eXit pARTY: CHANGING TIDES
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART SAN DIEGO
eXit pARTy : Changing Tides
Andrea Chung's solo exhibition,
YOU BROKE THE OCEAN IN HALF TO BE HERE
A Short Play for Changing Tides
A SHIP IN THE WOODS
DJ sets by
$25 General Admission / 21+
*Special $15 SHIP Entry*
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Richard Hunter-Rivera had been involved in dozens of musical journeys by late 2011, when he began compiling a collection of recordings as Island Boy. Initially started as an introverted bedroom-project, Island Boy wasn’t meant to be his primary musical focus. But when his self-released Island Boy EP received a coveted “extraspecialgood” label from San Diego City Beat’s Great Demo Review in 2013, offers to open up for touring buzz bands and established artists flooded his inbox. Armed with newfound swagger and a self-designed live rig, Hunter-Rivera took Island Boy’s beat-heavy, Latin-infused, blissful synth pop to the stage. After a string of successful shows that summer and an invitation to play at CMJ in the fall in New York City, Richard knew he had uncovered a sound that resonated not only within but also with audiences and critics alike.IS
Born in the USA to Puerto Rican parents, Hunter-Rivera started Island Boy as a celebratory eulogy for his own personal California dream, the place where he sought refuge in 2006 after being displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “I was young and impressionable back then. Like many kids, I was trying on different versions of adulthood,” he recalls. “There is so much substance in California, and it is all dripping with style. But the inverse is not true. It took me a few years to sort through it all.” Ultimately, he found the scene in San Diego saturated with bands following the same shallow formula. “I wanted to do something unique, even if it was just for me and my close friends to enjoy,” he says, “something with soul, something with groove, something that reflected who I am, where I come from, not some played-out, post-punk trope. Besides, if you’ve ever been to a salsa or reggaeton club, you can’t help but feel that mosh pits are sexless places.”
That said, the lo-fi, DIY aesthetic so pervasive in much of 21st century California music infiltrates Island Boy’s production style. “I’ll admit I do like that about punk, the no-holds-barred-make-it-happen-on-a-budget aspect. I enjoy small, bandwidth-limited sounds. But I like to make my tracks feel big by stuffing as much diverse sonic content into all the little spaces I can find until the speakers are ripping apart.”
The dense, cinematic, and rhythmically dynamic sound of Island Boy is just one part of the package. Hunter- Rivera’s hauntingly smooth baritone provides a strong melodic counterpoint to all the bump, lifting his music out of the rigid niche of straight electronica and into the vast world of pop. “The vocal aspect of Island Boy began as performance art, actually.” he recalls, “A group of activist artists at UCSD held a one-time happening at this huge abandoned bunker/research facility in San Diego. The place was a maze of creepy chambers and Red-Scare era laboratories. I found a rusted-out concrete cell, who knows what it had been used for, to perform in. I really came into my own that night, as a vocalist...all I had was a mic, a guitar amp, and a cheap drum machine burping out ragged reggaeton beats. No band...no wall of fuzz to hide behind. I wrote down bits of words on a note pad and improvised the whole night through. It was absolutely liberating.”
Richard spent the second half of 2013 writing and recording, and in mid-2014, Island Boy’s debut LP, Basic Instincts on Rita Records (Gary Wilson, Labs). The album, which weaves together dembow rhythms, reverberant leads, and dubby-basslines into an experimental yet poppy tapestry of sound, was warmly received by critics (“Island Boy has made a beautiful summer record that should put this West Coast act on everyone’s must hear lists everywhere.” - Sjimon Gompers, IMPOSE). The record was also a popular summer pickup for college radio music directors (it charted on the CMJ 200 for months after its release) and was nominated for a San Diego Music Award. Following the release, Richard was invited to play various festivals including Echo Park Rising in Los Angeles and San Diego Music Thing. Island Boy has supported established acts including Dan Deacon, MS MR, Wild Nothing, Gary Wilson, Chad Valley, Keep Shelly in Athens, The Album Leaf, Astronauts Etc., SALES, Perfume Genius and many more. He has self-booked tours of the west coast, southwest, and east coast, as well as played internationally in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Island Boy’s latest effort, The Sea Between, represents a huge step forward for Hunter-Rivera both as a songwriter and a producer. His arrangements have never been this precise; his voice never this at ease, and his captured tones never as full and warm. The record has a coherent tropical, if not necessarily sunny, bent to its sound, at times gloomy, but always hot and danceable. Weather systems move quickly in the tropics, and by that token, the album twists and turns through diverse synth and vocal-laden movements accentuated with the thumping tumult Hunter-Rivera’s Latin-inspired beats never fail to deliver. Looking forward, the traditional and popular sounds of his homeland Puerto Rico filtered through his distinctly sophisticated and cultured musical worldview continue to be the driving force behind Island Boy’s upcoming compositions.
Recommended if you like: Ariel Pink , Washed Out, Dirty Beaches, Helado Negro, Buscabulla, Orchid Tapes, CASCINE
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