Dizz from Singing Group rIVerse

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dizz is the founder and lead songwriter/choreographer for Canadian musicgroup, rIVerse. rIVerse recently released their music video for "BaeBeeBoo" off their critically acclaimed sophomore album "Poison IV', a deeply personal and eclectic pop and R&B record that explores themes such as Black Lives Matter, systemic racism, body positivity, self-love and more. Dizz recently came out as HIV Positive in solidarity with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and has since been using his platform to end the stigma around HIV and AIDS. 

On this episode, we chat with Dizz about the behind the scenes of the singing group, coming out as HIV positive in the modern world, and the importance of self love...we also put it out in the world that Beyonce should play Dizz in the movie version of rIVerse...c'mon Bey!  

Hosted by Alexander Rodriguez 

This is metro source. Minis, the official podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It's natal source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundred and ninety, out in proud since nineteen and ninety of the year I was born. Off Cough Sa Metro sports minis. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, lead writer from Metro source and avid podcast. So hot topics in today's headlines our body positivity, ethnic representation, HIV awareness, where there's a group of superheroes actually doing all of that, and we're talking with your fearless leader today. Diz Is the founder of and lead songwriter choreographer Canadian music group reverse. Reverse recently release their music video for baby boo. Say That three times fast. Critically acclaimed software album poison ivy, a deeply personal and ECLECTIC pop and R and B record that explores themes such as black lives matter, systematic racism, body positivities, self love and more. He recently came out as HIV positive in solidarity with National Black HIV AIDS awareness day and has since been using his platform to end the stigma around HIV and AIDS. Please welcome day is I. Girl, you look so put together. The rest of us during covid are like looking like you know, like I love to say, and here you are like a like a beacon of light. Thank you so much. Thank you. Okay, so to let's not get it twisted. That suit jacket is on point, girl, it's too hide the bags under my eyes. So first starters. So I become obsessed with you when getting to know your group. I just have to know. How did you get this, a group of misfits together in the first place? How did I bring these fools together? I'm getting Um. So, basically, I've been. It's always been a dream of mine to be a part of a group, specifically when it comes to music. I've just been such a fan of various groups growing up and it was always a goal of mine. So I started putting group together when I was fourteen years old. I worked with many, many people along the way with it's been a journey trying to find the right people, but it wasn't until two thousand and eight when all of US audition for a Toronto production of Disney's high school musical. To it was a life theater production where we all connected and I essentially just hand picked all of them. And here we are today, ten years later. I think overten. You're almost ten years later. Yeah, wow. Now, was it love at first sight? Did you guys have some growing pains and starting to work together? Um, no, it was. It was love at first sight. Definitely, and obviously as you progress and you work, you're working to get us so closely you become family throughout so many years. Like of course you're going to have your challenges, you're going to have your disagreements, you're going to have, you know, those kind of rocky moments, but the reason why we work is because we have such a deep respect for one another and what each of us brings and just really who we are as people. And so we go through our our moments, but we always come out of it stronger just because of the look that we have for one another. Well, I have to say, looking at you guys and the personalities couldn't be more different from each other, like literally just could not. Like if I was casting a show, I couldn't cast more different people. But the sound you have is such a unified front. Creatively, how do you work towards combining everyone's unique personality with a cohesive product? You know what it is? When I'm writing the songs, it is really I hear them in my head. So I know exactly how to kind of marry the voices and marry the personalities into a structured song or structured...

