We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Rivera and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stephen, what matters most to you?
“Presence: The fact or state of being present”. The potential for genius and inspired thinking seem to live in moments of complete presence. When I say ‘presence’ I mean total immersion, undistracted, connected to your environment, your collaborators, and your tools. It is the intention of giving your undivided attention to the process. It is being truly “involved”. And when I say “inspired thinking” I mean an idea that has been inspired to you, seemingly shot from who knows where into your mind, which causes a fire to burn in your belly that isn’t extinguished until the idea comes to life. It’s as if ‘presence’ is the open door for such thinking. Ultimately, in-depth planning or intellectualized understandings of a certain process prove to be insufficient, less productive, less impactful, or incomplete without that almost meditative presence, which makes us conduits for what is really going to work. Is it easy to do every day? No, definitely not. In fact, It seems to show up less and less in the social media age, It feels like a constant practice of returning to the moment and more mediocrity is born of that distracted state of mind than anything. But if there is a worthy endeavor that can make all of our wildest dreams come true, I believe it to be practicing our commitment to genuine presence, and that unencumbered focus on the moment regardless of the task. As I go through the same process over and over again whether it be music, video, photography, or graphics, I find themes; distracted (by phones, Tik Tok, gossip, etc.) frantic, messy, frustrated, upstream, incompletion, and stagnancy are a family. Focused, deliberate, calm, collected, open, flexible, efficient, flow, and presence are also a family. Luckily, we get to choose.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart…..I don’t think I knew the answer to this just a year ago, and at least some part of it is not something i could have perceived of myself without feedback from collaborators. But i think I am figuring it out. What sets me apart seems to be my intention and my process. Ultimately, from an individual POV, my intention is to be tuned to my authentic self, present enough to receive the inspired thought that will inevitably yield the result that I truly want. That is true no matter what type of project I am working on. Not the idea that this or that person will like, not the idea that abides by this rule or that rule, but the inspired idea, behind my fear and doubt, that the risky and fearless version of myself truly desires to see through. In a perfect world, I would be living from that place in every moment but because life is much more challenging than that ideal utopia implies, I am not always accessing that version of myself, and therefore it is sometimes ‘just’ an intention, and sometimes things straight up suck. I start almost every session by asking everyone what their dominant thought is, today specifically. Generally, this process connects us, because it’s ‘now’, it’s immediate, it isn’t an abstract thought floating around in the past or the future that no one is charged up about emotionally. I have heard a lot of artists and writers tell stories of distracted collaborators, uninvolved producers, leadership-less sessions, and never-ending projects. The feedback i am getting suggests that what sets our sessions apart is that ‘presence’, that involvement. That (on my good days) I am focused, keeping the momentum high, immersed, collaborative, good at managing the usual tensions that occur during typical session disagreements and keeping everything flowing. That is great to hear because I don’t get a lot of opportunity to see what other producers are doing in the last few years. It is hard to know where you stand and what sets you apart when you work in your own sort of, world so often.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This might be tricky for me to answer because generally when someone visits me in LA, I spend little time showing them LA, and more time taking them to the places that i love outside the city. I spend a lot of free time in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, and i find myself up there with all of my guests. But having said that, my favorite spots for food in LA are Flavor of India, Studio City Farmers Market, most sushi places, Jinya Ramen, Laurel Tavern, Cafe Habana Malibu, Salt & Straw, Side Car Donuts, Gjelina, and Burger Lounge,. Outside of my primary work, I have also worked for several years, part-time with Wolves at a Wolf & Wolf-Dog Sanctuary known as Wolf Connection. This is a place that I bring a lot of visitors to and is one of the most interesting experiences to be had in Socal. Some worthwhile mentions; The Drum circles that take place in Venice Beach on Sundays are always a good time for first-time visitors. Green Tea Pancakes at Bea Bea’s are nuts. Howlin Ray’s is a great eating experience for visitors.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wow, there are probably hundreds of people that deserve to be mentioned here. Information just seems to come from the mouth of and the examples set by every person I meet. There is no shortage of wisdom in people. But People that made huge lasting impacts; My family. Each one of them, whether deliberate or not, exposed me to a ton of music and art as a youngster and I absorbed a lot of it because each of them had a different taste. They easily could have cautioned me to do something “safer” and potentially meant to, but instead, observed me making my own decisions and just committed to offering support whenever life warranted encouragement or I need to be reminded of my potential. My early manager, his name I’ll keep private. He protected me from a lot of the distractions, the more “ominous” sides of this world I was being introduced to. He was somewhat of a father figure when I first moved out west, and because I have respect for him, he kept my head on straight. I feel now that, in this city, in particular, It was good for a young man to have someone around that he didn’t want to disappoint, and that helped me dial in what part of this whole process was really meant for me, and how I wanted to be involved. He created a safe environment for me to experiment, in a place where I knew no one, and so every shiny opportunity seemed worth the risk. He genuinely cared about me as an individual, so he never sent me down a road that he didn’t feel was good for me energetically, even if it had financial potential. He is a good man. I would love to use this opportunity to name a bunch of folks I’ve crossed paths with who have shared knowledge, stories, tips, moments, etc. Some individuals I’ve just had the privilege of watching them work, and it changed the rest of my life. So many times I was in sessions with other creators and had these huge moments of expansion, where I all of a sudden experienced some kind of information download about some element of the process that I simply did not understand just moments before. These inspired people are everywhere, and when you immerse yourself fully in these moment with them, you download what they know. Unfortunately, as a rule of thumb, I generally don’t drop names for any reason unless the topic is specifically relevant to an individual, or I’m currently working with them on a project. So, I will name a few really important people that I work with on a regular basis, who I have really grown with as a producer-writer and Video director on a fundamental and long-term level. They remind me every day via their example and our collaborations to be consistent, risky, diverse, resourceful, selective, smart, and to have fun with it. Brandon Brown, Sammy Plotkin, Nova Gholar, JJ Durand, Johannes Raassina. Jessica, my girlfriend, although not in the same line of work, is also a huge source of support and encouragement for me, and that in its own way gives me the permission to be my best. A few books that have really changed me: Aldo Leopold: A sand County Almanac. Dale Carnegie: How to win friends and influence people. John Bradshaw: Homecoming. Robert M. Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now. Jim & Jamie Dutcher: The Wisdom of Wolves. Dan Flores: American Serengeti.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/srprodllc/

Image Credits
Stephen Rivera

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