Who are the band members and what do they play?
I would call us a “band” per se, more of a group, or as we like to brand ourselves…The Collective . As of right now, there are five of us. But to be honest, there isn’t a specific number of members in ACES’ RIDDLE, it keeps growing. Okay so here, there were three original founders of the Collective, Ari Riddell (our writer), DeLaura (our lead singer) and Carter (visionary?) — I joined later as the back up vocalist…HI! I’m Angela – and now they’ve put me in charge of “management” of the Collective, so I basically set up our meets, recording sessions, take care of the website, and now press (maybe, hopefully social media presence in the future). Carter, is Carter…he usually just sits that and looks pretty, also puts together our artwork, and every once in a while, he pitches out really great ideas — only when he’s baked out of his mind though. The newest member of ACES’ RIDDLE, our audio engineer, Scarlett — we REALLY needed one, you can tell just by listening to our older tracks on SoundCloud…also, the group was turning into a sausage fest, so thank god for her! And that’s basically the skeleton of the Collective — but Ari’s always on the lookout for talented individuals at our Uni (Carleton University) and so you never know, we might grow even larger, I mean in 3 months we went from two people to FIVE! And given the nature of our Collective, you never know who worked on which song at what point of time – and that’s something they told us before joining, there are no credits here, everything is ACES’ RIDDLE. I personally don’t get why everything needs to be so hush-hush, or why both Ari and DeLaura are so adamant on keeping everything on the down low. Especially with this EP…I mean we got so many plays out of the blue and you just kinda wanna scream it out, share it with everyone you know, but I guess we’re not allowed. Like it’s weird, sometimes I feel like we’re in a weird cult, deadass, not gonna lie. I don’t get all the secrecy behind recording sessions, or the no photos thing they got going on – they even make us turn off our phones and put them in our bags before we enter the makeshift studio they’ve got going on in their dorm — it’s like a dark, grungy mattress fort.
How and where did you get together?
DeLaura and Ari started the Collective in Toronto – then moved to Ottawa for school, and they basically recruited the rest of us at random parties or bars Ollie’s (campus bar)… like no one joined ACES’ RIDDLE sober we all just woke up one day and were like, “okay, guess we’re doing this thing.” Which is basically the only thing we all have in common. We’re all so different in every way possible, our attitudes, what we like, how we spend our time and even our taste in music — But that’s also what brings us all together, that love and passion we have for music…even though none of us listens to the same genre.
What are the Collective’s main influences?
Good music. Genre, labels or names don’t matter — we all appreciate good music…to us, if a track is good, then it’s good, you know? Like even if we don’t vibe with it, we can understand that it’s well done, and again, that’s what strengthens our Collective, the clash of personal opinions regarding favourites, the mix that comes out of that chaos is something truly unique. — And so we can’t single out anyone and label them as our main influence, not by a long shot – here, imagine a huge blender, put in Lady Gaga, MJ, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd, Britney Spears, Travis Scott, WHAM!, Lil Nas X, Madonna, So Faygo, Justin Timberlake, Polo G, blend ‘em all up [sorry for the gross picture ] pour the mixture out onto a baking sheet, put it in the over at 10000000 degrees, bake until golden-BURNT, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a batch of freshly baked ACES’ RIDDLE.
Have you played any notable gigs, festivals or other events? Likewise radio or TV appearances?
Well no, not yet at least…we are in the very early stages of our career, we obviously haven’t landed any of sort notable events — however, we have performed at a couple super low-key underground speakeasy-ish type of deal, once in Toronto, and twice Montreal, which were pretty sketchy, but had a hipster feel to them…I don’t know, Ari just knows people…hence Underground AF I guess — and I could tell this was Ari’s type of crowd, they TOOK OUR PHONES! And the people there absolutely loved the little show we put on for them. And this is where Carter really shines. He put together a whole plan for the shows we did. — At the time we were performing “theV.I.C.E.flow”, (a track we definitely need to remake/remaster…the quality is god awful) which is like a ballad type track over 7 minutes long, so Carter made a skit/musical/play type of deal for the performance. And that’s another point I want to touch on, like our only actual performer is Del (DeLaura), but the way Carter’s mind works is amazing — he’s honestly a goddamn visionary, he finds ways for us all to “perform” on stage…there’s always a way to allow everyone to be a part of the performance.
What seemed to be the most notable bit in the skit, at least from people’s reactions was that part of the track at the 1:30 mark, you know the part where we’ve panned “But I’m close to giving in if you wanna stay then stay” to the left and “What’s the matter with you girl, you should go you should go” to the right? — so here, imagine 5 people on this tiny little stage, acting out a “play,” I played the girl who’s lured into this dark world of V.I.C.E. (if you’ve heard the song you know exactly what I’m talking about ), Ari was the Devil, lip singing “I’m close to giving in…” into Del’s left ear, while Scarlett played the Angel, whispering “what’s the matter with you…” into Del’s right ear, at which point Del’s vocals slapped the audience right in the face. Thank god they at least had a spotlight, or else the whole thing would have fallen apart — But all three times we performed we got standing ovations. that right there was the only time I legitimately saw happiness shine on all our faces. It was crazy, the feeling was like nothing we’d experienced before — it’s such a rush, I can’t explain it.
Anyway, so we can’t wait to get the name out there via branding first, to then pursue touring.
Are there any other interesting or amusing happenings that the Collective has been involved with?
Well, our focus right now is to flood the gates with as much good music as we can push — hence the “NEW TRACK EVERY SUNDAY” thing we got going on. So in a way, yes, there’s always something happening that is of interest – You just gotta tune in on Sundays to find out what it is!