...situation, just based on my knowledge of them and what their vocal stylings are, the tone of their voice and things like that. So I just know how to place it in a way that is going to sonically be pleasing for the listener. Well, and in the group, you know, everybody gets a highlight. There's really no room for ego, and that's what I really love about your group is that everybody's a star, but nobody's a start. Do you know what I mean? It's the group together that really tells it. But explain the name to me. So it has Roman numerals, you know. Yeah, are ivy verse. Yeah, verse. That's not a word we often saying with Hollywood verse. But so explain to me the structure of the name. Reverse. So initially reverse, we spelt it the regular like dictionary spelling. Our ears and that spoke to the IT speaks to the kind of again, sonically, what reverse rings were very much fans of music from past eras, particularly the S and early s. So when you stars to me, is like Judy Garland and like s and S, here you are talking about, oh, they all the old days now, please. I mean it's the truth, right. So we definitely take those kind of elements. I particularly with the vocal arrangements, the harmonies. What the groups like destiny's child or the backsheet boys, in sync, drew hill, there's there's a lot of groups that I used to study where their vocal arrangements are harmonies really were a standout. So we will take out some of those elements from past errors and apply to what we do today. So you always feel it's kind of nostalgia when you listen to reverse. So it's like going to reverse and grabbing those elements, right. But we had broken up in two thousand and sixteen for about a year and once we decided to come back together, we went through a full rebrend and so a part of that was the name as well, and management and different people that we used to work with would always tell us what makes a group special is a four of us. So we wanted to highlight that. So we swapped out the E and put in an eye, and then we became reverse. I I love that so much. But let's go back and let's spill the tea a little bit. You know, we always talked about, you know, everybody's best put forward, but we also should learn from each other's obstacles. So when you say that you guys broke up for a year, what was the decision to break up? How is that year separate and then how did you guys kind of come back together? Yeah, so we had broken up. Really it was a result of we were working with management and once reverse, the group decided that we wanted to go for it all. We really were going to. We were going to uproot and move to la like we were going for four goal please. Yeah, with you guys, it's gonna happen for us. It's going to Aden pandemic situation is you know. But so we ended up. Sorry, while when we decided to make those those choices, we were making some big decisions to really kind of maximize situation. The people that we were working with, we feel that they got a little bit fearful, and so they started to project their own fears and insecurities on to us and a lot of the things that the reasons why they came into the first place. They loved the the fact that we were this unconventional type of pop rb group. They love the image, they loved everything about it. But then that change once the fear set it in. So they started to kind of nitpick about a different members and just kind of like there was a breaking down of the of the trust and the vision and things like that. And a lot of those when people are in your ear and telling you that you're not good enough or that this person should not be in the group or this person's a star and this, it starts to mess with your head and it started to really mess with the foundation that that is reverse the four of us, and we started to like not trust each other as much. And so, long...

...story short, it just really broke down our foundation and it became so talked to the point where we all four of us, needed a separation to just not be in that energy anymore. And so, yeah, Long Story Short, we decided that we were going to split and in the year that we were broken up, myself and Kadisia, one of the other bandmates, band members, we decided to continue working together and so we started working in another group and and yeah, that we just wanted to keep going. We wanted to keep working and we did that. But then, I different points in time, Monroe would call and be like, are we sure that we're broken up? I think we're going to get back together. I'd be like, we've already started a new project and she'd be like it's not over, mark my words, and I was like okay, and she was right. But yeah, I different points in time we had all kind of contacted each other and just kind of like really were like, is this really over? And so towards the end of the year, I believe it was. I really it sounds Corny, but I had like this epiphany, like I was with a friend of mine and they were playing the out the glad to meet you album, reversus first album, and I was just like laying on a bed and just kind of like chilling out in the Sun was beaming in my eyes and this is the music was playing. I was like this is so good. I have to put this group back together. We have unfinished business. And so it was this puzzle piece type of situation where I had to let the guy that we were working with in the other group know that we were going to stop. I had to talk to Kadesian find out if she was willing to leave the group that we just put together and go back to reverse. I had to then talk to Zach and Monroe and see if they were still ready and willing to come back to reverse. It was a complicated situation, but here we are in two thousand and twenty one, and yeah, it needless to say, it worked out well. I'm glad you shared that because you know, sometimes, even in our relationships, even our family Relationshi ships, sometimes we do have to stick take a step back, kind of refresh and come to it confident. You know, you guys put on a good show, like watching your music videos is so fun, but there's also this intimacy that you can't fake that kind of confidence. You can't fake that chemistry because it's going to come through. So if you guys were not feeling it, then you weren't feeling it. Yeah, and the fact that you waited for it to be right. I mean you can. The chemistry is just palpable and it's just infectious and it's so great to see. So I'm kind of I'm really glad that you shared that kind of challenge because, you know, artists go through these kinds of ups and downs and it's important to take a break and not just do something because you think that you should, but until it feels right. So I want to know you made a really bold move by coming out as HIV positive. I I can't explain it why our gay men still so afraid to talk about HIV and AIDS, like it's in our community. What's what's what's the issue? Yeah, I can only speak based on on my experience and maybe maybe kind of like what my journey has been in that space. I feel like it's just based on the knowledge that we received early on when HIV AIDS came into the picture, kind of on that big news scale. It was just it was loaded with a lot of darkness and fear, like people were dying and there were there's just a a an idea of destruction, like your life will be over, like you are over, your life is over, you will lose your life, like they so I feel like the reason why people are hesitant or fearful of speaking about it is because you don't want to be associated with something that's connected to the idea of some of the darkest things right. You don't want to have...

