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 yourfavorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It'snatal source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundredand ninety, out in proud since nineteen and ninety of the year I wasborn. 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'sheadlines our body positivity, ethnic representation, HIV awareness, where there's a groupof superheroes actually doing all of that, and we're talking with your fearless leadertoday. 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 timesfast. Critically acclaimed software album poison ivy, a deeply personal and ECLECTIC pop andR and B record that explores themes such as black lives matter, systematicracism, body positivities, self love and more. He recently came out asHIV positive in solidarity with National Black HIV AIDS awareness day and has since beenusing his platform to end the stigma around HIV and AIDS. Please welcome dayis I. Girl, you look so put together. The rest of usduring covid are like looking like you know, like I love to say, andhere you are like a like a beacon of light. Thank you somuch. 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 myeyes. So first starters. So I become obsessed with you when gettingto know your group. I just have to know. How did you getthis, a group of misfits together in the first place? How did Ibring 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 ofvarious groups growing up and it was always a goal of mine. So Istarted 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 theright people, but it wasn't until two thousand and eight when all of USaudition for a Toronto production of Disney's high school musical. To it was alife theater production where we all connected and I essentially just hand picked all ofthem. And here we are today, ten years later. I think overten. You're almost ten years later. Yeah, wow. Now, was it loveat first sight? Did you guys have some growing pains and starting towork together? Um, no, it was. It was love at firstsight. Definitely, and obviously as you progress and you work, you're workingto get us so closely you become family throughout so many years. Like ofcourse 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, butthe reason why we work is because we have such a deep respect for oneanother 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 outof 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'tbe more different from each other, like literally just could not. Like ifI was casting a show, I couldn't cast more different people. But thesound you have is such a unified front. Creatively, how do you work towardscombining 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 myhead. So I know exactly how to kind of marry the voices and marrythe personalities into a structured song or structured...

...situation, just based on my knowledgeof them and what their vocal stylings are, the tone of their voice and thingslike that. So I just know how to place it in a waythat is going to sonically be pleasing for the listener. Well, and inthe group, you know, everybody gets a highlight. There's really no roomfor ego, and that's what I really love about your group is that everybody'sa 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. Soinitially reverse, we spelt it the regular like dictionary spelling. Our ears andthat spoke to the IT speaks to the kind of again, sonically, whatreverse rings were very much fans of music from past eras, particularly the Sand early s. So when you stars to me, is like Judy Garlandand like s and S, here you are talking about, oh, theyall the old days now, please. I mean it's the truth, right. So we definitely take those kind of elements. I particularly with the vocalarrangements, 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 Iused to study where their vocal arrangements are harmonies really were a standout. Sowe will take out some of those elements from past errors and apply to whatwe do today. So you always feel it's kind of nostalgia when you listento 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 yearand once we decided to come back together, we went through a full rebrend andso a part of that was the name as well, and management anddifferent people that we used to work with would always tell us what makes agroup 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 webecame reverse. I I love that so much. But let's go back andlet'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 eachother's obstacles. So when you say that you guys broke up for ayear, what was the decision to break up? How is that year separateand then how did you guys kind of come back together? Yeah, sowe had broken up. Really it was a result of we were working withmanagement and once reverse, the group decided that we wanted to go for itall. We really were going to. We were going to uproot and moveto la like we were going for four goal please. Yeah, with youguys, it's gonna happen for us. It's going to Aden pandemic situation isyou know. But so we ended up. Sorry, while when we decided tomake those those choices, we were making some big decisions to really kindof maximize situation. The people that we were working with, we feel thatthey got a little bit fearful, and so they started to project their ownfears and insecurities on to us and a lot of the things that the reasonswhy they came into the first place. They loved the the fact that wewere this unconventional type of pop rb group. They love the image, they lovedeverything 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 kindof like there was a breaking down of the of the trust and the visionand things like that. And a lot of those when people are in yourear and telling you that you're not good enough or that this person should notbe in the group or this person's a star and this, it starts tomess with your head and it started to really mess with the foundation that thatis reverse the four of us, and we started to like not trust eachother as much. And so, long...

