ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Riotnine

Photo by Evan Marsalli.

There’s a new DIY venue in town called the Litehouse – named because it’s Diet Lite’s house. They had their inaugural show this weekend featuring Milwaukee bands Garden Home, Riotnine, Bug Moment and Madison’s Excuse Me, Who Are You? plus local art vendors. Folks filled the place out for one hell of a first event.

Riotnine consists of core members Cleo Jackowick on guitar and Diana Calderon on vocals; they don’t have a permanent bassist or drummer yet but Saturday’s show was with Dean Mackenzie of Glowingtide on bass and Ian Dutter of Geology Club on drums. “I think Ian’s going to become a more stable member of the band,” Jackowick said. “I write the drum and bass parts and Diana does all the lyrics.”

The band identifies with the Midwest emo movement while incorporating elements of post-hardcore and screamo into their sound. That said, the original concept for the band was very different. “Cleo got me into 100 Gecs, and for a while we wanted to be a hyperpop band,” Calderon explained. “But then that wave passed.”

Jackowick added, “It’s way harder to make electronic music than you’d think. We’re just not built for it. Every time we’d write an electronic song, it’d just sound like we were playing electronic guitars. We come from a rock background and after a certain point we decided we wanted to make something we were good at. We wrote the song “No One Wants Pain” which would mix Midwest emo, post-hardcore and screamo together.”

“I actually spent like three months learning how to scream,” Calderon said. “I’m still not totally there but I’m trying so hard to get better because the energy that we find when we’re writing is something that I want to come across on stage. Personally, I’ve always been into bands that can’t capture their sound in the studio, and that energy is what carried us forward with finding our sound.”

The band is still relatively fresh; their first show was back in July at Madison’s EmoFest followed by a show the next day at Milwaukee DIY venue Ivy’s Attic. Currently they’re focusing on writing while not putting themselves in a box as well as finding the right lineup. “We’re writing stuff that’s not even emo now,” Calderon said. “We’re writing stuff that’s more punk and hardcore. We’re going into different avenues and that might turn into different releases that all sound different.”

“It’s all just angry, sad, high-energy, emotional music,” Jackowick said. “You can call it whatever you want.”

On their lyrics, Calderon shared, “I’ve been writing poems about different things that I’m thinking about. A lot of times I’ll be driving and thinking about some complex idea…for the longest time I had this idea about a king whose crown is a ring…like he’s just putting a ring on his head and calling himself a ruler. “No One Wants Pain” is the only one where I sat down and tried to write words – and I think I did, in that refrain.”

Riotnine have more shows in October in the works – stay tuned!

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