Chatting with rIVerse
There are hundreds of K-Pop YouTubers—from reaction channels and cover performers all the way to crack videos and party games. However, not as many viewers look for people who have the experience to back up their comments and reactions. rIVerse is a pop and R&B quartet based out of Canada and the team behind the rIVerse Reacts YouTube channel. When Dizz, Khadija, Zak, and Monroe aren’t making their own music, they react to other artists’ releases, giving us an insight into what fellow performers think of the K-Pop world.
Q: For those unfamiliar with rIVerse, could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about rIVerse?
A: rIVerse is a pop/R&B group from Toronto, Canada. Our mission is to represent the underrepresented. We are a diverse group unlike anything seen in mainstream media–members of different backgrounds, races, genders, sexualities, and body types. We like to create great music, an energetic live show, and high-quality content across social media to show that when we celebrate our differences and come together, we can win!
Q: How was rIVerse started?
A: Band member Dizz has had the vision of creating a music group since he was 14 years old. He has been working on this dream for many years, but it wasn’t until we all met as cast members of the Toronto stage production of High School Musical 2 that rIVerse was formed.
Q: How would you describe rIVerse music style?
A: Our music is very in line with current Pop and R&B tracks, with a lot of influence from our favorite era of music, the ‘90s & early 2000s.
Q: Do the rIVerse members have specific roles within their group (vocal, rapper, producer)?
A: We have always referred to ourselves as a well-oiled machine, with each member filling a specific role and having certain jobs even beyond the music, like a choreographer, business manager, or administrative manager. We do it all! Since we have discovered the world of K-Pop, though, we’ve started using the titles idol groups use as well. Dizz is the leader & lead vocalist. He is also the main songwriter and choreographer. Monroe is the main vocalist and maknae (the baby of the group!). Khadija is the main rapper and main dancer. Zak is the visual of the group and a vocalist.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
A: Our journey inspires the songs. Every song is written based on what we've experienced and where we see ourselves going. We try to put all of those ideas into a song to express where we've been and move us in the direction of where we'd like to be.
Q: Who was the first to discover K-Pop within the group? How did the rest of the members become fans?
A: Monroe probably heard K-Pop first, when she got to see the Wonder Girls live on stage opening for the Jonas Brothers. The rest of us discovered K-Pop when we did an interview on the YouTube channel Q+A With Lady K and she invited us to do a few episodes of her reaction show, Lady K Reacts. We were blown away by the talent of the K-Pop idols we saw that day!
Q: What made you decide to start recording reaction videos?
A: After being introduced to K-Pop on Lady K’s channel, we wanted to film a few reaction videos of our own to discover more. That was the beginning of rIVerse Reacts. The very cool thing is that we were brand new to the world of K-Pop and we have been able to learn about and discover new artists and music through this channel, and our viewers have been part of the journey from the very beginning.
Q: What is your favorite reaction you have recorded so far?
A: That is probably different for each of us! Dizz got very excited during BLACKPINK's “Kill This Love,” Khadija's favorite is SHINee’s “Excuse Me Miss,” Monroe's is definitely BTS’s “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” and Zak loved A.C.E’s “Take Me Higher.”
Q: rIVerse had the opportunity to make a trip to South Korea last year. What were some of your favorite experiences? If you had the opportunity to go back, what would you do that you didn't do last time?
A: South Korea was amazing! One highlight was definitely busking and getting to perform in front of new audiences. It was amazing how many people walking by had no clue what to expect from us, but stuck around for the entire show and were big rIVerse fans by the end! When we go back, we’d love to perform on more and bigger stages. We also look forward to meeting more of the IV League when we’re out there! Every day, people were recognizing us and coming to say hello, take pictures, etc. Next time, we’ll definitely set up a proper meet and greet in advance to make sure we can connect with the IV League properly in Korea.
Q: How did rIVerse establish its unique relationship with VAV and ATeam Entertainment?
A: When we were in Korea, our video producer Leah helped us set up a meeting with Ryan S. Jhun, CEO of ATeam Entertainment. It was a great conversation and we enjoyed being in their space, seeing where they work and train. They asked us to film a reaction to “Senorita” on-site at the ATeam office. We also met a couple members of VAV while there. So when they were on their world tour, we got an email from ATeam’s marketing department inviting us to react to their latest comeback, “Thrilla Killa.” It was a great experience to be invited to VAV’s concert and get the chance to meet them backstage! We look forward to connecting with ATeam and VAV again!
Q: Who has been your favorite group or artist to see live?
A: The VAV concert in April was our very first K-Pop concert ever! We're so grateful to ATeam for inviting us out and it was amazing to see all the hard work and talent those boys put into their live concert! We are excited to see more groups and artists live in the future.
Q: Who are you currently listening to? (Both K-Pop and non-Korean artists)
A: We listen to a lot of different music all the time. Currently, rIVerse is playing a lot of K-Pop, especially BLACKPINK and BTS. We also love K-R&B, so we listen to a lot of Crush and Dean. [As for] Western artists, these days we enjoy H.E.R., Lizzo, and Billie Eilish. And we ALWAYS go back to our throwback artists: Destiny's Child, Babyface, Britney, Backstreet Boys.
Q: Do you think Korean music has influenced your own music style?
A: Korean music hasn’t exactly influenced our own music style, but we feel our music is already very in line with what is happening in the Korean music industry. We’ve always stood out as something very unique in North America because no one else is really doing what we do. But K-Pop fans immediately relate to rIVerse because there are a lot of similarities between rIVerse and many K-Pop groups.
Q: As artists, what is one thing you admire about the Korean music industry?
A: There is so much work ethic in the Korean music industry! The idols train and rehearse so much, and it shows in the caliber of their performance, their vocals, their dance ability. It is a very competitive industry, so not just the idols but the producers, songwriters, choreographers, music video directors, marketers—everyone works so hard to create the best quality content. It’s so inspiring to see and it makes us want to work harder everyday!
Q: From the Korean music industry, who would you like to tour with? Share the stage with?
A: There are a lot of artists we enjoy, but the IV League has often said we would get along well with BTS. We have similar messages for our fans and a shared goal of using our music to address important issues. The story of our journey as a band is quite similar to theirs. And they just seem like really fun guys!
Q: Who is your favorite girl group? Favorite boy group? Solo Artist?
A: We all have different favorites! Dizz loves Super Junior. Khadija is really into Red Velvet. Zak loves A.C.E. Monroe loves…. everyone! All of us really enjoy the K-R&B artists like Dean, Crush, and Seo Inguk.
Q: What is your favorite concept for boy groups? Girl groups?
A: We aren't as familiar with all the different concepts yet, but we think we're really into the “girl crush” concept. We've loved the fierceness of groups like 2NE1, 4Minute, and BLACKPINK.
Q: Any advice for aspiring singers/songwriters?
A: Our biggest advice is to love yourself because people will connect with you and your music through truth, and you can only share your truth when you know and love yourself. Also, know your brand; you need to have something identifiable that fans can recognize in such a saturated industry. Our last advice is to study other artists; look at the legends of different genres to learn and grow.
Make sure to follow and subscribe at all rIVerse social media accounts and congratulate them on their recent showcase!