We’re gonna take over SoundCloud, you just wait and see.
Other than that, Carter really wanted us to start a TikTok account, since it’s currently the absolute best way to get your brand out there, thanks to the algorithm, which we all agreed with, except for Ari, who’s of course super against the whole thing. So we put the idea away, but then Del sided more with Carter, and started pushing for TikTok as well…things escalated, everyone got pretty heated, sh*t got outta hand for a minute. — Now it kinda looks like Del might just start a TikTok just under his own name, rather than for ACES’ RIDDLE, which kinda gave us all the idea to start multiple accounts, one for each one of us, well except for Ari and that way we could push the music out to a lot more people — I’m just not sure how that’ll play out as of right now though, I mean, if it’s going to break up the group, then it’s really not worth it, like at all.
So…more on that later!
What sort of plan do you guys have to make it in this incredibly competitive market?
As I mentioned before, the “Russ” strategy/method is what our approach is — a brand new track every single Sunday, which seems to be working out well, I mean in only we few months we’ve managed to attract thousands of followers, with over 200K plays on our songs, so guess we’re doing something right, right? And that’s with ZERO advertisements, nothing at all. Just imagine how much more we’ll pull in once our ads are up and running. Which will be soon!
Where was the single/EP/album recorded and who was involved in its production?
So like I mentioned before, all these tracks are being recorded in the grungy blanket/mattress fort at Carleton Uni’s dorm – we’ve recently put money together and bought some proper recording gear, and you can deadass hear the difference in this EP.
Is there a particular ethos behind the single/EP/album or any particular music styles or events that inspired it?
Definitely, this EP embodies more of a grunge R&B, mixed with Lofi hip-hop, with an artistic twist. There are a lot of elements that went into this EP in particular — it reflects a lot of emotions, and hidden messages, or riddles in every song. And obviously, reflects a lot on mental health, you just need to listen closely.
All the members are dealing with their own sh*t right now, some of us are worrying about finals, some of us are worrying about paying rent, and some are literally homeless right now. Ari and Carter are sleeping in a van, and Ottawa gets very, VERY cold. Remember how I said we’ve invested money into making our tracks sound better, well that was Ari and Carter’s rent money — they thought it wise to invest that into ACES’ RIDDLE instead of a home…I really do mean it when I say the boys are completely invested in this thing.
Being a college student is a little harder than we expected, but we’re getting through it. We’ve found our outlet, we let go of all our troubles once we get to that mattress fort we call a studio. It’s relaxing and calming, it’s like we don’t have a care in the world, and that’s our biggest V.I.C.E., we get lost in the music for hours and hours, I mean Ari’s already failing all his courses, both Del and Carter are academic probation because they did so bad. At this point I don’t even know if they’re gonna continue with school anymore, it seems like they just don’t care. They have this tunnel vision, a vision for what ACES’ RIDDLE could be, or will be and they’re giving it their all. And to be honest, I’m glad to be a part of such a dedicated group.
Can you briefly describe the tracks on MENTALLY ILL?
So like I said, some of us have a lot more going on in our lives, and you can really hear in the entirety of MENTALLY ILL — take “KEEPITNOIR,” for example, is a track that we took a more comedic approach with, but if you really listen, and I mean really listen to the lyrics, it’s a track about not fitting in. Feeling like you’re not welcome anywhere, like no one wants you, like you just don’t belong.
And we took a different approach with this particular EP, and I personally think it’s what made it stand out more than the others. Our style is definitely very dark, and you can hear that in DeLaura’s voice in all tracks, there’s a sense of pain present in the vocals. And this EP has the darkest track we’ve ever made on it, SINNER, it’s truly a horror show of unfathomable pain — so, Carter came up with yet another brilliant plan for the structure of this EP — Start off with a playful, fun type of tracks, like KEEPITNOIR, and LEECHES, and progressively darken the vibes with every song going forward. Touching on substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, etc. you know, all the good stuff you deal with in college.
But, I don’t want to give too much away, by going into detail on every song…a breakdown or description of the tracks would defeat the purpose of ACES RIDDLE…the listener has to decipher it on their own!
Were there any notable or amusing happenings surrounding the recording/production of the EP? As above, list whatever might be of relevance.
Both Ari and DeLaura had a weirdly difficult time with KEEPITNOIR, LEECHES, and SINNER – like we could all tell there were some unresolved issues and feelings floating around those songs. Like we know (and really hope ) SINNER is entirely figurative, but even so, it’s still incredibly dark, like those are legit cries you hear, Del was sobbing during recording – they never even told us what it’s really about. It’s also so weird how Ari’s mind works — it’s like he doesn’t know how to talk about his problems, what he’s gone through, or is going through right now, instead he just writes. He has like a million notebooks filled with writing. What’s also interesting, at least to me and Scarlett, is how Ari found his voice through Del. Ari writes his emotions, and Del just gets him…it’s clear from the passion behind all those vocals. Their dynamic is just mind boggling, and kinda leaves the rest of us a little jealous in all honesty. It’s not like they try to exclude the rest of the group or anything, it just sometimes kinda feels like they’re a two piece puzzle, with no room for the rest of us. But other times, it’s like ACES’ RIDDLE is one unified unit, and that’s when we put out our best work — we just need to figure out how to keep that sense of unity alive more often.
Please provide a one or two-line personal quote that can be attributed to a band member, about either the band themselves or the release. Obviously the more eye-catching this is the better.
All is CHAOS, V.I.C.E., and SSUS riddles.