Let's face it: "Chillwave" has become a lackluster blanket term to throw over music that's pretty and synth-heavy. To label Rivka as chillwave, then, would be lazy — but to reject the term entirely would be to ignore a large part of the duo's sound and influences. While its music follows that ethos of dreamy and lush soundscapes, the band actually takes inspiration from some unlikely places.
"Growing up, I would just listen to gospel, but eventually I ventured off and listened to Southern hip hop and trill beats," says Reggie Wilkins, the keyboardist and synth orchestrator of the pair. "Any Southern rapper, they all pretty much have the same beats. It's kinda like a formula, but I always liked them."
It might be hard to hear the signature Southern crunkness one associates with the likes of Rick Ross and Lil' Wayne, but there is a hip-hop element to Rivka's music. Tucked under Rebecca Dulberg's ethereal vocals are the trill beats that hit Wilkins' ear in just the right way. Surround those snare rolls with churchly melodies, and Rivka does a good job of breaking the chillwave shackles.
Wilkins and Dulberg are both predominantly self-taught musicians; they first met on Pitt's campus, where they're still students.
"I was at an event one night that he was playing piano at," Dulberg remembers. "I messaged him on Facebook, then we just started hanging out and he started making songs on [the production software] Logic. It kind of just developed."
There's an organic feel to the pair's music, a feel that they say has come a long way since they put the first handful of tracks up on their Bandcamp page. The hurdles that come with making electronic music, Wilkins admits, are all in handling and understanding the software.
"Totally threw my stuff into [Logic], went for it and found out I was doing everything pretty much wrong," he says with a laugh. After about a year of performing live and some software tutorials, Rivka is prepping to release a fresh EP in the spring — one that will show the band's growth and newfound maturity.
Rivka's tunes can be found at rivka.bandcamp.com.