River Boy

Melbourne, VIC

#Meet River Boy

“Producing music is kind of like playing the world's best video game. It's easy to get lost in it.”

Narayana Johnson, aka River Boy, creates sublime sonic landscapes where analogue and digital sounds intermingle. Growing up in Murwillumbah in Northern NSW, he’s been playing music for about 17 years and producing electronic tracks for 8. As one half of Willow Beats, he locked in sets at Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass, as well as support slots for the likes of Tash Sultana. While he’s only played a handful of live shows as River Boy, the project has already garnered him an invitation to showcase at SXSW. During the always-evolving set, Narayana creates an otherworldly vibe by layering autotune and FX over his voice. Sometimes, he plays electric guitar and flute during his set. 

Narayana’s songs as River Boy are “centered around big beats and bass juxtaposed [with] soft, sensitive vocals”, which sustain a strong emotional connection with listeners. “My lyrics are often self-reflective and self-analysing." There’s also a sense of playfulness in his compositions, which “weave together, manipulate and mangle” different sounds to create tiny universes within songs. “Creating something unique is easy in 2020 and it's just incredibly fun!”

As part of #TheBIGSOUND50, Narayana hopes to learn how to run online ad campaigns, pitch music for Spotify playlists and find the right audience for the River Boy project. “I'm looking to learn from and connect with industry professionals but also to connect with other artists and potential collaborators.”

Following the massive uptake of livestreamed performances this year, Narayana hopes to see more intimacy between artists and audiences, even after restrictions on gatherings are eased. “I think seeing an artist live stream a set from their bedroom is a window into their world and quite special.”



River Boy is the new solo project of Narayana Johnson (one half of Willow Beats). His music draws extensively on his childhood and teenage years spent roaming creeks, forests and mountains in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.

His work as one half of Willow Beats saw songs garnering millions of plays on streaming platforms along with multiple full rotation adds to triple j. The duo had sell-out tours across Australia along with playing Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Beyond the Valley, Clockenflap (Hong Kong) and supporting artists such as Tash Sultana.

River Boy is off to a flying start with songs being added to radio rotation across the country along with being featured in multiple editorially Spotify and Apple music playlists.