As a byproduct of the TikTok era brought on by COVID-19 shutdowns, 18-year-old artist-producer Riovaz is reliving the joy of “Prom Night” again and again.
The hit track, which recently surpassed over 100 Million streams, has lifted Rio to unprecedented acclaim for his age — melding the confines of internet, dreamscape pop with pluggnb, rage, electronic, house and seemingly everything in between.
Now holding over 2.2 million Spotify monthly listeners, quarantine ultimately opened the door for many younger, lesser-known artists to be discovered and uplifted through TikTok. Stuck in the house all day, high school and college-aged kids spent their days in their bedrooms either on Zoom calls or scrolling though the app and making dances.
As a result, songs like “Mood” by 24kGoldn and iann dior, “Buss It” by Erica Banks and “Lets Link” by WhoHeem reached unimaginable heights, as these artists achieved colossal streaming numbers. From this, Rio’s “Prom Night” took the world by storm, as its “woke up, got down, now I’m feeling like death” jingle spring-boarded the teenager into a still fruitful career.
After making the track in his brother’s bedroom at age 15, Rio is now focused on breaking out of the box TikTok tends to confine artists to. “TikTok is all about a moment bro,” he said. “That sh*t is not timeless. It’s so hard to reach a certain level on TikTok where you can create timeless music and be consistent because you’re just scrolling.”
To achieve this, Rio’s mission is to become genre-less, categorizing all of his music as “rio rave” — a catch-all definition for his house, hyper-pop and electronic-inspired sound. Whether it be hits like December 2021’s “I Feel Fantastic” or his feature on KA$HDAMI‘s “Trust Issues,” each subsequent release for Rio has helped form the world he is setting out to create with his music.
Although he has not yet released a full-length project, Rio’s recent April EP Better Late Than Forever saw a huge development in his approach, as he experimented with making house and folk music for the first time. With songs like the aforementioned “I Feel Fantastic” and “God Save the Girl,” accompanied by a music video inspired by the 1950’s French film The Red Balloon, Riovaz took another step in the right direction building his fanbase and his aesthetic.
“Actually making (my music) into a video is the best,” he said. “Having the power to do that now with these big budget videos is so fun. I really like the hands-on sh*t. I don’t want someone just whipping up something and I just go along with it, I want it to be unique to me.”
Just getting back from a 7-date tour from Sept. 13-21, Rio now has his sights set on another EP, which he hopes will give an even better first impression for new listeners. While he doesn’t feel he or his fans are quite ready for an entire album just yet, he certainly has a good idea of what he wants his future to look like.
“This is an introduction,” he said. “This is really the starting point in establishing my sound and establishing me as an artist. That’s what I really want to have taken from this EP… They’re not ready (for an album) yet, they got one more EP in them. They’re not ready for that full-length project bro. When I work on an album, y’all won’t hear from me for a minute. I’mma be locked in just making sounds.”
While mapping out his path to prosperity, Riovaz was able to link up with fellow New Jersey native and OGM host Hakeem Rowe for his Our Generation Music exclusive interview. Throughout their discussion, the duo touched on the making and aftermath of “Prom Night,” Rio’s start making music, his inspirations, TikTok’s impact, his love for house music, making music videos, his first tour and much more.
Check out Riovaz’s exclusive interview below!