Contrary to what his name may imply, Riley the Musician is more than just a musician. But for him specifically, music is the driving force behind it all. A creative mind that wears many hats (and sometimes wigs), Riley was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri where he learned to find his own influences and inspiration. Specializing in a brand of music he and his friends/collaborators coined as “Alternative Internet,” he has been making music over the past two years with a range of influence from Andy Warhol to 100 gecs. His blend of electronic, pop, and hip-hop turns youthful energy and confidence into a sound that could only be possible via the Internet. We had the opportunity to chat with him over video, where we discussed everything from his past to his plans for the future.

In your own words, who is Riley, the Musician?

I’m all about local. I’m a kid from Kansas City through and through. I’m a Midwest boy and I just love the Internet and I love all things art. And not a lot of people are like that from here. So I’m just a kid from Kansas City who makes Internet pop music in his garage. That’s really it. That’s Riley the Musician

Can you tell us a little bit about the dynamics of your musical friend group?

It’s just like any other friendship y’know. At first it was a little weird, but all of my friends are over the Internet. I have friends here but I mean, all of my new friends. I meet them online and then we’re like, “Okay, let’s meet up in L.A. sometime.” or, “Let’s meet up in Kansas City, I’ll fly you out.” Our dynamic is just like somebody you know, your best friends right next door, except you make music instead of playing Call of Duty together. And we just all kind of did it and we were all on similar paths. Like when I make music with my friend Josh Maison it doesn’t feel like work, it just feels like we’re making tunes. We explore lots of song ideas and just try to find the ones that connect the best.

Could you describe where the term “Alternative Internet” came from and how you would define it?

We coined the term (recently) and I literally just shot it to everybody. I was like, “OK. We’ve been making music for two years. We don’t know what the hell this is like. It is different. So we should call it something.” And I thought, we’re not really pop. We’re not really hip hop. We’re kind of alternative to the notion. We’re kind of a post Internet type thing. A lot of the stuff coming out right now like everything that came out of P.C. music or 100 gecs culture is super Internet based. We’re kind of like post-Internet, kind of like postmodernism in a way. So I was thinking, “I guess we are just like alternative Internet music”. We’re the next generation that’s going to come up, the next wave that people really pay attention to. And actually all of my friends fall into that demographic in my group. So that’s really where that term came from.

What are some other auxiliary pursuits that you have embarked on or arere planning on embarking on?

We want to shoot big, but we still want to come across as authentic. One of the biggest things I’m working on, I’ve been talking about it for years and years, is directing a movie. I’ve had this script in my head for ages and ages, I’ve shown it to all my friends, and we’re really planning to shoot it either at the end of the year or the start of next year. I really want to get into film because I feel like a lot of artists aren’t exploring that and I don’t want to just put out music videos all the time. I want to put out the next step up realistically. Hopefully I can fly all my friends out to one place, get them together, and we can just film this movie that I’ve had in mind. That’s really my next embarkment. It’s all about asking myself, “Well, now I have to be a director. I’ve been a musician all my life. How the hell do I direct a movie like I’m a kid from Kansas City?” So learning about that, learning about film theory, learning about different shots, lighting, everything like that, it all makes sense. It’s just a process. So, yeah, that’s where I’m going. I’m always gonna do music with it. Like I want to do the soundtrack. That’s really where my future is headed… movies and music.

Do you think it would be a music based movie like Kanye’s “Runaway,” or a straight feature film?

That’s really funny you say Runaway, I love Runaway. I love older movies like Lost in Translation or the Virgin Suicides. I want to make a movie like those. I really love slice of life. I think that the pacing of them is really nice and it just rips your heart out. I’ve never had a movie really do that to me and it is just so raw the way they’re shot. It would definitely be loosely music based. I’d probably make a soundtrack for it and repurpose some old demos, but it’d be a full length movie, y’know, an hour thirty.

You were talking about how you were born and raised in Kansas City. Did you pick up a certain sound or attitude that influenced the way you make music and the way it sounds?

