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Interview: G RIEL

G RIEL is a Latin music artist hailing from Winchester, VA that doesn't keep himself in one musical box. The second half of his name RIEL is an acronym for Rhythm In Every Language and is also a play on his birthname Gabriel. G RIEL prides himself on weaving in and out of music genres and languages with ease. One of his musical aspirations is to be universally known thanks to his bilingual versatility accredited by his Latin Amercan background. He started his musical journey almost ten years ago but began taking things seriously in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Now with several singles and his collaborative EP Karma released, he aims to show the world what he is about with his latest single Sin Testigos.

Jay: Congrats on having Sin Testigos featured on DJ David Marquez's Spotify playlist out in Germany! I know you had to be really excited to find out that news.

G RIEL: Appreciate that! Yeah, it was dope that DJ David Marquez added it to his playlist, that’s the essence of what RIEL (Rhythm In Every Language) is about. I can’t say I know too much German music aside from Rammstein but being able to break that language barrier feels really good to me. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from because music is the universal language that will always bring people from different backgrounds & parts of the world together.

Jay: Your latest hit Sin Testigos (No Witnesses) is a hypnotizing song that I see being in many club mixes. It's definitely a lively song that embodies the dancing spirit of Latin music. Then you have a more introspective track like Lograr (Achieve) where you utilize some Spanglish to display your vernacular versatility. In some of your songs, you flow better in Spanish than in English. How do you decide which song to do in English and Spanish or rap/sing in both?

[insert video here]

G RIEL: I don’t usually like to listen to myself after a song is out but Sin Testigos & Lograr do hold that replay value for me. It’s funny because Sin Testigos was written & recorded in 2020 so I’d been holding on to that track for two years. Like bro, I’ve gotten so much better between that timeframe! I used to be hesitant about making music in Spanish and it wasn’t until I recorded both Sin Testigos & Lograr that I felt more comfortable with it.

At this moment I’m in my Spanish flow and that’s what I’m showcasing with my next drops but I have a bunch of unreleased songs in English that range from R&B, Hip Hop, and I even got a Country Pop song in the vault. One day I could be recording vocals over a house record, the next day I could be recording over a Playboi Carti type beat & the day after that I might be writing a song to a Latin Trap beat. Basically, I don’t go into the studio thinking that I have to make a song in Spanish or English, although there are times when I’m more intentional with the concept of the track I’m writing but most of the time it’s decided when I’m in the moment.

Jay: Who are some of your Latin music influences? As far as I know, you're the only Virginia artist that blends rap music with Latin music on a consistent basis.

G RIEL: Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, Bad Bunny, & Anuel AA are the Latin artists that I personally look up to. That’s just to name a few though cause man, there is so much Latin music that has influenced me throughout my life. I’m heavily influenced by the pioneers of Reggaeton music, the current stars in the Latin trap scene, I’m a big bachata fan, and also being that I’m Salvadoran I’m also heavy into cumbia.

I do also wanna shout out to Swey Diaz, he’s an artist from El Salvador that was based out of Stafford, VA for a few years right up until he got poppin’ with his music and moved to Puerto Rico. He’s making big moves out there now but yeah you’re definitely right, there aren’t too many artists in Virginia & the entire DMV area that embrace Latin sounds like that. I'm hoping that changes in the near future because there’s so much potential for Latino artists here I’d love for more of us to be able to create & build together.

Jay: You only have one album and that was Karma released in 2019. What can we expect from your next album when it does come out?

G RIEL: It was a joint EP with my brother Michael Milner who also produced the project, so I still don’t have a solo project. I do have a collection of Spanish songs that I’m building as a solo project. I’m really tapping back into my Latin roots and I don’t want to say too much just yet but expect new flows & sounds from me on this one. I can also confidently say that this collection of songs contains the best music I’ve recorded to date.

Jay: Name your favorite album and why.

G RIEL: That’s honestly a very tough question but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would be Yeezus. I wasn’t even making music when that album came out in 2013 but Kanye is my favorite artist of all time too & listening to him go absolutely wild on Yeezus gave me this supreme confidence I hadn’t felt before. Almost 10 years later & the intro On Sight still sounds nuts!

Not to mention that during this era when he was preaching about ownership of the Yeezy brand and becoming a billionaire, most people were quick to dismiss him calling him crazy. Fast forward to 2022 and he’s a billionaire, isn’t that crazy? Everyone’s going to have their opinion on him as a person but that album holds so weight to me, it’s artistry at its finest.

Jay: Do you have any shows coming up soon?

G RIEL: I’ve had back-to-back shows in June & July of this year hosted by my people at Music Mindset called the Music Mindset Experience. It’s not only a music show but also an interactive event & I’m also looking forward to performing with them when they launch the Spanish version of these Music Mindset Experiences called Mente Música. The plan is to get back on stage in the upcoming months of September & October in DC for a couple of shows we’re currently working on getting dates locked in for. I still haven’t performed Sin Testigos live yet since its release so I can’t wait to be able to rock the stage with that track! I will for sure keep you posted with the dates once they become official.

Jay: What was the best no that you have ever received and why?

G RIEL: The best no I’ve ever received has to be literally right before the world shut down in March of 2020. I was scheduled to open up at a club show for Puerto Rican artist Casper Magico who is Anuel AA’s best friend. Casper is also signed to Flow La Movie, one of the biggest record labels in Puerto Rico. At the time it felt like a huge moment for me & it was a big opportunity to showcase my music to a mainly Spanish-speaking crowd. Long story short, everything got canceled due to the pandemic & I was not able to perform but I took that L as a lesson because it allowed me to go back to the drawing board. Once that happened, I locked myself in the studio to sharpen my pen game. I guess you could say that missed opportunity helped me hone my skills even more.

Jay: Who are some indie artists that you would like to shout out?

G RIEL: I feel like other artists are afraid to show love to their peers & I could go on all day naming other artists but like I’m really a fan, indie artists are powerful. My two favorite young artists right now that I want to give shout-outs are Simply T from Woodstock, VA & Emma Hadiya (Ems) who is from Winchester, VA. They are both not only amazing vocalists but also phenomenal songwriters. I’m really looking forward to seeing their evolution with the music because they are both fresh in the game and they have so much potential within their artistry.

I got to show love to my bro SuperTurbo out in Fredericksburg, VA. I went to one of his shows out in Richmond, VA in June & it was all the way lit! My other brother Michael Milner who’s like a jack of all trades because he produces, engineers, and writes, is his main collaborator. Turbo got this unique tone & cadence that is so ill to me and together with Michael, they’ve created this wavy underground sound that is so fire.

I also definitely have to shout out my boy Dorian Whyte from MD who’s out in NY now. Bruh has BARS, he brings that realness & that rawness that I feel a lot of music is missing nowadays, he’s like a breath of fresh air with his flow like for real. I highly recommend you to go check out Trials, which is a two-pack dropped in early 2022.

Lastly, I want to give my man HANZ his flowers. He is another VA native who’s out in New York now too & I actually got put on to you Jay, as a writer & journalist after I read the write-up you did on him. HANZ got so many lanes going for him and he’s equally great in each one of them whether it be him as an artist, producer, audio engineer, or DJ. He also lowkey introduced me to a lot of the music scene out here in Virginia.

Follow G RIEL on Instagram and Twitter.

Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.

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