In 2020 Rī Wolf launched his single ‘I Wish I Could‘. He has consistently pushed out singles every month since October 2020. ‘I wish I could’ wasn’t his first ever release. Rī Wolf used to record music under his real name Darren Flowers, but had taken close to 10 years off of music to focus on his career in sports. I sat down with Darren to talk about this 10 year hiatus and why he started releasing music as Rī Wolf.
Darren grew up in Moore, Oklahoma (USA) and came from pretty humble beginnings. He was very involved in sports and school and always loved music, but didn’t really get into music seriously until his last few years in high school.
“I was fortunate to grow up and be surrounded by a diverse group of people who helped shape and influence me in many positive ways. Growing up in the heartland of the USA, sports was a prime focus and playing football, basketball and running track I ultimately developed a strong work ethic, as well as determination and focus. I think my athletic background contributed greatly to my ability to overcome adversity and work for things I want to achieve.”
“I’m currently living in McAllen, Texas right near the border of Mexico. I was hired as the Head Track and Field and Cross Country Coach at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 4 years ago.”
When were you first introduced to music?
“My mother and I would always sing songs together from a very young age and my Grandma Evelyn would always be singing throughout the day anytime that we stayed with her. I remember she had an old out of tune piano in her room that I was just fascinated with. From then on, anytime I heard a soulful melody, I was intrigued and interested.”
What inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?
“A friend of mine in high school convinced me to come out for the high school choir. He had heard me sing as we were just hanging out one day and I thought it might be a fun endeavor. Once I got into it, I realized that I did have a musical inclination, although I could never read music, I just had an ability to find melody and vocalize it. From then on, I knew music would permanently be a part of my life.”
What are your fondest musical memories?
“I was doing a tour with a couple bandmates of mine about 10 years ago or so and, to end the tour, my father had put together a little music festival at my childhood home and invited many friends and family from all across the region. After being on the road for so long, it was amazing to come home and be surrounded by people that love and support you and we just had an incredible time playing songs and catching up with each other.”
Until about 10 years ago you used to record songs under your real name, Darren Flowers, and you resurfaced as Rī Wolf in 2020. Did you stop making music in that period of time?
“So I have taken close to 10 years off of music simply to focus on my career as a collegiate track and field coach. It is a job that requires extreme focus and energy, because it is such a competitive career. It is very time intensive and in order to be at my best, I had to step back from music for a while. I’m the type of person that puts my whole soul into things I am passionate about which can be a blessing and a curse simply because balancing everything gets difficult. I also have a 7 year old daughter and a 4 year old son and I felt the need to focus my energy on them and my family as well. I never really put down the guitar completely, but it definitely took a back seat to everything else.
“Once the pandemic hit I found myself in a situation where we weren’t competing and/or practicing so I had some extra time to reflect and be creative so I decided to start playing and writing again. I found myself in a different place than I had been before creatively. I feel more sure of who I am and what I represent. I know my strengths and weaknesses and my song writing just feels more genuine now. “
How do you balance music with your other obligations these days?
“The balancing is always the tough part, but I am an early riser and I try to have my days mapped out pretty diligently so all the work and energy that I am using is focused in an efficient way. I also see the importance of having other outlets and being able to step away from projects from time to time. I can’t focus as much time and energy in my music as I would like to, but the time I do put is in is very focused and purposeful.”
What made you decide to change your name to Rī Wolf?
“As I started writing and consulting with others, I decided I would rebrand myself and what I was presenting, because it’s a new time and a new era for me and also a chance to separate my personal and professional life from my creative life. Being in a high profile position within a community, I felt that it was important that people could separate the coach from the artist and that move has paid off greatly for me.
How did you come up with the name Rī Wolf?
“The name Rī Wolf is simply a play on my last name Flowers and turning it backwards Sriwolf. I just dropped the S at the beginning and it became Ri Wolf. So I feel like it is still me, just a new version.”
Your song ‘Pieces‘ is currently in our Cool Top 20 chart. We spoke about the song before it was released. For the Release Talk you mentioned it was a song that could touch many people’s lives. Are you happy with the response for ‘Pieces’?
“The response for ‘Pieces’ has been tremendous. I’ve had so many people reach out to me who have lost loved ones or lost a child and express how that song resonates with them. It was truly a difficult song for me to write and compose, because I just was putting myself in that place over and over which was very difficult. I just hope that through this song, people know they are not alone and that we all go through loss at some point and we should be here to pick each other up through tough times.”
What does your music say about you?
“I feel like my music shows how passionate I am about life and other people. It conveys my empathy towards others as well as my connection to a higher purpose. All we really want in this life is freedom as well as to love and be loved. I try to promote those ideas and feelings in my music.”
What is your creative process like?
“I am a big Bob Marley fan and he has always been the master of melody and meaning for me. I try to embody and capture that kind of power in my songs. Most often I start with melody or maybe a guitar riff and what every that musical line makes me feel, then I might go into a lyrical idea that feels the same as the musical line or melody. Trying to bring those things together is where the magic happens in my opinion.”
Do you plan your releases, or do you just finish a song and release it? What are you working on right now?
“I do plan my releases pretty diligently. I space them out about a month apart so I have time to promote each one and let them stand for themselves. I feel like it also keeps the momentum going as an artist. I also feel like I’m not spreading myself too thin trying to build a 10-12 song full album at one time so it helps with the balancing act of life. I have releases planned for the next 3 months and a few other songs I’m working on now. The next one on March 5th is a cover song called ‘Red Light’ that has been performed by two of my favorite artists Anthony Hamilton and Jonny Lang. I’m also about to shoot a music video for one of my upcoming releases called ‘Slide’.”
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
“My goal for the next 12 months is simply to be in a place where I’ve validated myself as someone that can connect with listeners and fans through my music. Connection and engagement is paramount right now for me. I want to help lift other artists up and move them forward in their career as well and just grow together. I feel like we are all stronger together as independent artists and we have a huge opportunity right now to connect and promote each other.”
Do you have any hobbies outside music?
“My other hobbies are running and lifting weights and just trying to stay physically fit. I feel like it helps my mind, body and spirit and gives me the energy to look at the world through a clear lense and perspective. It’s a chance to get away from all the other stresses of life and really do something for myself which I think is a healthy approach when you are trying to come at anything creatively.”
What have been the greatest challenges so far? Looking back, are there things you wish you would have done differently?
“The biggest challenge for me in music has been keeping my perspective on everything. I think for anything that we want in life, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. I fell victim to that early on in my music career and would get discouraged, because maybe I wasn’t in a place that I thought I should be or didn’t have all the advantages that some other artists might have. I’ve come to realize that attitude can be toxic and can really burn you out in anything you do so I’ve learned to enjoy my journey and promote and lift other artists up along the way. This can be a very difficult industry and I know and respect how hard working and creative some of these artists are. I also realize that I can always learn from others which just makes me better and so it doesn’t do anyone any good to treat this artform like a competition. I’ve also learned that this whole ride is really about connection and so I make a big effort to make meaningful connections along the way.”
What’s your favourite song in the Cool Top 20?
I’m really enjoying Dara Barry-Hayes ‘I Want To Know Everything‘ – the lyrics, songwriting and style reminds me of Guster, one of my favorite bands.
What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“I’d like to add ‘Better Someday‘ simply because I think alot of people need to hear that right now…things are going to get better we just need to hang in there, support each other and stay positive!”
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
“Follow your crazy passion until your passion becomes practical.”