...story short, it just really brokedown our foundation and it became so talked to the point where we all fourof us, needed a separation to just not be in that energy anymore.And so, yeah, Long Story Short, we decided that we were going tosplit and in the year that we were broken up, myself and Kadisia, one of the other bandmates, band members, we decided to continue workingtogether and so we started working in another group and and yeah, that wejust wanted to keep going. We wanted to keep working and we did that. But then, I different points in time, Monroe would call and belike, are we sure that we're broken up? I think we're going toget back together. I'd be like, we've already started a new project andshe'd be like it's not over, mark my words, and I was likeokay, and she was right. But yeah, I different points in timewe had all kind of contacted each other and just kind of like really werelike, is this really over? And so towards the end of the year, I believe it was. I really it sounds Corny, but I hadlike this epiphany, like I was with a friend of mine and they wereplaying the out the glad to meet you album, reversus first album, andI was just like laying on a bed and just kind of like chilling outin 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 backtogether. We have unfinished business. And so it was this puzzle piecetype of situation where I had to let the guy that we were working within the other group know that we were going to stop. I had totalk to Kadesian find out if she was willing to leave the group that wejust put together and go back to reverse. I had to then talk to Zachand Monroe and see if they were still ready and willing to come backto reverse. It was a complicated situation, but here we are in two thousandand twenty one, and yeah, it needless to say, it workedout well. I'm glad you shared that because you know, sometimes, evenin our relationships, even our family Relationshi ships, sometimes we do have tostick take a step back, kind of refresh and come to it confident.You know, you guys put on a good show, like watching your musicvideos is so fun, but there's also this intimacy that you can't fake thatkind 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 andit's so great to see. So I'm kind of I'm really glad that youshared that kind of challenge because, you know, artists go through these kindsof ups and downs and it's important to take a break and not just dosomething because you think that you should, but until it feels right. SoI want to know you made a really bold move by coming out as HIVpositive. I I can't explain it why our gay men still so afraid totalk about HIV and AIDS, like it's in our community. What's what's what'sthe issue? Yeah, I can only speak based on on my experience andmaybe maybe kind of like what my journey has been in that space. Ifeel like it's just based on the knowledge that we received early on when HIVAIDS came into the picture, kind of on that big news scale. Itwas just it was loaded with a lot of darkness and fear, like peoplewere dying and there were there's just a a an idea of destruction, likeyour life will be over, like you are over, your life is over, you will lose your life, like they so I feel like the reasonwhy people are hesitant or fearful of speaking about it is because you don't wantto be associated with something that's connected to the idea of some of the darkestthings right. You don't want to have...

...that, that heaviness placed on youand there's a there's there's an idea that comes with that because it's connected tosex 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 conversationand the idea that you are dirty or you are just just broken when itcomes to speaking about HIV AIDS, and so I can understand why there isthat fear, there's that stigma, but it's one of those things. Iknow for me personally, when I receive my diagnosis in September fourteen of twothousand and twenty, my initial default was all of the things that that peoplewho are not educated about a v I was that guy as well. Iwas very fearful. I literally was like my life is over and I feltvery much like who I was at that time. I die like the manthat I was September fourteen, sorry, September thirteen. Two Thousand and twentyis 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 receivedliterally within the week of receiving my diagnosis that really immediately shifted my my frameof mind and my viewpoint and and on this situation and really just kind oflike beginning the actual steps on educating myself about what is this thing that's nowin my life. I realized that it is very much not what I grewup believing, which I'm very grateful and thankful for. You know, there'sa whole younger generation that obviously was not around for the AIDS epidemic and Covidobviously is not on the same scale, but we saw people around us gettingsick, we saw people around us dine, we saw misinformation from the government,we saw so many, you know, fake facts out there and it kindof 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 representationwe see on shows like pose, we're seeing some of these stories being toldin a conversational way and people should be having this conversation. You know,the younger generation. Thanks. Oh why could just pop a pill and thenit'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 asa gay man and then you had to come out as HIV positive. Soyou kind of like a double coming out. What was coming out the second timelike to your family? Um, oh, wow, so my Idon't think my family knows. I mean there's been wow, some press aboutit. But so, going back to when I came out at fourteen,when I let my family know that I was gay, most of my familybasically abandoned me. I am not in communication with really anybody in my familyother than my mother, and at one point even my mother I wasn't speakingwith, but it was only what was it like last year that I reallystarted to be in communication with my mother again? And there's just certain thingsmy 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 abouther religious journey, and so I choose to in order for me to havea 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 sadas that sounds, but I do want my mom to be in my lifein some way, shape or form. I know that she wants me inher 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 sheloves me, but it has to be that way, and so my momdoesn't really know about about these things. Yeah, just that that must behard because you're having so much success with the group and you're putting a messageout 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 ownfamily. You know what, it is so funny. In all honesty,it's not that difficult anymore. And again, simply because my joy and my peaceare they are. They sit very high on my list, on mypriorities. So that is more important to me, my happiness and being yeah, like I said, being at being at peace with my life and withmyself and with WHO I am, and I choose to surround myself with thosewho who love and respect me for for all of who I am, Gay, HIV positive, black, dark skinned, this, that, like all ofthat stuff, like fatrics actually being in my life. It has tobe all of that, and so my chosen family are that and they allknow and I'm I'm content with that. I love that message because it reallyis 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 loveyourself, how can you love anybody else? And I got to comein up here. Yeah, except for season thirteen, but we won't talkabout but it's really a great message that that you're sending out. I wantto talk about what are some of the realities of dating as an HIV positiveman? Like you said, your life is totally changed. How has thataffected 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 wasthe 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. Butwhen episode two, exactly, when I had had received my diagnosis, hewas the first person that I called and his first response to me. Iactually said to him, are you going to leave me in tears in aToronto subway station? He was like absolutely not, absolutely not. He waslike, I love you, is it? Please come to me now. SoI went over to his place and and saw him and he just embracedme and he saw that I was distraught and I was in trsy say you'rebeautiful, I love you. Nothing change, nothing's going to change. We're goingto get through this together. So he was really the first kind ofangel in my life, a gem that really shifted my energy. Like Iwas still very much going through the process of the grieving of what this situationwas. However, with him it was a light Bob. I was aoh, 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 yourlife, like with the Toronto subway and like the phone call, andI just see it all. It's just gonna have like a single about itall right. So tell me about the latest release, Poison Ivy. Youhave said that the album is all about truth. What does that mean?So reverse his first album. Glad to meet you. Two point all availableon 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 wantedto do coming out the gate was to have a good time. So themusic was very field, is very feel good and has a very kind oflike s pop, in some cases a little bit of a bubble gum feel. So we were very fresh, the bubble gum kids. Yeah, havinga 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 intwo thousand and fourteen. So Poison Ivy was released just at the end oflast year, literally December thirty one, two thousand and twenty we release albumthrough it was many, many years in between. So in terms of poisonivy now, the journey of that album is very much sorry. We decidedto really take another approach with this album. Through all those years, there wereso 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 werewe were ready to just be open and vulnerable and just kind of like putourselves fully into the music. So when we talk about poison, I bebeing an album of truth. It literally is our stories, my story,the stories of Zach, D Jim And rowe that we we would discuss whenwe would be on the road, going to a show or or anything wherewe were together. We would always be talking. We always talked about whateach other is going through, and so I would just like grab onto certainlittle tidbits and say, I'm going to put that in a song. Whento write her story in this song, where I'm going to create the storyaround his story, and that's pretty much what it is. So it's literallyour truth in the songs. Walk Way through a rehearsal night, like youguys are getting together. Is it like coffee and donuts? First you getin a circle and like light a candle, like what to rehearsal? Like rehearsals. Okay, we so ushoually tall. Talk to you about the rehearses thatwe're doing right now because we have a virtual concert, the poison ivyvirtual 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, andso, basically, I usually get a ride from Zack. Zack comes andpicks me up and is BMW. We drive up to the rehearsal. Okay, fancy he fantasy the bands. Yeah, I know that girl. He's thatgirl. So so he'll pick me up. Will be will be listento 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 thatwe love, and then we go up there and we just get right towork, 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 inand we get right to work. Like we just start sweating from within thefirst hour of rehearsal. So who kind of has to be the bad copif 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 fourof us. Like we've been so blessed now to have a lot of peoplewho really believe in the project, who have come on board and like reallyare like I believe in this, I'm going to invest my time and Energyand 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, Iand just kind of really spearheading this ship. And as we went on throughout theyears, like other reverse members would start to like take a bit ofmore of a role. When it comes to your question there, so Kadisiais 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 oneto 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 withsome of the biggest names out there, who's been really the one to dothat 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. Munroewill definitely make notes on vocal so if we're singing and she'll tell you basicallyyou're breathing properly, maybe place your voice...

