This is Martin Rivas…the man who has taken it upon himself to round up a fantastic host of musicians, in order to create a compilation album to benefit the Upstate New York victims of Hurricane Irene.
Jon Barker spoke to Martin about the project, which is due for release tomorrow, September 2nd
We first crossed paths as you were involved in a charity event with Alex Berger, to raise money for victims of the Haiti tragedy of January 2010, and since then, I have seen you involved in so many charity events. Can you talk a little about what these usually involve, who they involve and why you are usually among the first to volunteer your services?
They pretty much involve anyone who cares enough to get involved. I really don’t know why I volunteer as much as I do, other than that people need help, and I’m capable of helping. We all are.
Largely overlooked by New York City, it seems, how difficult was it to get people on board and to take the disaster’s impact seriously?
The internet is such a powerful tool for a situation such as this. When I saw just how historically devastating these floods have been, I immediately started retweeting and facebooking links to photos and stories. It’s very easy to bring a faraway place into someone’s home via the internet, and when artists like Rachel Platten started asking, “how can we help,” the idea germinated pretty quickly.
An area like Central New York State is so often overlooked, even when times are good. When you’ve got a big sister at the bottom of the state map that inevitably gets 99.5% of the attention, it’s easy to be overlooked.
And you’ve organised, for release, a 30 track compilation digital download to aid those who were affected in New York’s Upstate area by Hurricane Irene. There are some fantastic names included in this particular release, with Allie Moss probably being the best known in England (with her song Corner featuring in the BT Infinity adverts), but also Amber Rubarth, Alexa Wilkinson, Bess Rogers, Will Knox, Greg Holden and many other great singer-songwriters. Is this normal of musicians, or do you think its a unique aspect of the New York songwriter family vibe?
It’s gonna be close to 40 tracks actually. I believe that Ari Hest has something of a following in the UK, and he’s part of it as well. I really believe that the musicians currently doing what they do in New York City are among the most generous people anywhere. It seems that there is a constant stream of charity shows and benefit fundraisers and the like taking place in and around New York City. It wasn’t always like that here to this great a degree. I think that says a lot about this group of people.
Which song will you be contributing – will it be something from Sea of Clouds or The Convalescence EP, or something new entirely?
I’m still going back and forth; thankfully I can wait until the last minute as I’m compiling it, but I’m thinking of recording a new version of my song “North” for the compilation. It speaks directly to the love affair I have with the area that is so devastatingly affected, and it only seems right to share that sentiment, even in so dire a time.
What do you have planned following this?
The plan is to barricade myself in the studio with Alex Wong and record a new album sometime in late Autumn/early Winter, and I hope to have that out in 2012. But I’m finding that I naturally procrastinate to a fault when it comes to a project that serves myself. Compilations like After the Flood I can get done in 3 days, but something having to do with myself, like an album, just takes forever.
Is there anything more you would like to say?
If somebody needs help, don’t wait for your brain to come up with reasons why you shouldn’t get involved. Just run as fast as you can, chasing your heart.
The album, After The Flood: A Compilation To Benefit Upstate New York Victims Of Hurricane Irene, will be available exclusively on September 2nd, via www.aftertheflood.bandcamp.com
And for more info, head to Martin’s blog, by clicking HERE