A Q&A with Owen Rivera
Puerto Rican roots from eclectic singer-songwriter…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
The title is ‘Feliz Navidad’ and it’s a cover and my take on the Christmas classic by Jose Feliciano. To me, it is very special because this song has always been a tradition to kick off the holiday season with my Puerto Rican family. I have many fond memories through the years of this song playing while celebrating, singing, dancing, and cooking during the holidays with family and friends.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
The hardest part for me was actually in the production. We were trying to find something to fit in the bridge of the song. I wanted to go with a guitar solo but after giving it a lot of thought we went with a sax solo and the rest is history. I love the saxophone and feel it brings a nice touch to the song. And I also wanted to make sure I honoured this original classic while still adding a few personal touches of my own.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
Michael Llyod is the producer of this release. He is such an incredible producer and has a long history of working with some of the biggest names in music history. I am very blessed to work with him and more importantly, learn from him. One of my favourite things about working with Michael is that he respects and encourages my input and feedback on the production of the songs. It becomes a collaboration of creativity and we work really well together and have a lot of fun.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
I want the listener to be able to make a connection. My music will have a mix from love songs to rock songs to timeless covers. I want listeners to have a moment while listening to my music that they are able to relate to and find an emotional connection with.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I will try! The creative process of making a song is my favourite thing about music with performing live a very close second. The challenge though is explaining it…hahaha. It’s a lot of what I feel which can be hard for me to explain. You ever just get a feeling about something and you just know what you need to do but you can’t explain it? That’s how I feel when I create a song. An emotion sparks a lyric sparks a verse sparks a chorus sparks a riff and off we go… when I create the instrumentation for it I’m always thinking of how to best serve the song and that emotion I feel. Once I take my thoughts and feelings into the studio and start recording and listening back it all starts to come together. Every song is different and takes its own journey.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Of course, Jose Felciano has influenced me the most on this project. I love watching all of Jose Feliciano’s live ‘Feliz Navidad’ performances, and there is a specific moment from one of his shows that spoke to me. He said, “And when I wrote it I wrote it to bring both cultures together…the American culture and the Latin culture”. Being from both cultures myself, I strive to do the same with my music and I am grateful for artists like Jose Feliciano who inspire me to do so.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
I would love to tour wherever my music takes me. Exploring the world has always been a dream of mine and if I can do it with a mic and guitar in hand all the better. There are two places though that would be very special to me. One is England because of the rich music history there that I have loved and studied my whole life. The other is Puerto Rico. I know it is a small island but it is an island that is home to many of my family members and a music culture I love. The venue I’ve always wanted to play since I was a kid is… Madison Square Garden in NYC. New York is a very special place for me but that is a story for another time…
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
I would have to say my original ‘Kissing Her‘. Guitars…Drums…Percussion…Horns are all giving you that Latin Rock Santana vibe that I love. Also, I have a version in all Spanish that gives the song a whole new life. I love singing in Spanish and can’t wait to share both versions.
What ambitions do you have for your career?
Only to have the start, beginning and end of my journey all be about one thing…just playing music. To be the best musician I can be, and also to be the best version of myself as well. I have always taken Lynyrd Skynyrd’s advice to just be “a simple kind of man”.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Anyone who enjoys and connects to my music is family so… “Hasta la proxima vez, mi familia” (until next time my family).
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