioned in a recent interview, their melodies are a “positive and cathartic way to express themselves.”
Their journey began in 2019, and despite pandemic-induced challenges, they’ve managed to craft and deliver music that speaks to both their personal experiences and broader societal issues.
Each track on the new EP is an exploration of emotions, challenges, and the band’s ever-evolving sonic identity.
“Eating Teeth,” for instance, is a bold proclamation of the band’s journey and camaraderie. On the other hand, “Exit Essential Dread” delves deep into personal reflection, and “Hammer” stands as a fierce critique of societal injustices. The EP concludes with “Antispore,” a lengthy track that encapsulates the band’s contemplation of art’s complexities.
The cover art, a vivid red-hued bouquet, adds a layer of intrigue. Although the flowers don’t hold a symbolic meaning, the visual juxtaposition of serenity and intensity complements the EP’s essence.
Riversleem’s commitment to the community is evident. They’ve pledged to donate all initial digital proceeds from the EP to Chokecherry Studios, a Saskatoon-based organization dedicated to fostering young, marginalized creatives.
Read our full interview below.
Thanks so much for taking some time with us! Talk to us about your journey into screamo and post-hardcore. How did Riversleem come to embrace these genres?
Thank you so much for asking to interview us, we love IDIOTEQ and really appreciate the support. Our general musical interests and inspirations all gravitate towards and include these genres. While we of course listen and appreciate all genres of music, when it comes down to writing songs our music just naturally incorporates screamo and post-hardcore into its DNA, while also implementing sounds that might fall in line with metallic hardcore, which for us, all of these genres and nomenclature just exist as a positive and cathartic way to express ourselves.
How did Riversleem come into existence and what challenges did you face in your early days as a band?
We formed at the end of 2019, wrote a few demos over the summer, and then quickly recorded our first EP that winter, of course, the pandemic affected any immediate plans or traction as an active band. Like so many other artists this halted things for us, but also gave us time to think about the eventual release of the songs and how we would envision future tracks once we could get together to record them. In 2021 we ended up self-releasing our first EP “A Debut Release by Riversleem” and were eventually fortunate enough to have it released on tape via Tomb Tree giving the songs a new audience.
Let’s kick off with some details behind this new wicked release on Zegema Beach Records. What led to your collaboration with Dave for “A Second Release by Riversleem”?
As we mentioned, our first EP was released on Tomb Tree which Dave Norman also runs, through that initial release we established a strong connection with him, and eventually, he also pressed that same EP on 7″ vinyl with Zegema Beach Records in 2022.
When the recording process for our second EP was coming to an end we hit Dave up and asked if he would be interested in putting this new release out on ZBR as well, and luckily for us, he was also into the new tracks and wanted to put them out.
Delving into “A Second Release by Riversleem,” what inspirations or stories paved the way for this EP?
Once we were all able to safely practice and spend time together as a band we rented an Airbnb in Richard, SK, and started to flesh out some new material, we had huge plans to just hash out a band new EP right then and there, but in reality it was just healthier to spend time together as people and friends after an intense year. We were able to start working on some stuff during this time though and that’s when we began to put together what would become the last song on this new EP “Antispore”. As far as general inspirations, personal challenges, mental health, injustice, and art are all concepts that have influenced the core ideas and overall feeling of this new release.
Could you give us a track-by-track commentary? We’d love to hear your insights on each song, from the composition process to the message behind them.
1. Eating Teeth
In terms of composition this song was one that Drew (guitar for Riversleem) had the riff and skeleton for a while now, and we knew that we wanted to flesh it out for a future EP. Eating Teeth in many ways is about reflecting on what we’ve creatively accomplished together as a band and people thus far, archiving the strong camaraderie that we have for each other, while also reconciling with what that might mean or hold for the future. The song’s tone and energy are abrasive and are meant to open the new EP “A Second Release by Riversleem” with a sense of urgency and confidence, almost as a proclamation of what the entire release is meant to invoke or represent.
2. Exit Essential Dread
This was the last song that we wrote for the EP and it came together from a combination of various ideas and compositional parts that at first felt overwhelming, but as the structure of it began to evolve and become more redefined, and feels more cohesive than ever. Lyrically the song is about personal reflection and the reconciliation with needing to reach out for help. It uses this idea of a “twin projection” or a rear projection from a film projector and screen to project what is viewed to the audience on the outside, alluding that something different might exist on the interior. We’d like to think that by the end of the song, there is an emotional decompression that lets out any resenting or repressed feelings, of course in the form of a breakdown.