...here and so we tried in hereand 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 uppeople 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. Ifyou 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 profoundconnections with other human beings. So we really want people to take to takestrength in knowing that your truth, your individual truth, whatever that may be, are your greatest assets. I have to tell you know, I wrotethe article from Metro Sourcecom and the first word that sprang to me was asuperhero. So it's funny that you say is your super power, because Iwas like these are modern day superheroes, like this is your power, andit was like it was like I loved writing the article because it was justso fun. You know, you just have to press play and when everymusic videos and whoever you are, you're just sold in the first seconds oflistening. Oh My, and now, honestly, yeah, I'm I justreally, really quick. That article was beautiful, like it literally had astearing 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 guysbetter and you know and and and chat with you. So how is didthe person most different from DIS on camera? Honestly, and I what you seeis what you get. I'm the same that that. That's one thingthat that reverse. We talked about off door or a lot of our fanswill will make comments about that. Like they'll see us on our reverse reactstheories on Youtube, or they'll see us on our our instagram stories or thesee us in very candid rehearsal videos. And then, like, you guysare the same. You're same, the same when you're on the couch doingthose youtube videos. You're the same as when we see you in those behindthe scenes videos when you guys are working. Like we very much are just ourselves, right, and we are a lot. We can be a lotthat and I know that I'm a lot and it's like me times times forso it's very much who we are. We just we just are ourselves reallyall the time. You know, and I said it before, you knowit's a chemistry and there's an intimacy there, even though you guys are putting ona 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 theworld and be unapologetically and fearlessly you, because there is nobody else in thisworld that is that is you. You are unique, you are beautiful,you are worthy, you are valued, you are loved and all of whoyou are is necessarily needed in this world. I I love your message, Ilove your energy, I just love you. Guys. You can't getto La Sooner. Like we are going to hang out. I'm going tobe front row, clapping front and saying are going to happen, I promiseyou. All Right, tell our audience where you want them to find youand follow you. You can find reverse on all social media platforms at reverselive, are IV erse live. Oh God, I love it. Ilove it. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I couldtalk to you for hours and we're going to do that open relationship as likea follow up part. Let's do it. I'm here, I'm open. Thankyou. Thank you so much. That has been my chat with isfrom reverse. You can read my indepth interview with the whole group at MetroSourtscom 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 onuntil next time, stay true and do you bow? That has been anothermetro source mini like, share and subscribe on your favorite podcast player and checkout 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 Metrosportsmen. Until next time, they fast.

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