Interviews

Questions For Rivulets

rivulets interview by Jesus Desdemicadiera

Photography by Jesus Desdemicadiera

 

Rivulets, Nathan Amundson’s musical moniker, has been making some sweet sad Americana for years, steadily releasing one killer record after another. Last year, he put out I Remember Everything on JellyFant Schallplatten, which was easily one of my favorite and most listened to records in 2014. Absolutely incredible stuff. Still can’t get enough of it. I reached out to see if he was willing to participate in my Q&A series, and (thankfully!) he was. Who knew he almost died rolling a car down a mountain?

 

What is the best way to die?
Ready, I would think. Or completely blindsided, doing something you love.

How do you think you’ll die?
Where I live now in Denver, I bike most everywhere I go, as long as it’s above freezing. Denver drivers don’t care much for people on bicycles. Cyclists are murdered here by automobiles, rage-drivers, etc. with regularity. I think that’s a likely way for me to go.

What makes you happy?
Hmmm. Dark chocolate, cocoa content 70%+. Cuddling. Hot, connected sex. All the usual stuff I suppose.

How close have you come to death?
I rolled a car down a mountain in Alaska once. [Check out the full story here.]

What does kindness mean to you?
Getting out of your own head enough to be present for everyone around you. Just literally giving people the time of day. It’s a struggle.

Where do you find love?
My fans – people who love my music. How can you not love them too? I fall in love all the time. At the movies, reading books. Just walking around I see like a half dozen girls every day that I want to marry immediately.

When were you most afraid?
When I felt like the world wasn’t listening.

How do you listen to music?
You know, I’m still rocking an iPod classic. Is that what it’s called? 160GB black iPod. I buy CDs and rip them at full WAV resolution. I’ll put stuff on my phone too but I forget it’s there. A lot of my music is being released on vinyl these days but I still don’t own a record player :(

Album Review

Rivulets – I Remember Everything (JellyFant Schallplatten, 2014)

rivulets - i remember everything album cover
RivuletsInto The Night (JellyFant Schallplatten)

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I fucking love this record. Everything about it. Rivulets, aka Nathan Amundson (backed here by a very capable bunch), has been steadily releasing incredible records that somehow still fly under the radar, even if they’re on high profile labels like Important (We’re Fucked from 2011 was just outstanding). I think this might be the one to break Rivulets out of the glass ceiling, though, even though it’s on a German label (but available stateside on the cheap), because it would be a goddamn travesty if anything this good came & went largely unnoticed.

This isn’t normally my thing, the singer-songwriter Americana country-ish thing a la Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, or Jason Molina (who gets his own tribute here with “Ride On, Molina”), but this is slower, sadder, weirder, and injects some psych & folk into the mix, but even then, on paper, I’d be like ok cool but I’m not going out of my way to hear it or anything. For some reason, though, I see strong similarities to drone king Kyle Bobby Dunn, two pained romantics making slow-sad-core, one going the drone route, the other down Americana lane, so regardless of your taste in music, this is 100% worth seeking out.

I Remember Everything starts out with “Reinforced / Delicate” whose lyrics are “And it’s reinforced, and it’s delicate. I’m not delicate. Are you ready now?” (which are the only lyrics in the whole song), so it sounds like you stumbled into the middle of a jam session, I mean who starts a record with “…and?” And the the songs are structurally straightforward, no tricks or whistles, they’re minimal, repetitive, & hypnotic, sometimes the song is essentially a repeated chorus (see “Reinforced / Delicate”), sometimes (not always) short and like a brilliant one-off idea with only a vague beginning and end, the full band equivalent of notes on a napkin, and all of this works so goddamn well. Where Rivulets truly shines, though, is mood & sound. This is some sad fuckin stuff, not like Giles Corey levels of depression, but definitely bummed out (lyrics like “My favorite drug is sleep”) and a little bit pissed (“Isn’t it time you found your own place to ruin?”), it’s dark but not too dark, and the sound is really what gets me, it sounds like Amundson is at the bottom of a canyon with his rich voice and rusty guitar echoing down the cliff sides, sounding simultaneously huge and intimate, and it deeply resonates with me, not so much metaphorically (although that too), but physically, like the chords, tones, and drones are tuned to the frequency of my body, everything in this just feels and sounds so right to me, I just can’t get enough of it, the resonance is too strong, and it all adds up to a perfect fucking record.

Album Review

Rivulets – We’re Fucked (Important, 2011)


RivuletsSheep Among Wolves (Important)

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I’m writing about We’re Fucked because it’s not normally the kind of thing I write about AND it’s not the usual Important fare. Rivulets is usually Nathan Amundson’s solo project but on this one he’s expanded to a three piece (drums and another guitar, maybe?). This is some somber stuff, with songs about how Amundson is angry, or in love, or both, or something else, I’m not entirely sure as lyrics have never been my forté. That’s the feeling I get from this, though. Way dark and almost definitely not happy. Mostly a quiet, intimate sound, just Amundson singing in his earthy falsetto with his guitar, acoustic or electric depending on his mood, both sparse and rich, occasionally building to loud foot stomping, chest thumping moments of emotional fury. It’s truly amazing stuff that seemed to be ignored by the circles I find myself in, perhaps just because it’s got more traditional sounding song structures and stuff? Fuck that. We’re Fucked deserves your attention, regardless of where you think your musical interests lie.