"Playing live on the streets, the feedback of the audience is the most honest feedback you can get."

They grew up on the streets. That's where they learned how to perform music, to be spontaneous and relaxed. Meet Riders Connection from Berlin, Germany, bringing together a special blend of reggae, folk, and soul without ever using any drum kit.

We spoke with the band about the value of playing live on the streets, their favourite artists and leading an analogue life.

A journey through the hearts
We talk to Riders Connection as they release a brand new single and sit in a 'comfortable' eight-seater van, "staring at the highway while eating some good takeaway food," as they put it.

They've built a loyal fan base around the world and have toured countries like Germany, Switzerland and South Africa. Yet, they never forget their origins on the streets:

"Playing live on the streets, the feedback of the audience is the most honest feedback you can get. It's our roots, which we keep on holding on to. We see too many artists lose connection with their musical roots once they start getting more popular. And to us, the streets are the best kind of performance in order to keep us grounded," says Moritz Eickworth, Riders Connection's beatboxer who creates all the band's percussion sounds using only his mouth.

It comes from the heart
Along with bass player Alexsej Solod and vocalist and mouth trumpet Phillip Ressel, he forms the world of Riders Connection. And they're not keen to peg their music into one genre:

"To us, it's a polystylistic mix of different influences. It comes from the heart and goes into the heart," Moritz explains.

Since they always seem to have difficulties describing their own music, we let a personal friend of theirs have a go:

"A good word to describe your music would be disparate. That means it's different and not comparable. Your music is a mash-up of various influences, of genres that come across as easy moves and easy grooves. It reaches out to people who are one foot tall all the way through to the ones who have to bob their heads as they are unable to resist the beat while they sit in their seat."

Well, that's one way to describe it. Riders Connection just released their new single, so why not try listening here for yourself and form your own impression of the song Colour Me:

"As with several of our songs, the origin is an unfulfilled love. Whenever you are sad or down, you can change it by letting some colours into your life," the band says.

It's nice until the police arrive
Riders Connection's music doesn't sound particularly German, but rather international. And inspiration does come across from many different sources, styles and places without geographic boundaries. And again, not least the streets:

"Our music mostly derives from improvisations and jams on the street, on the beach, in our living rooms or at parties. We find worlds of creativity in bands and artists such as Bob Marley, Gentleman, 5Nizza, Nirvana, Sublime, old-school hip-hop, The Whitest Boy Alive, Bukahara, Louis Armstrong, Bach, and many, many more," Moritz explains.

He mentions Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder as one of the band's all-time top three favourite songs. Riders Connection already did a cover of it with the befriended band, Noah's Boat. Performed with two basses, two guitars, drums, beatbox, percussion, sax and three voices, it sounded massive," according to Moritz.

My Name by the aforementioned Bukahara, is another favourite. Vocalist Phillip Ressel occasionally even does a version for himself to enjoy great songwriting. Also, a track such as Ain't Nobody by Chaka Khan is a joy in the world of Riders Connection.

Their perception of good music and good sound is equally closely associated with the acoustic strengths of live performances:

"Since we have no acoustic drum, the sound on stage is crucial. We need a clear and powerful monitor sound to be able to perform. Whereas on the street we use our setup with car batteries. Which is nice until the police arrive," Moritz jokes.

The analogue way of life
"We are aware of the possibilities of the digital world. And we use it as much as needed. However, we don't have the time to find ourselves through the masses of information. We have a more analogue way of life. We go on tour and sell our music on CDs directly to the people. With a personal message and a smile," he says and speaks highly of the principle of crowdfunding:

"In our opinion, crowdfunding is a good thing. It should also be used not only to finance artists' careers but all creative directions which are not financed by politics or people in power. Let's crowdfund a better world for everybody!"

Riders Connection are musical children of the streets. They intend to keep writing and performing music based on these roots as a journey through life and music:

A journey through the hearts of people
"We want to release our albums to share our music with the world. Hopefully, it helps us to play in places we have never played before. To us, music is a kind of ticket to see the world. It's a journey through the hearts of people and places," Moritz says, concluding:

"We don't want too much. Since we're happy when we can play without financial pressure so that we one day will be able to feed our families by doing something we really love. We want to be able to grow and develop our music in a sustainable way."

Discover more at www.ridersconnectionmusic.com

- Rune H. Jensen, rhj@dali.dk


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