Nikolai Rya & Elijah Heaps: Denton Brothers Bound for Success

Success is about collaboration and Elijah Heaps & Nikolai Rya know it. These two are brothers, musicians, artists, Dentonite’s, and they are both ready for what's next. Whether they are supporting local music festivals, playing gigs at the newest venues in town, or hopping a plane to Washington to play a couple of gigs, these boys know the game, even at a young age, and know how to work it.

Heaps, 22, and his brother Rya, 18, are two of North Texas’s most determined musicians.

“I create for myself because I believe I was given a gift and it is not only a waste but also a tragedy to waste your natural talents,” Heaps says. “I believe that music is one of the only mediums left in the world that is fully capable of bringing together people (regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc), and really take things back to a time when feeling & emotion was a universal language.”

The two are part of a local collective called Genuine. Alongside other artists and musicians, Rya & Heaps are able to create what they want to create while also being apart of something bigger than themselves. “It's a big collective and a family after that,” Heaps says.

Heaps is the founder of Genuine and manages event curation while Rya is an engineer. In addition to the two, there is Ch3xican (founder, graphic artist, producer/DJ), NikkoNostalgia (artist), Hydrohipo aka Kailon Medrano (visual artist/photographer), Henry Jackson (videographer/photographer), Caitlin Robinson (writer, blogger, painter) and a bunch of very close associates who promote, volunteer time/services, like Daniel Diaz, Javi Arriaga, & more.

“I think talent and music has nothing to do with the age of the person.” Rya says. “It might influence the type of music made but there are no limitations for the youth. Everybody wants to be included.”

As someone who just turned 18 earlier this year, Rya has had difficulties getting into venues to perform. “It's what I enjoy doing to ease the stress in everyday life,” he says. “I feel that I have a gift to transfer a message through energy for the ones that take the time to listen to the true quality.” 

“All ages shows are important in Denton (and any area really) because music caters to all kinds of people,” Heaps says. “It's ridiculous to only offer music at 18+, or now mostly 21+ simply to make more money and draw drinking crowds.”

Tonight, Friday, October 28, the duo will take the stage at Backyard on Bell, Denton’s newest bar/venue. One of best things about Backyard on Bell is that they are an all ages venue - not 18+ or 21+. There will be a costume contest and multi-genre music offerings.

“I remember numerous occasions as a young boy looking up to some of my idols as they graced the stage with their badass pants and long hair,” Heaps says, “and thinking to myself ‘someday that will be me, I want to do this forever.’ Some of my first stints of inspiration are due to me being face to face with my legends and inspirations.”

In the next couple of months, Rya will be releasing his new solo project called “City Roots" and Heaps is working on his first studio album. For now, we have the online premiere of their latest album, The Place That We Go.


Photo by Mateo Granados
Header image design by Sara Button