For sure. Kansas City is weird because it’s not exactly huge for music. In high school, I did a lot of electronic music. This was like PC Music’s prime peak and I would do a bunch of stuff like that and then somewhere around college, I started interning at this Hip-Hop studio downtown and I got all sorts of different types of influences and culture through that. The Kansas City scene, it’s kind of loosely based around hip hop and pop mostly. There isn’t really like underground electronic music so I was like, “Oh, shit, nobody’s making electronic music here. I’m the only one doing this, this is weird.” So I had to kind of infuse both of them. So that’s kind of where my style came from. And of course, by making things in my bedroom naturally, like the DIY sound of using my Casios and things like that. It’s kind of a mix between bedroom Hip-Hop, Pop and Electronic which is really neat. I love the music here, but I want to move to a different city for sure and take it all in.

Where do you have your eyes set for the future?

Everywhere that my friends are at. They all want to move to L.A… I guess it’s kind of a natural thing where any kid wants to move to L.A. y’know. I’ve been there three times. I like it. I would say either L.A. or New York. West Coast or East Coast. I might be leaning more towards New York at this point.

How do you approach implementing ideas from other creatives and creating something new with them?

I feel like you’ve probably heard the term “Great artists steal.” That’s true. Everybody takes influences, you know. There’s nobody that exists that hasn’t. It’s all about taking as many influences as I can fit within the same realm. I can’t just take one idea. Like if I just took 100 gecs I would just be 10 gecs, you know. I would just be making out OK. I want to take as many ideas and put it into one, therefore, it makes a new product every time. So taking things from the art world, like Andy Warhol, taking his paintings, mixing that with the crazy ecstatic sounds of P.C. music. One of my favorite producers is AG Cooke. They kind of blend together well because they’re so postmodern, so ironic, and it blends together because of that. It’s about finding these things that will fit with me and resonate with me and appear special to me, but are also able to blend together. You can’t put like, Keith Urban and 100 gecs together. I’m sure you could, but that just wouldn’t be me. It’s just finding things within the same realm.

At this point next year, what would you have liked to accomplish?

I’m always scared of those things, saying what my full goal is, but I think my entire goal is to just work with more people. I love working with people. Josh when like I am super active in their current projects, so like just expanding myself out there. I want to be like your favorite producer’s favorite producer. Basically, I want to be working with everybody at a certain time. I want to be the next Eddie Cook or Max Martin.


What have you been listening to lately in your spare time?


A whole variety of things.The new Bladee album, which is very, very good. The beats and the production on it is insane. I’ve been listening to a lot of Wu-Tang Clan, and this is gonna sound crazy, but I’m just now getting into Death Grips, The Money Store specifically. I never really understood it until this week. Specifically all of those the most accessible Death Grips songs. I’m in love with it right now. It’s all new to me. So I’m like I’m on like a five year delay on every new music honestly. But I think that keeps it fresh.

Tell us about your upcoming EP “Ana Kennedy.”

It’s a celebration. Some of my favorite music feels like a celebration. It feels very happy, but it still feels kind of melancholy.I love strings of orchestra and music. I Wonder is one of my favorite songs ever and I love the orchestration on it. I love the buildup of it. I wanted to do something similar to that. But in my bedroom, which is very difficult. So it feels like a celebration. It feels like everything’s coming together and it feels like it’s showing what’s to come on. As for who is Ana Kennedy? Ana Kennedy is a character I created. So I really am inspired by the 60s as well like JFK, the Kennedy family. but I couldn’t call my project John F. Kennedy or Jackie Kennedy. I had to come up with a new character that kind of felt like the 60s. So I was like, “OK, Ana Kennedy.” They won’t sue me for that, you know. So it’s just kind of the girl I have in my head. She is the main character of the movie.

Is there anything else you wanna say to the people who will be reading this?

I do have one thing. Josh Maison, “Superstar.” I’m working on his album. It’s amazing. It’s my favorite album of the year. He is the hardest working individual I know. He’s so special. And this album is gonna do great things for him and I love him. So that’s the only thing I want to say. I look forward to that. Besides Ana Kennedy. I think I think it’s going to do great things for us