Similar to Eating Teeth we’ve had the core of this song in the backlog for a while now and had even played variations of it live before, but it became a lot more frantic and immediate which feels great to listen to how it evolved and shaped into something new. In terms of the message or concept “Hammer” in particular speaks to social injustices and the systems that break, punish, and harm marginalized groups within all of our communities. Black lives matter, the land that we live on is stolen, and we need to fight for the rights and lives of trans folks and trans kids more than ever. Protect. Protect those brought down by the Hammer.
The longest Riversleem song to date, and it’s one that represents a lot of experimentation for us as a band. Connor (bass for Riversleem) wrote the main guitar part for the song and it felt slower yet heavier than almost anything we’ve ever written before, which makes the song feel very collaborative and a sign of growth for us, especially since Connor learned how to play bass in general exclusively for when we started Riversleem. It has a sort of slow burn quality to it which we all really enjoy from other acts that inspire us, but still feels exciting and fresh within our own style of songwriting.
Conceptually the song is about well, concepts haha. It’s about this push and pull between really digging into the minutia of ideas and postmodern qualities, but then at the very next second kind of shaking yourself off and grounding yourself from pretension. As a band we think very visually and appreciate all forms of art, so this comes up quite a lot, and it’s not meant to diminish any contemporary or postmodern art, its just about recognizing the “post-ness” of it all by being self aware, while also relishing in it, and then coming to terms with how exciting, yet tiring, those complexities are. Just from the act of explaining this feeling or concept to you, and realizing how difficult it can be, is essentially the idea of the song.
The cover art for the EP prominently features flowers. What symbolism or message do these flowers carry in relation to your music?
The cover art is a beautiful film photograph taken by our friend and collaborator Jacob Farrell, who has helped us a lot with the visuals for this release. From the get we knew we wanted this EP to revolve around the colour red and the ideas and emotions that can be associated with it, but were struggling to nail down a core visual for the cover, but when Kyle (vocals for Riversleem) saw Jacob’s photo he fell in love with it and knew it would be the perfect fit.
The flowers themselves don’t have any symbolic meaning, but the kind of softness or peaceful quality of the group of flowers, in contrast with the red tones, feels eerie and possibly peaceful in a morbid way which we do think works really well with the ideas featured on the release. The original photo is in full colour and not with the red tones, but going from green to red like the lyrics in Eating Teeth (“from allusions of green to fixtures of red”) was an important visual choice that we wanted to make.
It’s commendable that 100% of the initial digital proceeds will be donated to Chokecherry Studios. How did you get involved with them and why is their mission significant to Riversleem?
Chokecherry Studios is an incredible organization in Saskatoon that does so much important work for the city and gives many marginalized young people a space to create, learn, and just be themselves. Organizations like Chokecherry directly align with our values as people and we wholeheartedly believe that they are making a tangible difference in our community. We’ve previously done fundraiser shows for them in the past, and with our last EP we donated the digital proceeds to another organization, so decided to continue doing that and decided that Chokecherry would be a great space to donate to.
Please describe the music scene in Saskatoon. How has it influenced your sound and style?
The music scene is fairly diverse and at the moment is ever changing and evolving. There is a newly emerging hardcore/metal scene that is starting to take shape which is fantastic to see, and beyond that we have a ton of great folk, alternative, electronic, and hip hop acts that we’re sure have influenced us in one way or another.
Beyond yourselves, are there any local bands from Saskatoon you would recommend that resonate with your style or have influenced you?
Adolyne, Macrodoser, Man Meat, Swayze, and Alien To The Ignorant are definitely some great local Saskatoon acts that we would recommend that resonate with our style in one way or another.
What can we expect from Riversleem in the coming months? Any upcoming projects, collaborations, or tours you’re excited about?
Currently our band is operating out of 3 different provinces, so we’re just very fortunate to have this new EP out in the world. That said, we’re stoked to be included on the massive and incredible Coma Regalia compilation “The One who became Many” which is coming out on Zegema Beach Records this month.
Otherwise, we do have a few local shows lined up for the end of the year, and we’re looking forward to a few potential opportunities next year. In the background we’re also slowly working on new tunes, so hopefully folks will hear those sooner than later.
Finally, with the changes in the music industry and the way artists connect with fans, how do you envision the future of DIY releases and intimate connections like the one you have with your 7” distribution?
This seems to be an ever-evolving thing, and as a band who is still quite new we’re still learning the ropes. That said, we’ve been blown away from the response from both of our releases even at the capacity that we have had, and I do think that support from Dave at ZBR and even just the act of having our music available in a physical way means so much and goes a long way for helping to get out work in people’s hands.
The idea of someone holding a Riversleem 7” in their hands in Germany or somewhere very far from Saskatoon, just blows us away.
We also try our best to hit back anyone who reaches out and will continue to do so, so thanks everyone for the love and thank you Karol for the interview and great questions!