rIVerse Frontman Dizz on His Anti-Police Brutality Song, “Stand Up”

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Dizz, of the Toronto pop outfit rIVerse, doesn’t take injustice lying down. The group’s newest single, a response to police brutality and bystander inaction, is fittingly titled “Stand Up.”

Released on Juneteeth, the track and its accompanying video are a searing call to action in the current global fight against systemic racism. The track empowers listeners of all races to fight back against police violence, racial profiling and a corrupt system that targets black men, women, and children.

“Nobody deserves to have done to them what’s been happening to people of colour,” says songwriter Dizz. “At the foundation, this track is an anthem for basic human rights and justice for Black people. It’s a reminder of what our purpose is. We need to stand up and maybe our listeners will be influenced to do the same.”

Dizz wrote “stand Up” in 2018 to process his residual trauma at the police murders of Sandra Bland and Philando Castile, and was motivated to finally release the track this year following Ahmaud Aubery‘s murder.

rIVerse frontman Dizz
Dizz, lead singer of Toronto music group rIVerse (c) Joseph Hammond.

The video was shot on a chilly June night in Toronto’s famous Graffiti Alley, the first time the band had been together in months. The twin global pandemics of the Corona Virus and widespread police violence could not deter them from getting their message to the world.

“There had to be something done,” says Dizz. “I was enraged, I was very emotional. This has never really stopped. The only thing I could think of, being an artist, was that we had this song and it needed to come out now.”

Dizz, who has been out as gay since the age of 15, comes from Toronto music royalty; his father is Winston “Wire” Clark, a reggae musician whose West Indian grocery store served as an unofficial community centre for the immigrant population in the Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood in the 1970s. Dizz’ mother encouraged him to be involved in the black community from a young age too – as a child, he wrote and performed speeches about historical figures like Harriett Tubman and Marcus Garvey for Toronto audiences.

Dizz’ wrote his first song at the age of 8. An academic superstar, he did so well in school that his mother gave her blessing when he decided to take a break to pursue a career in the arts. He got his start as a dancer for Keisha Chante and received support from famous choreographer Luther Brown to start up the first version of rIVerse in 2012.”

“Stand Up” was born when Diz ran into producer Daniel Jones at Keisha Chante’s birthday party. Diz felt heavily inspired by Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” and Jones played a beat for him with the same energy. Canada is far from immune to the racism that plagues the US and the rest of the world; Dizz felt that the song needed to be heard.

“It was a strong feeling of purpose manifesting. It was a guttural instinct to do more with the song than just put it on the album, in many different ways it was a release, the writing, the recording, putting into video form.”

When Dizz isn’t working on rIVerse’s upcoming new album, you can find him in his room studying music across all genres or riding his bike. His two heroes are Issa Rae and Michaela Coel, though his favourite show ever is Xena: Warrior Princess, which suits a man who never backs down from challenges.

“I’ve loved her since I was a kid.”

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