EXCLUSIVE: Meet LGBTQ+ Supergroup rIVerse
Canadian pop/R+B group, rIVerse, is getting ready to take over airwaves and your hearts! The group, all openly queer, is made up of Dizz, Khadija, Monroe, and Zak. We got to discuss with them their new EP, living with HIV, and what’s next for these great friends.
You all met at an audition for a production of High School Musical 2. I have to know, who got it, who didn’t, and what roles you were trying out for?
Zak: All 4 members of rIVerse were cast in the Toronto Stage production of High School Musical 2! That was where we first became friends, in rehearsals and performing the show twice a day. Khadija was brought in as dance ensemble, Monroe played Martha Cox, Dizz was Chad Danforth (AND the choreographer for the 2nd run of the show), and I played the lead role, Troy Bolton.
What is the story behind your name?
Khadija: The name rIVerse came from Dizz. He had the idea for a group with this name even before the 4 of us got together. Initially, we were called REVERSE, because we always like to “go backwards” to draw elements from the music we loved growing up – particularly 90s/early 2000s pop & r&b. Then we disbanded for a year in 2016 and when we got back together, we chose to rebrand. We have always heard that the magic behind this group is the 4 individual members. We also know that as long as we always keep our friendship at the root of everything we do, then we will be successful. So, we changed our name to rIVerse to include the capital IV, the roman numeral for 4.
Dizz, you just publicly came out as HIV positive on February 7th in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. What do you want people to know about HIV?
Dizz: Yes, I made a public statement regarding my HIV status on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day because it was important for me to step fully into my truth and use this new situation in my life as a means to potentially help, educate and inspire others. What I want people to know about HIV is that there are several preventative measures nowadays that we can take to protect ourselves and others, including condoms and such things as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) & PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). Aside from that, if one does happen to contract the virus, they are still beautiful, worthy, valued, loved and their lives matter. All of their hopes & dreams are still alive and deserving of investment. Due to the many advancements in HIV/AIDS research, they can live very happy and healthy lives. The facts regarding HIV have changed and it’s important for people to know that. I hope that one day the treatments available can be easily accessed by all those who need it, especially those disproportionately affected in the Black community.
How do you manage to stay friends while in a music group?
Monroe: We always say that us being best friends is how we’ve managed to stay in a music group! The music industry is not easy and being in a group comes with all kinds of challenges that solo artists don’t face. Four different creative identities, different ideas or preferences, different communication styles, different personal schedules and challenges. Making everything fall into place to work together and continue moving forward at all times is no easy task! But we always remember that, above anything else, we are best friends, we love each other, and we share the same goal. We want success for our chosen family just as much as we want it for ourselves, so we always find a way to make it work.
Who are some of your dream collaborators?
Khadija: All four of us have different artists we’d love to work with. Dizz’s #1 influence he wants to work with is Babyface. I would love to perform on stage with Beyonce one day. Zak has always looked up to Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers) so working with him would be his ultimate goal. And Monroe’s dream collaboration is definitely Lady Gaga!
What is next for you?
Monroe: On December 31, 2020, we released our sophomore album, ‘Poison IV.’ This album is our attempt to use our music to offer the world the healing it needs, especially after everything we experienced in 2020. So, we are going to continue giving the time and attention we think it deserves to promote until it is a global success. The next big release from rIVerse will probably be a virtual concert of all the songs on this album, which we just started rehearsals for this month.
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What have you been listening to, reading, and watching during quarantine?
Zak: The four of us have pretty distinct tastes, so we may have collectively watched everything that is available to stream online during this quarantine. We have our latest music video for our single ‘BaeBeeBoo’ on repeat – we’re probably a good percentage of our own YouTube views at this point! And RuPaul’s Drag Race is a must-watch for rIVerse.
Dizz: Also, we’ve watched a lot of music/concert documentaries, because we’re always studying our craft and drawing inspiration from other greats. And, of course, we have been listening to ‘Poison IV’ non-stop. We completed and released this album throughout the pandemic, so it’s been magical to watch it all come together and go out into the world!