...that, that heaviness placed on you and there's a there's there's an idea that comes with that because it's connected to sex it I think it's such a deep rooted issue. That's religion involved, there's People's ideologies, there's so much, there's so much heaviness in that conversation and the idea that you are dirty or you are just just broken when it comes to speaking about HIV AIDS, and so I can understand why there is that fear, there's that stigma, but it's one of those things. I know for me personally, when I receive my diagnosis in September fourteen of two thousand and twenty, my initial default was all of the things that that people who are not educated about a v I was that guy as well. I was very fearful. I literally was like my life is over and I felt very much like who I was at that time. I die like the man that I was September fourteen, sorry, September thirteen. Two Thousand and twenty is a very different person than the one that received the diagnosis on the fourteen, and it wasn't. It was only because of the interactions that I received literally within the week of receiving my diagnosis that really immediately shifted my my frame of mind and my viewpoint and and on this situation and really just kind of like beginning the actual steps on educating myself about what is this thing that's now in my life. I realized that it is very much not what I grew up believing, which I'm very grateful and thankful for. You know, there's a whole younger generation that obviously was not around for the AIDS epidemic and Covid obviously is not on the same scale, but we saw people around us getting sick, we saw people around us dine, we saw misinformation from the government, we saw so many, you know, fake facts out there and it kind of was a remembrance of where our community has come from, you know. And it's about education and it's about communication and I think the more representation we see on shows like pose, we're seeing some of these stories being told in a conversational way and people should be having this conversation. You know, the younger generation. Thanks. Oh why could just pop a pill and then it's fine. You know, there's there's many aspects to be NIG HIV positive. Now you kind of had a duel coming out because you came out as a gay man and then you had to come out as HIV positive. So you kind of like a double coming out. What was coming out the second time like to your family? Um, oh, wow, so my I don't think my family knows. I mean there's been wow, some press about it. But so, going back to when I came out at fourteen, when I let my family know that I was gay, most of my family basically abandoned me. I am not in communication with really anybody in my family other than my mother, and at one point even my mother I wasn't speaking with, but it was only what was it like last year that I really started to be in communication with my mother again? And there's just certain things my peace and my joy are are. I hold those in very high regard. And unfortunately, my mother's very she's very religious, she's very much about her religious journey, and so I choose to in order for me to have a relationship with my mom, it has to come with Sir and boundaries, and so I don't speak to my mom about my personal life, as sad as that sounds, but I do want my mom to be in my life in some way, shape or form. I know that she wants me in her life and so we kind of keep it at a certain surface level. She knows that I love her with all...

