ATX Interviews Music

Interview with River Revival Texas Music Festival founder Shaun Brennan

If you’re looking for a music festival where you don’t have to Instagram every moment, River Revival Texas Music Festival is the place to be! You’ll find a communal, Bohemian spirit vibe reminiscent of Woodstock but done Texas style. How does live-music, communal meals, and camping along the Guadalupe River sound? That’s what you’ll get at River Revival according to Splice Records founder and creator of the festival, Shaun Brennan. Now in it’s third year, the festival will host around 500 campers and musicians for a weekend filled with music, outdoors and an escape from the city held September 29 – October 1.  We chatted with Shaun about starting his own record label Splice Records and how the festival was born.

What made you want to form your own record label?

I started making music videos and always had a passion for film. When I came back to Houston, I started working at a place called the Artery where I did production, film work and met a lot of musicians. We were making live music in a really beautiful space that was dedicated to art, musicians and every type of artist. It was a communal atmosphere. I came up with Splice Records that was an affiliation with a production company that me and my brother started when we were young teenagers with an old VHS video camera making little films that we used  to call Splice of Life films. I learned how it was to be a record label shortly after forming Splice Records. I had the idea before I knew how to do it. It’s been a learning process and a work in progress. It’s been something that I’ve really fallen in love with. We’re coming up on our fourth year.

How do you choose the artists you want to bring on to Splice?

I really have to dig the music. It’s a big deal to me because if I’m listening to it over and over I want it to be something I want to listen to over and over. We like bands, I really like someone who has a personality and a story behind them. Music is another form of storytelling and I think that you can fall in love with the musician’s charisma, sometimes even before you fall in love with their music. Charisma is really important for me.  But sound wise right now we have probably picked the most difficult projects that are these confused genres of not quite rock, not quite country, not quite Americana, not quite anything. Houston music is a massive confused genre of a melting pot of everything. There is every kind of ethnicity and background that swim in a big pot stirred up like a good gumbo. You get a little bit of Spanish, Blues, Indian guitar, Country and you mix that with some rock n’ roll and I think that is what the Houston sound is. I like when the singer is the one writing the lyrics and has a knack for penmanship and knows how to touch people with the words. I like good songwriters mixed into this confused kind of Houston genre. We’re always looking for something new and exciting.

How did the River Revival festival begin?

River Revival is basically a collection of everything that’s important to me wrapped in one weekend. Good food, good drinks right by the river with a consciousness of understanding of how important it is to keep the river clean, it’s kind of trying to scale down the festival to make it smaller, more personal, more quaint, personable and more of a connection. The anti-festival. We’re not trying to get a bunch of people there, not trying to get a 1000 people to come. We’re trying to get a nice collection of people where we can all be comfortable, have fun and for at least two days you feel like you own this little section of the river. Most people like to be in the river. It feels really, really good. We make sure that everyone that walks in the door is equal. If you have more money it doesn’t mean anything because there’s nothing to buy. Everything is complimentary which gives it a real communal spirit which is what camping is all about. At the end of the night when we set up the main stage we go acoustic for the rest of the night. It’s unplugged and more campfire style so you get a little bit of everything.

What’s been an unexpected by product out of the festival that you didn’t expect?

When I go somewhere I sometimes run into someone who was at the festival and the response is something that I definitely wasn’t prepared for. I thought it was going to be a good time and I thought it was a good idea but it really catches some people. It’s important for them. Quite a few of people who go are ones who don’t go outdoors, don’t normally camp, don’t normally go into nature, usually aren’t floating the river or fishing. People have gone to River Revival and they came out of it differently. I’ve heard people tell me that “I’ll never be the same after I went to it.”

I had someone in my family whom I’m fairly close with go to the festival and came back and sold their house, minimized everything and simplified everything. They told me the know the reason why they sold the house was because of River Revival. They said “Yea, we had such a good time that it touched us that less is more and we needed to be out of the city.” I was just shocked. I never thought that and it was never designed for people to give up on the city beause I don’t, I live in Houston but I love to get out and be in nature. Some of the people think about it all year and can’t wait for it. It always puts a little pressure on me to come through every year. I’ve always wondered how long I’ve wanted to do this. It takes a lot out of me specifically. It’s a lot of work, organizing and marketing. It’s a lot of trying to tell people what the idea is. It’s exhausting. 

What are you looking forward to this year at the festival?

Pimps of Joytime

This year there’s a band that I’m really in love with who is headlining the event called the Pimps of Joytime. I’ve seen them live about five to six times and they’ve never been to Texas. Everybody that I’ve taken to see them live with me at jazz fests comes back with the same feeling I have with them that I have that they are the greatest f*cking live band that I’ve ever seen! For me, my biggest musical accomplishment that I’ve ever done in these four years is bringing this amazing band to Texas and playing this little festival called River Revival. It may not seem like much to others, but to me it’s one of my crowning achievements in the music world. They are one of those bands that once you see them live you’ll instantly fall in love with how amazing their show is, how high energy and fun and talented they are. The lead singer to me is the modern day Prince. He produces a lot of music and among the musician world everybody knows this cat. I’m counting down the moment to when the doors open and counting down the moment til they get on stage.

Don’t miss out on this unique festival and get your tickets here. River Revival Music Festival will take place on September 29 – October 1. You can find more information on the full line-up of musical acts and activities here. 

We will be getting in on the fun and camping so make sure to follow us on our social media for all the fun! 


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