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Floral Cow taps into creativity

Experimental filmmaker at Indiana University selected to be ALT Spotlight artist

Floral Cow is the latest addition to the ALT Spotlight.


Published September 21, 2022

The latest entry into the ALT Spotlight is as unique as his name would suggest.

Floral Cow is an experimental film student at Indiana University who spent a year in India to study Carnatic music and released his genre-defiant EP Wasteland Disco last month.

“I’ve been describing it as an attempt to groove while everything else is burning down,” said Floral Cow, a.k.a. Dominick Rivers. “Most of the album was written during extreme grief. I lost my brother in 2020, on top of a global pandemic. So, it was kind of like, ‘How can we still enjoy ourselves when everything has gone to (crap)?’ ”

The self-released EP found its way to ALT 99.5 FM, 102.3 FM DJ Zack Skyler after Rivers took a shot in the dark, having heard about the station from his uncle.

“He always raves about the station, and I remembered that when I was putting the CD together, so I figured, ‘Why not? I’ll send them a message and see what’s up,’ ” Rivers said. “It worked very well.”

It definitely did work, catching the ear of Skyler, who’s been playing “Just a Little Bit,” during Rivers’ Spotlight sessions and the station’s one-hour Homegrown Showcase every Friday at 7 p.m.

“He has an interesting story … traveled around the world, writes good, interesting songs, makes films, loves art, and is about to become a music professor at I.U. Not bad for a young guy,” Skyler said. “When I first received his submission for Homegrown, I popped with the first song I heard called “Just a Little Bit.” It immediately reminded me of a vibe of The Kinks meets The Zombies.”

When it comes to his art, music is involved in everything Rivers does.

“With the films, I produce the soundtrack and the score, so the sonic elements of every film is done by me,” he said. “So, music has always been the through line, the main thread through everything.”

On Wasteland Disco, his experimentation is evident, as no two songs sound alike, with some of them having deep meaning to Rivers.

“I took one of my brother’s poems and set it to music,” Rivers said. “ ‘New Years 1985’ is actually a sermon that my father was forced to give as a 9-year-old child on New Year’s Eve. It’s just a lot of looking back and altering those specific moments.”

On another track, “Mama Fazio’s,” Rivers describes his first panic attack while working at a pizza parlor over bass lines and ambient music. 

“I love Beck and his early work like Stereopathetic Soulmanure, and sometimes there were some anecdotes,” Rivers said. “I was like, ‘This is a pretty silly story,’ especially following some really experimental pieces. I thought that would be a palette cleanser.”

Taking all the instrumentation on himself, outside of the drums on a couple tracks, the album is all Rivers.

Despite all his creativity, the tale of where the name Floral Cow came from is a bit dull.

“It’s a moniker I’ve been using for about a decade now,” he said. “I don’t know, I just like flowers and cows.”

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