...my heart and I know that she loves me, but it has to be that way, and so my mom doesn't really know about about these things. Yeah, just that that must be hard because you're having so much success with the group and you're putting a message out there and you're being a role model for so many different people out there. So it must be really difficult that you can't share that with your own family. You know what, it is so funny. In all honesty, it's not that difficult anymore. And again, simply because my joy and my peace are they are. They sit very high on my list, on my priorities. So that is more important to me, my happiness and being yeah, like I said, being at being at peace with my life and with myself and with WHO I am, and I choose to surround myself with those who who love and respect me for for all of who I am, Gay, HIV positive, black, dark skinned, this, that, like all of that stuff, like fatrics actually being in my life. It has to be all of that, and so my chosen family are that and they all know and I'm I'm content with that. I love that message because it really is putting importance on you and your life and what you're doing above the rest. And you know Rue Paul's as it. You know, if you don't love yourself, how can you love anybody else? And I got to come in up here. Yeah, except for season thirteen, but we won't talk about but it's really a great message that that you're sending out. I want to talk about what are some of the realities of dating as an HIV positive man? Like you said, your life is totally changed. How has that affected your dating life? Well, I am with a partner of two years, so I'm not necessarily dating around. But the beautiful thing is he was the first person that I told. So him and I are in open relationship, and so worry me. I mean I mean to be honest with you. I mean it's open, but not really like we are very much. We're basically monogamous, but we anyway. That's a whole other conversation. But when episode two, exactly, when I had had received my diagnosis, he was the first person that I called and his first response to me. I actually said to him, are you going to leave me in tears in a Toronto subway station? He was like absolutely not, absolutely not. He was like, I love you, is it? Please come to me now. So I went over to his place and and saw him and he just embraced me and he saw that I was distraught and I was in trsy say you're beautiful, I love you. Nothing change, nothing's going to change. We're going to get through this together. So he was really the first kind of angel in my life, a gem that really shifted my energy. Like I was still very much going through the process of the grieving of what this situation was. However, with him it was a light Bob. I was a oh, wait a minute, I'm going to be okay, you know. So it was a beautiful thing. Your Life is like like a lifetime movie, like beyonce is going to play you, and like the movie version of your life, like with the Toronto subway and like the phone call, and I just see it all. It's just gonna have like a single about it all right. So tell me about the latest release, Poison Ivy. You have said that the album is all about truth. What does that mean? So reverse his first album. Glad to meet you. Two point all available on spotify and I'll streaming platforms. The first album was very like it was. It was our dis US discovering ourselves and we knew that what we wanted to do coming out the gate was to have a good time. So the music was very field, is very feel good and has a very kind of like s pop, in some cases a little bit of a bubble gum feel. So we were very fresh, the bubble gum kids. Yeah, having a great time time and and that album...

...was really actually recorded in twenty. We started the process in two thousand and twelve. We really see album in two thousand and fourteen. So Poison Ivy was released just at the end of last year, literally December thirty one, two thousand and twenty we release album through it was many, many years in between. So in terms of poison ivy now, the journey of that album is very much sorry. We decided to really take another approach with this album. Through all those years, there were so much that we had gone through both individually and as a group, and once we got back together it was okay, girl, like we're grown, like it's time for us to talk about some real things. We were we were ready to just be open and vulnerable and just kind of like put ourselves fully into the music. So when we talk about poison, I be being an album of truth. It literally is our stories, my story, the stories of Zach, D Jim And rowe that we we would discuss when we would be on the road, going to a show or or anything where we were together. We would always be talking. We always talked about what each other is going through, and so I would just like grab onto certain little tidbits and say, I'm going to put that in a song. When to write her story in this song, where I'm going to create the story around his story, and that's pretty much what it is. So it's literally our truth in the songs. Walk Way through a rehearsal night, like you guys are getting together. Is it like coffee and donuts? First you get in a circle and like light a candle, like what to rehearsal? Like rehearsals. Okay, we so ushoually tall. Talk to you about the rehearses that we're doing right now because we have a virtual concert, the poison ivy virtual concert, that's going to be premiering may twenty two thousand and twenty one. We are so excited about it. We're in rehearsals right now, and so, basically, I usually get a ride from Zack. Zack comes and picks me up and is BMW. We drive up to the rehearsal. Okay, fancy he fantasy the bands. Yeah, I know that girl. He's that girl. So so he'll pick me up. Will be will be listen to like tons of like s tunes or like music that really gets excited, like the last her so we releasing like Brittany and the sink and backstreet boys, and it's hernal and we were like this, having a great time, and so we drive out to rehearsal and get amped from listening to music that we love, and then we go up there and we just get right to work, like we start get our work out and are stretching and everything that. that. Are Warm up and dancers will come in, we'll say hi, we'll have a little Kiki kike and then there the care for comes in and we get right to work. Like we just start sweating from within the first hour of rehearsal. So who kind of has to be the bad cop if somebody's not hitting their notes, if somebody's just not giving it? Like, is that you that kind of has to be, like, okay, you know what that used to be, that you to be mostly mean, because reverse, in our early years, it was very much just the four of us. Like we've been so blessed now to have a lot of people who really believe in the project, who have come on board and like really are like I believe in this, I'm going to invest my time and Energy and and my talents into building this and making it as great as a Cam. But very much in the beginning I was choreographing all the routines, I and just kind of really spearheading this ship. And as we went on throughout the years, like other reverse members would start to like take a bit of more of a role. When it comes to your question there, so Kadisia is one who would really kind of come in and clean up the routines. So once I'd create the routine next for her, so she be the one to actually clean it. Amagure that everybody's doing what they need to do. Nowadays we have a fantastic choreographer, nickname Leon blackhood, who has worked with some of the biggest names out there, who's been really the one to do that for us. But even with that reverse still we were such perfectionist. So KDESIA will still come in and do the cleanups with the choreography. Munroe will definitely make notes on vocal so if we're singing and she'll tell you basically you're breathing properly, maybe place your voice...

