Local Spotlight: Vertical Africa

 Listen to Safari  here .

Listen to Safari here.

Vertical Africa’s electronic sound does not fit into one subcategory of EDM or electronic music. John Riley is the mastermind behind the project and sole producer of nearly all of his entire 5-album discography. John told me in an interview that he tried to explore many genres in his latest album, including  “house, footwork, trap, chill-wave, electronica, ambient, etc.” He says,  “It’s like a safari of music for your ears to enjoy.” The album is properly titled Safari and, although all of the tracks are created and produced by John, nearly every song feels like it could come from a completely different album. His versatility is impressive, covering many genres and subgenres of electronic and more, making “Safari” an interesting album to listen to.

Born in Carbondale, John moved to Peoria when he was 2 and has been around music his entire life. His father played many instruments and John began playing around with guitars, pianos, and keyboards at a very young age, but it wasn’t until he was 14 or 15 that he began to record and produce his own music. Vertical Africa began under the name thEnd in 2011. John changed the name of his project to Vertical Africa and released a self-titled 10-track album the following year in 2014 and has since released 4 other albums including his latest, “Safari.” John told me that his production skills have “evolved immensely” since he began to produce, and that he has settled into a more refined, fine-tuned sound.

Vertical Africa is playing a show at Rail II Friday night that is sure to be a banger. The show starts at 8pm and includes many local artists including Ekim, Enders, Afterburnerz, PapaBear, and Hippie Squishers. Come out and support your local scene! You don’t want to miss it. A link to the show’s Facebook event page can be found here.


You can listen to “Safari” here and you can listen to the entirety of Vertical Africa’s discography at verticalafrica.bandcamp.com. Like Vertical Africa on Facebook here and keep up with his work on his SoundCloud profile here.

Matt Rundle