Rising Country Star Rvshvd Talks Eclectic Influences and Small Town Beginnings, Reveals Story Behind Epic Ice Nine Kills 'Cottonmouth' Remix (Exclusive)

Nashville's country music scene is one that has produced some of the greatest and most iconic artists of the entire music industry — huge names, many of whom likely had small beginnings in the streets of Music City U.S.A. To this day, you can throw a rock and hit any number of writers and performers who desperately hope to be the next big thing. However, over the past few years, there has been a noticeable shift in the country music industry, with more and more "left of center" type artists taking their rightful place in the spotlight, offering a new kind of country music experience. Rvshvd is one of these gamechagers.

Born and raised in the small town of Willacoochee, Georgia, Rvshvd's career beginnings start as humbly as those of legends like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. He eventually discovered hip-hop music as a kid and later developed a love for country and rock. It's these three genres that listeners find so perfectly and evenly blended into his music, creating some near-indescribable version of country rock that is accessible to more than just one genre fanbase. Recently, PopCulture.com had a chance to speak with Rvshvd about his music, and he offered some insight into how his passion evolved, what inspires him, and how his fiancé is his most fine-tuned soundingboard.

Revealing the earliest memory he has of being captivated by music, Rvshvd shared that it all started back in 2022 with the Bow Wow film Like Mike. "I had a little VHS tape and back then when you had the VHS tapes, and if the movie had a big soundtrack or something before the movie, they always played a music video," he explained, "And before Like Mike, they played that basketball video where he was rapping and stuff and I was like, 'I could do that.' And so that's when I started messing around with rap and finding out about Tupac and Eminem and Lil Wayne. And I did that until I was up about 18."

"Then I want to say when I was 20," Rvshvd continued, "that's when I was like, 'I ain't never tried country music.' I've always liked it to an extent, but when my daddy tried to put me on it, I didn't like it. We would watch cars and stuff, he would always turn on country music. I'm like, 'Man, I don't want to hear this,' so I put my headphones in, little MP3 player. And then I heard Keith Urban, 'Sweet Thing,' and I was like, 'It ain't that bad.'"

The musical absorption didn't stop there, as Rvshvd also shared, "In the mornings I would go to school with my mama, and she always got there early because she worked in the lunchroom so me and my sister would go with her, and that meant we got to sit in the lunchroom and we had access to the TV. I would bounce back and forth between 27 was MTV, channel 28 was CMT and Channel 29 was VH1. And one day, and one day I popped on CMT and I think 'Cruise' was on by Florida Georgia Line and... I'm like, 'Man, that was hard when it came out.' And I just stayed on that channel. I was like, 'Dang, this what y'all doing over here?'"

Rvshvd then confessed, "And then even then, I still didn't really get into it, trying to do it." However, it would be long before his creative curiosity got the best of him and lead him to produce his debut EP. "I was like, I never tried country music. I think the first one I did was 'Memories' and I sent it around to a couple people and they was like, 'Yo, you should do a whole EP.' And so being in Willacoochee, there ain't a lot of people there that did music and so I was used to how stuff went in the rap world, how you just get on BeatStars and you just find a beat. I was like, 'Okay, well I'm just going to do that for country.' And I got on there, I was looking up country-type beats. And I did Memories. I think I recorded that whole EP in a week. And I put it out, got the biggest reaction I ever got from my music."

The experimentation taught Rvshvd a lot about himself and his talents. "I guess because it was just easier for me to do," he admitted. "It felt like in rap you don't have to put on this persona or nothing or in R&B or pop, you got to be this certain type of person. And it was like, with country I could just be myself. And it just flowed out easy and I was like, this is what I want to do."

In 2021, Rvshvd saw his craft evolve quite a bit, dropping tracks like "Raised Up" and "Never Change," but it was 2022 that brought his biggest hit so far, "Cottonmouth," a dark, whiskey-soaked country track that made major waves before landing a killer rock remix featuring Ice Nine Kills frontman Spencer Charnas. "It was me and Michael Lotten and Michael Whitworth and we was in a writing session and they was like, 'Okay, what you want to write about?' And I hadn't heard a bunch of country songs about somebody switching up on you and I was like, I done had that happen and I want to write it. I just never knew how."

From there, "Cottonmouth" was formed, but the track wasn't ready just yet. First, it needed to pass a crucial test. "So we started messing around and then we came out with it and we had a really rough demo and I actually played it to my girlfriend," Rvshvd said. "And with her, it's either she like it or she don't. It's sometimes I was just like, 'oh, well maybe she don't like it because it's just a demo and it sounds really bad,' and she's like, 'Nah, I just don't like it.' I played her 'Cottonmouth,' but she liked that one.

With the most important seal of approval earned, Rvshvd took "Cottonmouth" to the rest of the world, where it very quickly gained some high praise from music critics and listeners alike. However, just as he was ready to move on to his next single, the universe had a different plan. "I had been performing at shows and stuff, and then I did it at CMA Fest and that's where I wore the Ice Nine Kills shirt," he said, revealing that he was a fan of the metalcore band long before Charnas signed on for the "Cottonmouth" rock remix.

"We was making the artwork for 'Hit Different,' the one that's coming out [Jan. 26th]. And the original cover I had on the Ice Nine Kills shirt." Rvshvd and his manager Jonnie Forster were not sure they could "get clearance" to use the image on his new single, but Sumerian Records head honcho Ash Avildsen offered his assistance. "Ash was like, 'Oh, well I can hit them up,'" Rvshvd recalled. "And he was like, 'Okay, they're cool with it.' And I'm like, 'What? Just like that.'"

"Now we got the cover art," he continued. "But then Jonnie was like, 'What do you think about having them on a song?" And I was like, 'That'd be dope because I used to listen to them a lot.' My homeboy put me on them. And so he sent them the Cottonmouth and Spencer loved it and he was like, "Yeah, I'll hop on.'"

Elaborating on how his love of rock music began to help shape his sound, Rvshvd shared, "That's always what I wanted to do. I started listening to rock when ... I don't even remember. But I didn't have no internet. I didn't have no CD player. I had an old phone and I was recording songs off the radio and listening to them from my phone."

It was an iconic nu-metal band that he would soon discover who helped start him down the path he walks now, along with a little help from the WWE. "And then one day my mama, she went to the laundromat and I found this old, it was this old CD and I took it home, put it in the CD player, and it had a bunch of rock stuff on it," he recalled. "But one of them that I remember specifically was Linkin Park, "In the End." And it was some old burnt bootleg CD with all these rock songs on it. I was like, 'That's cool.' Around the time I was already into wrestling, and so that really got me into rock too because all the theme songs and stuff."

So what's next up for Rvshvd in 2023? "Definitely got some more singles on the way," he told us. "I'm still thinking about if I want to do an album or EP. And definitely doing a lot more shows. That's mostly why I'm doing all this new music so I can just revamp my whole setlist." For those day one fans who have been on Rvshvd for the past few years, never fear, he hasn't forgotten you. "I'm keeping all that stuff," he said. "It's just I got a few in there that I want to switch out. I want to come test the waters with."

On Thursday, Rvshvd dropped his newest song, "Hit Different," a musical autobiography of a working-class kid from the South who never let the world tell him who he is. We could attempt to relegate the song, or its artist, to a very specific genre title, like "country rap-rock" — and we have — but, frankly, that's a disservice to both. The fact of the matter is, pure and simple, Rvshvd's genre is Rvshvd.