Karma Rivera Is Happy To March To Her Own Beat
Karma Rivera’s newest single “Can’t Trust” is all about marching to the beat of one’s own drum, and Karma has no problem beating that drum and marching along. Today we speak to Karma Rivera about her new single, her favorite producer, cover artwork and her desert island music selection.
Your new single “Can’t Trust” spawned from a Social Media dispute that you and another Portland artist got into earlier this year. During the heat of all that going down did you know that this was something that you would be writing a song about?
I actually wrote that song a couple of months before that drama. Clearly I have a history with having trust issues haha.
In the midst of that moment, I remember pulling up the pro tools session of Can’t Trust and immediately knew I wanted to release that song. It was exactly how I was feeling at the moment. The song was even more relevant to me at that time and solidified what I was already feeling like.
I love songs like that. When it’s relatable enough to make me personally attached to it. That attachment will make me repeat the song until I’m feeling different. And that’s really my approach when it comes to writing songs. My style is personal, very personal.
Do you often find yourself writing about your emotionally charged, frustrating, or just intense experiences?
I find myself writing about anything that impacts me personally. Whether I’m happy, sad, or frustrated, I will express it in my writing. And that’s what I love about being an artist. I can express these emotions through my writing. It’s very important to me to be real with myself more than anything. So when I write about my personal experiences it’s coming from an authentic place.
You’ve mentioned before that a big reason Portland isn’t known for its hip-hop is due to its lack of a substantial Black population. Have you been able to find your own community of support and understanding in Portland or does the lack of color in the area make it hard to find that?
The lack of Black people in Portland is why Hip-Hop culture in general, isn’t established here. It’s a very small music community compared to an LA, NY or Atlanta. But I still was able to find community here. A very supportive community that has helped me promote my sound in a city that isn’t really known for its rap music. I could perform at any venue in Portland and people will show up. I am forever grateful for that.
One of the things that stands about your last couple of releases, besides the great musical expression, is the cover artwork, from “Fallout” to “Down 2 Ride” to your latest, “Can’t Trust” all of the cover work is unique and really pops. Is that something that you have focused on, creating a whole package of art, both visual and sonic?
I think the best thing about being an independent artist is having full creative control. I love the creative process of it all. I love being a creative.
Obviously I love creating the music but I also enjoy figuring out what would be the best way to keep my story consistent when using different forms of art to promote my music. I love art. I love making attempts in trying to incorporate creative ways to present my reality.
It’s all storytelling. So my approach is much more than writing a song. I’m telling a story, sharing a vision but in my own way.
Do you have a favorite producer or a couple of favorite producers that you find yourself coming back to for beats again and again?
Gio Espanol is definitely my go-to right now. Gio produced both “Fallout” and ‘’Can’t Trust.” He’s from Toronto and mainly produces Latin style beats. I’ve found Gio on Instagram and I fell in love with his catalogue of music. It was exactly the sound I wanted to experience with while also staying true to my personal style of musicality. I have more songs with his production that are unreleased. In fact, the next single I’m planning to release soon is produced by Gio.
What does a day in the studio look like for Karma Rivera? What does it take for you to get into that zone and lay down the perfect take?
I usually start with warm up takes first. I write my verses before I hit the studio so that way I can just focus on my delivery and performance when it is time to record.
You did a pre-recorded performance for the Portland “Black Lives for Fire Relief” Telethon on the 8th of this month. What is it like doing a pre-recorded performance is it more difficult to get into the right mental space when there is no crowd energy to play off of?
It’s a different experience for sure. I love the energy from the crowd, I honestly believe it makes me a better performer. But obviously times are different now and I had to adjust. It was a challenge at first, but I think I got it down now.
You’ve been involved and performed music at a few different BLM events so far this year. What does that kind of involvement mean to you? Did you expect to ever be a voice of the protests in Portland?
Rap music is protest music for the BLM movement. I mean the Rap genre has always been perceived as this bold form of resistance and promoted a message of empowerment and social critique. So it makes sense why the music I create can be the energizer for these BLM events.
And no, I did not expect to be a voice in all of this. And I wasn’t trying to be. But I’m also learning how important music is during times like this. And I’m also learning how important it is to have loud truth tellers in this current social climate.
Who would you say is the biggest influence on your specific style of rapping?
Desert Island question, you can have one album, one single and one real live musician with you on a desert island for the rest of your life? What/who you bringing?
I’m bringing Dom Kennedy’s Westside With Love II album, Monifah’s “Touch It” single and Kehlani as my one real live performer. Honestly, I would be content with that for real.