River of Kings goes 'cinematic'

By Joe Leary

River of Kings is the latest musical project of Jordan Irwin.
Photo by @octoberswolf

River of Kings is the latest musical project of Jordan Irwin. Photo by @octoberswolf

Having been a member of various bands over the years, River of Kings is the latest musical project of Jordan Irwin. With a new EP called Bleak Sounds, Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with the multi-faceted singer/guitarist.

24: You’ve been in a few different musical collaborations. When and how did the River of Kings project come about?

JI: I’ve been working on my own music in between other bands, music that wouldn’t fit with those other projects, but recently I’ve made it more of a priority. I’ve spent the majority of the last decade playing the sideman in bands, so with the dissolution of the last one late last year it seemed like a good time to focus on my own project.

24: How do you describe the concept?

JI: I keep referring to it as ‘cinematic rock,’ as the sound of my debut is pretty expansive, somewhere along the lines of Interpol/The National/Arcade Fire. Bleak Sounds EP is filled with lots of chiming guitars and layered vocals, but the music I’ve started recording for my next release has taken a different turn with a much heavier rock sound to it. The sound and direction of River of Kings will likely change from release to release.

24: How did you arrive at the name?

JI: I’ve never liked the sound of my own name as an artist name so I’ve always used pseudonyms for solo projects. With the help of my fiancé (who is also my photographer/graphic designer) I decided to make a name that would play on my names to make it a bit more personal. Since I was named after the Jordan River and my two middle names are both the names of some lesser-known kings, we came to River of Kings, which I thought had a good ring to it.

24: What were you influenced by early on in order to pursue music?

JI: Much Music in the mid-90s (you know, back when they actually played music). When I was about 11, I started to get really into rock — specifically what was popular on Much, listening to Bush, Silverchair, Our Lady Peace, Nirvana and Green Day, to name a few, made me want to be a rock star. Naturally I tried starting a band in Grade 7 when I couldn’t play anything yet so I taught myself to play the bass guitar. A few years later I went through my classic rock phase and got really into Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, learning to play the guitar around the same time, so that was pretty hugely influential on me, spending most of my high school life in the music room and playing in different bands.

24: Having gone through bands, is it a completely different experience as a solo artist?

JI: Very different, especially since I haven’t even put together a band for live shows yet. Since I do all of my own recording in my little home studio, I’m essentially always in the studio, always working on music, always writing. In a band it gets really complicated trying to schedule time for rehearsals, for writing, for recording and it only gets more difficult as you get older and lives get busier. It’s a lot simpler when all you have to worry about is yourself.

24: Your EP is titled Bleak Sounds, but the reviews have been rather glowing.

JI: Bleak Sounds is really a reflection of all of my musical influences and me pushing the boundaries of what I do musically. Anyone that knows my previous band, Whoa! She’s a Babe, will see that it is a pretty big departure from the heavy riff rock that I had most recently been playing. This EP is about as personal an album as I could make as I wrote everything, recorded and engineered everything, produced it and mixed it myself, and had my good friend and frequent collaborator Jesse Karr at Rain City Recorders to master it, so it was a little nerve-racking to send it off for reviews and see what people actually think of it, like I was really putting myself out there for the first time. I’m really proud of how it turned out so it is great to see that other people dig it, too. 

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