River Tiber is an exciting new project from Toronto multi-instrumentalist — and just straight up mentalist — Tommy Paxton-Beesley. The debut record Synapses is an impressive outing for such a young artist, especially considering he has done all of the playing, writing, and producing on the record by himself.
We've been playing it for several weeks on The Signal and have fallen in love with it. So we thought we'd give you a chance to stream the whole album here to check it out.
ListenStream Synapses by River Tiber.
I sent a few questions to Paxton-Beesley, to help shine some light on his process and his influences. But first, have a look at his video (which he also did himself).
Where did the name come from?
The River Tiber runs through Rome. I spent a small part of my childhood in Rome, and it had a profound effect on me.
You've done so much of the work on your own (playing the parts, recording, producing, making videos). How do you do it all?
When I'm working on music, I envision projects vertically — the way each part interacts with all the other parts in layers. I'm very visual when it comes to music, I draw on visual inspiration to write and in turn try to evoke a certain imagery and vibe with the production and music. It's not necessarily easy to write, perform, record, produce, shoot, edit, direct, etc., but I find it so necessary to understand each layer of a piece of art. I'm trying to build a foundation of understanding so that I can better collaborate with other disciplines, too; if I'm working with, say, a director, I want to be able to speak their language. To sum up, I think I just feel the need to dive in.
How are you getting the record out into the world?
I've been offering downloads from the website, and I printed a run of CDs independently. The music videos are probably the biggest factor in getting people to share the record though.
What's a River Tiber live show like?
I work with three other musicians live and it's a real expansion of the recorded sound. Thadeus Garwood plays the drums and uses a sample pad for some of the digital drum sounds, John Mavro plays guitar and David Lewis plays the bass. I sing, switch between keys and guitar, and run some textures through Ableton Live. Our live show is constantly evolving. It brings the record alive.
If I were to ask you to dissect the meaning in one of your songs, what would that look like?
This question is really hard. Sometimes I feel like excavating the songs can overexpose them in a way, although I love the discussion of what inspired them. The meaning of the songs constantly evolve for me though, often because I'll forget what I intended as I was writing an individual line, and I write in a way that tries to capture meaning with a wider net. Sometimes the songs are written in bits and pieces over a long period of time, so they grow at a similar pace to my experience. I don't usually sit down and shed everything that I've stored up; I collect pieces along the way. It's hard to answer what inspired them concisely because each song is a collection of many, many inspirations.
What are you listening to these days?
I'm always listening to different stuff, but this week it's been mostly James Blake's newest, Atoms for Peace, Kendrick Lamar, Boards of Canada, BBNG and some stuff my boy KwikFiks has been up to. I try to keep on my new music tip as much as possible but sometimes you really have to sit with a record and tune everything else out.
Could you list some of your most important influences? Teachers?
I don't know if I could make a comprehensive list of my most important influences because there are so many. More than listing particular artists, I think my biggest influences have been all of the musicians I've personally met, studied with, been friends with, lived with, played with and worked with, especially here in Toronto's scene. I've also been lucky to have some incredible teachers from elementary school through to college. I was in Toronto's Claude Watson arts program from fourth grade all the way through to senior year in high school, and encountered so many incredible teachers from every artistic discipline along the way. I couldn't be more grateful for that.
River Tiber website