Toronto Just Offered Up Another Hot and Talented Musician, Named River Tiber

Tommy Paxton-Beesly, a.k.a River Tiber blew up on the Toronto scene after appearing on a Drake song — “No Tellin,” from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late — and collabs with Kaytranada, Pusha T, and BADBADNOTGOOD. But now he’s focused on the release of his new album, Indigo, most of which was recorded in the home studio he loves to work in.

“When you go into a large or pro-studio, it’s so devoid of vibe, ” he explained. “In my studio, I’ve got all kinds of stuff, from photography, to images of my influences, that I use to inspire me and gets me in the zone. It’s definitely way more productive…I like to be able to take my time with shit and not feel pressure.”

I loved the music his PR person sent me — Tommy premiered his new song “Acid Test,” on Zane Lowe’s radio show recently — and we had a cool interview, but I didn’t realize that he was also hot until I spiraled into a River Tiber Google search afterwards.

“He’s hot, right?” I asked my editor. “Yeah,” she agreed. “But it’s also because he’s talented.”

River Tiber is that dude, so read up on his creative process behind debut album, follow him on Instagram and check Indigo out when it releases on AppleMusic June 17.

Are you more into using live instruments or computers?

I would say that it’s 90% live instruments. I mean, I do program a lot of drums, and I love using electronics, but I’ve moved a bit more into the analog world. It’s really all about the imperfections of that stuff.

What’s your creative process like?

Experimentation, and then going back on whatever I’ve worked on and hone in on that. I don’t have a ton of gear or whatever, I have a couple of things I go to. For example, I’ve only ever owned one guitar, and I kind of just have honed in on my palette of sounds.

What about when you’re writing lyrics? 

It’s always evolving. I’m always writing lines here and there, little pieces of thoughts and mini poems. I write them down separate from any melody. I don’t always do that, but a lot of the time, on the record, there’s kind of stream-of-consciousness thing happening. But when I’m writing lyrics, they exist on the page first, usually. And I like for them to have their own rhythm and spacing, and even like the way they look and sound in my head when I read them. That’s definitely important to me.

Who are you lyrically influenced by?

D’Angelo for sure. Thom Yorke, although not like, crazy, since he has gotten a bit abstract. I’m influenced by written text too. Like religious text even. I wasn’t very religious growing up, but I do think a lot of those stories are really interesting.

How’d you get your name?

River Tiber is the river that runs through Rome, and I lived there when I was a kid, and went to school there, so I used to cross it every day.

Do you ever get sick of it?

Actually, I like it more as time goes on. It doesn’t have this really sharp meaning that is so out there or whatever, like it fits, but not smothering.

How did you come up with your album title?

I was thinking about a lot of different names, and “indigo” has a lot of levels of meaning to me, but the vibe of the music really just made sense for that title. Indigo is in its own lane.

So is it your favorite color?

No. Yellow’s always been my favorite color.

Do you like yellow and indigo together?

Not really. I mean, for me, color in general is just really…I can’t even explain it, but I just want to make projects that are inspired by color.

Did you know that purple is generally considered the color of the path to enlightenment? 

That’s crazy. It’s definitely an album about growth and change.

So was this album about growing up?

I think that’s a constant thing. A lot of what I’m writing about and thinking about is really kind of taking stock of where I’m at and the thoughts inside of my own head, and the conversation that you have with yourself. When you’re young, all of this shit kind of happens, and you don’t realize you’re a person yet, and without any of those larger existential thoughts, or whatever. This album was dealing with the constant state of being in that.

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