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Meet Shiraz Dhume of River Gods in Silverlake/ Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shiraz Dhume.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shiraz. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I personally started writing music at the age of 12. For my birthday, I asked my parents for a drum set and instead they got me a guitar. I kept holding out for the drum set, but after a couple of months it was clear that it wasn’t gonna happen. So I made the most of the situation and taught myself the guitar. As soon as I could play a couple of chords, I wanted to start a band and I arranged “jams” with kids from my grade where we just sat in different corners of the room and noodled on our instruments. Throughout middle school and high school, I played in a handful of bands but never truly committed to writing my own material until the formation of River Gods in 2013, when I was a junior in college.

While I was independently releasing music and sporadically playing shows as “River Gods” for a couple of years with a rotating lineup, the “true” formation of the band, as it stands now, happened in late 2016. My good friend Joseph Freeman had committed to learning my songs, first on guitar, then on bass, and finally on guitar. We recruited another friend from college, Matt Kranis, to play drums with us. This solidified our core lineup to record our proper debut album “Moodboard” in 2017.

Since then, it’s been the three of us writing and recording together. We’ve managed everything for the band within this small group, from booking shows to making merch and producing/engineering our own records. We released our sophomore album, “Let Me Live” in the summer of 2019 with the help of an independent DIY label, Dadstache Records, and embarked on two small tours. Now we’re looking forward to leveling up in 2020 and seeing what else is out there for us.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I wouldn’t describe any aspect of DIY music as a “smooth road”. Especially for smaller artists who self-manage, everything is a creative problem that requires a creative solution. Organizing shows, making connections, selling merch, creating content, booking tours, rehearsing, finding studio time – all of these are logistical and administrative challenges that artists navigate while somehow also finding time to write and practice their craft. That isn’t to say that this isn’t a ton of fun, but just maintaining your unit, staying well-rehearsed and busy and organized, is a lot of work on its own. To continue to grow from there and improve on yourself and make strides as artists is even more difficult.

Booking shows is the hardest thing by far, though.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with River Gods – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I would hope that River Gods is most well-known for our fun live shows. The thing I am most proud of with the band, especially this year, is our tightness as a live unit. After spending the first half of the year in the studio, then immediately embarking on our first two tours ever, as well as playing a handful of great hometown shows, we have totally locked in our setlist. I am fully confident in our performances. On the road, we’ve learned how to have fun, roll with the punches, and let our energy loose in any setting. Whereas getting ready for shows was a lot of nervous preparation two years ago, we are now comfortable and energized on stage.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Like I said before, the goal for 2020 is “leveling up” and I’ve planted that seed in my brain as the year comes to a close. In 2019, we had a fairly rigorous schedule, finishing up and releasing our new album and booking two tours. I want to expand on this in 2020 and do everything even better than the year before. I’m excited to continue honing our craft on stage, and we will also be working on more videos from “Let Me Live” to be released throughout the year.

One anomaly is that I am focusing less on writing new material as we go into 2020. In the past, we got into a bad habit of living in the studio, because it is where we are all most comfortable and creative. Immediately after finishing a project, we’d rush into the next one and begin writing, demoing, and recording more. This year, I want to give our new album space to breathe and grow on stage, as well as reach out to new listeners. I want to play bigger and better shows, get our album out to more people, and share new videos and pieces of content before moving onto the next thing.

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Image Credit:
Photos by Sophie Lilla, Mae Koo, Shabnam Ferdowsi, Gil Willow, and Anna Kuo

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