Originally appeared on the 405, view archived article here.
Jenn Whiteman and Samantha Howard were fast friends when they met in Paris. After they worked together on Whiteman’s EP, Latimer Road, in 2016, they left the door open for future collaborations. They now have a release out under the name RYVOLI. Warm harmonies underscore stirring folklore about experiences with anxiety and the Apollo 11 mission on their debut Theories EP. It represents a specific time in their lives which has left them more at ease with themselves, and they hope it can shed light for anyone else that may feel lost.
Read more about the circumstances surrounding RYVOLI’s new EP in the interview below. Read the full interview here.
How did you meet and reunite?
JENN: My husband and I and our then-one kid, moved to Paris in 2012 and we were there for four and a half years. My husband was a video producer for a non-profit organization and in our last six months that we were there, Sam came to do an internship for the same non-profit. She worked for a different arm of it, so we were doing different things but we went to the same church and hung out in the same groups and had a lot of the same friends.
SAM: Jenn and I had gotten really close when we were there and it was really hard when Jenn and her family moved back to Lexington—I felt super alone. So I actually ended up coming back two months later, rather than staying for two years like I had originally agreed with the non-profit. I’m from Pennsylvania, so I went back there for like two weeks initially. I had no idea what my next steps were in life so I decided to visit friends in different cities and then just pick one of those places to live. Jenn was the first stop. I think I was here for about three days before settling in. She opened up her guest room in her house and I’ve been living there for almost two years. I think we came up with our band name like two weeks or something after I’d moved here.
About your band name—what is the significance of the Rue de Rivoli to you both and the music?
JENN: We knew Paris was an important part of the story—without it, we wouldn’t have met and this wouldn’t be happening, so it was just a tribute to that. Rue de Rivoli is the main road that runs east-west through the heart of Paris and it’s very close to where we initially met. We both spent quite a lot of time walking on that road and as soon as we said the name aloud we knew that was it. But there was a mariachi band on Facebook already that had the name first. We knew that would be social media suicide so we changed the spelling. Phonetically, y is pronounced the same way as i in French, so RYVOLI worked.