63830006 PC Kayla Menze
23.03.2023, Words by Payton Dunn, Photos by Argenis Hernandez and Kayla Menze

Riovaz paved the future of rave culture on his RIORAVE tour

The dance artist chats with DMY about his new 'Disturb The Norm' EP and what the future of his career holds

Dance music is officially back in the zeitgeist, but in order to capture the adoration of the post-COVID generation, rave has had to completely reinvent itself.

Right at the forefront of that cultural tidalwave is Riovaz, whose new Disturb The Norm EP is a eclectic collection of experimental dance tracks that pull from a rich repertoire of classic drum & bass and jungle records. That’s not the type of combination that you’d expect from the chronically online teen.

Even though Riovaz was surrounded by the widest assortment of clubs and raves possible growing up in Jersey City, that world didn’t start interesting him until very recently, telling DMY, “I didn't start going out until I was 17, [which was] almost two years ago. I was always just in the home making music.”

02980006 PC Kayla Menze

As I made my way to Camden Town to meet up with Riovaz ahead of his London concert, it was hard to ignore how much of that has changed. I sat in the pub on the first floor of Camden Assembly eagerly flipping through my notes. My train of thought was immediately broken by a roar of bass coming from the soundcheck happening above. It shook the entire room, so much so that the staff came up to ask me who was playing upstairs, thinking that it must be a full live band. I laughed. “It’s Riovaz,” I stated plainly. I ran up the stairs.

Riovaz and I sat down on the stage right across from each other. He had a sort of confidence and charisma that was infectious. It was one that had clearly come from his time touring around the midwest with digicore artists glaive and aldn.


Just above that layer of confidence was an even more visible layer of excitement. This was the first time he was actually headlining a tour, and he was prepared to lean all the way into it, saying, “The glaive fans didn’t really know who I was. It’s a different part of the internet. They don’t really know what dance music is. Me and glaive are two different kind of performers. They didn’t really expect the show I was bringing on stage, so they were kind of confused, but my fans get it! It’s cool seeing them understanding and fucking with the music!”

Perhaps I should’ve taken that as a sort of warning. I completely underestimated how rabid his fans would be for his music, and I mean that in the best way possible. When he stormed the stage later that night, it didn’t take long for the fans to open up a full-on mosh pit. This clearly wasn’t the rave culture of the ‘80s and ‘90s. This was an entirely new culture altogether.

Without a name for the new movement he was pioneering, he decided to dub it “RIORAVE.” In fact, he decided to give that name to both his genre and his tour, explaining, “Fans don’t know what to call my music, so I just combined it with the rave culture that I’m trying to push into my music with my name. ‘RIORAVE’ just made sense as my genre. [This isn’t] even a tour honestly. I’m probably just gonna call my next tour ‘RIORAVE’ again because it feels like an event.”

In the middle of his set, his friend and fellow artist skaiwater exploded onto the stage to sing his verse on ‘Hypnotized’, which was the only song on Disturb The Norm that featured another vocalist. That kind of restraint seems almost antithetical to the highly collaborative SoundCloud scene that Riovaz came up on, but for him, it only seemed natural.

Riovaz had made his way through that scene directly alongside skaiwater. “Me and him have gone on a journey together and as musicians. I met him when I was 14. The whole EP is about the journey and getting to know me as an artist. I feel like he's such a big part of my life as an artist because he taught me so many things about the industry and just music itself, so having him on the EP just makes so much sense.”

The two had become good friends when Riovaz was just in the 8th grade. skaiwater messaged him on Instagram, and the timing couldn’t have been better, with Riovaz recalling, “I was looking for people to [collaborate] with at the time to get my name out there. He was the perfect person! I was making rap music at the time. I was doing [melodic] rap shit and he was doing the same thing. Me and him would go together so well.”

That period of his life was drastically different from the new era I was watching unfold on the stage right in front of me. When he met skaiwater, he’d been recording songs on GarageBand using his Apple headphones. He was doing it all from the emotional safety of his cousin’s house, explaining, “I was scared to make music in front of other people except him. I didn't tell my parents I was making music for years.”

That facet of his life became impossible to cover up once his song ‘Prom Night’ went viral, racking up over 130 million streams on Spotify to date. “[My family] kind of just found out through my Instagram when [that song] was going crazy. I didn't tell my brother, but he found out through my Instagram too. I was hella embarrassed! I didn't want to tell anybody.”

That embarrassment had completely melted away by the time he got to London. The artist singing up on stage had undergone an entire musical metamorphosis. He’d even completely switched genres. It was like he was a completely different person.


Even though that musical switch had taken him to new heights and nabbed him a deal with Geffen Records, he’s now prepared to shake it up all again. The outro to Disturb The Norm, ‘Grown Hatred For You,’ stripped away all the synthesizers and rapid-fire drum machines, instead embracing a more reserved indie rock sound.

It’s an outro in a quite literal sense, serving as the end of this section of his career and the start of something new. “I really want to experiment more with guitar-heavy tracks and drum-heavy tracks — just rock shit! That song is the perfect outro to hint what the future is going to hold for me.”

Riovaz has clearly tapped into something real. We can’t wait to see where that new era takes him.

Stream Disturb The Norm by Riovaz below.

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