...here and so we tried in here and there to really make sure that all of us are on points. Now, what do you want people to walk away from listening to Poison Ivy? What do you want them to walk away with? The most we want up people to walk away with after listening to poison ivy knowing that, again, your truth and authenticity are your greatest weapons, like those are super powers. If you can just be willing to be vulnerable and open and share your truth, that is where you will be able to make the deepest and most profound connections with other human beings. So we really want people to take to take strength in knowing that your truth, your individual truth, whatever that may be, are your greatest assets. I have to tell you know, I wrote the article from Metro Sourcecom and the first word that sprang to me was a superhero. So it's funny that you say is your super power, because I was like these are modern day superheroes, like this is your power, and it was like it was like I loved writing the article because it was just so fun. You know, you just have to press play and when every music videos and whoever you are, you're just sold in the first seconds of listening. Oh My, and now, honestly, yeah, I'm I just really, really quick. That article was beautiful, like it literally had as tearing up. Like we we sometimes go back and read reread the art, that one in particular, just to kind of hear your perspective on the situation. It was very encouraging and thank you so much for that wonderful article. Well, it was. It was an honor to get to know you guys better and you know and and and chat with you. So how is did the person most different from DIS on camera? Honestly, and I what you see is what you get. I'm the same that that. That's one thing that that reverse. We talked about off door or a lot of our fans will will make comments about that. Like they'll see us on our reverse reacts theories on Youtube, or they'll see us on our our instagram stories or the see us in very candid rehearsal videos. And then, like, you guys are the same. You're same, the same when you're on the couch doing those youtube videos. You're the same as when we see you in those behind the scenes videos when you guys are working. Like we very much are just ourselves, right, and we are a lot. We can be a lot that and I know that I'm a lot and it's like me times times for so it's very much who we are. We just we just are ourselves really all the time. You know, and I said it before, you know it's a chemistry and there's an intimacy there, even though you guys are putting on a big show, there's an intimacy that you just can't fake that, and so I'm not surprised to hear that. Okay, this one's for social media, yea. What is your pride message this year to your fans? What is our pride message this year to our fans? Go Out in the world and be unapologetically and fearlessly you, because there is nobody else in this world that is that is you. You are unique, you are beautiful, you are worthy, you are valued, you are loved and all of who you are is necessarily needed in this world. I I love your message, I love your energy, I just love you. Guys. You can't get to La Sooner. Like we are going to hang out. I'm going to be front row, clapping front and saying are going to happen, I promise you. All Right, tell our audience where you want them to find you and follow you. You can find reverse on all social media platforms at reverse live, are IV erse live. Oh God, I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I could talk to you for hours and we're going to do that open relationship as like a follow up part. Let's do it. I'm here, I'm open. Thank you. Thank you so much. That has been my chat with is from reverse. You can read my indepth interview with the whole group at Metro Sourtscom and that's our episode. I'm your...

...host, lead writer for Metro Sours, Alexander Rodriguez. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexanders on air on until next time, stay true and do you bow? That has been another metro source mini like, share and subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Sports magazine on newstands or online at Metro sourcescom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at natural source and on twitter at Metro sportsmen. Until next time, they fast.

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