Ruth B. Making Music and Finding Solace in Solitude
THIIIRD Magazine speaks to singer-songwriter Ruth B. about spending time alone to actualise passions and a sense of self during lockdown.
Interview by Tiffany Adepoju
Like the many of us, Ruth B. is at home in her quiet hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was from this same sleepy town that back in 2015 Ruth became famous worldwide when she posted her first Vine. The six-second clip of her original song, Lost Boys, inspired by Peter Pan, blew up acting as her initiation into the music industry.
A lot has happened since her viral Vine — for one, Vine is not even a thing any more (RIP), and Ruth B has worked hard since then to deliver a debut album and two EPs, with unforgettable singles such as If I have a son, Slow Fade and of course, most recently, Dirty Nikes.
With inspirations such as Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys, it is no surprise that Ruth B.’s songs are not only rich in truth and wisdom, but their creation is also a form of self care.
Leaving the bustle of New York to return to the more peaceful setting of her teenage years was a choice made in light of the pandemic. Compassionate to our global struggle, Ruth B. describes how she has used this time to slow down and turn inwards to reflect on the relationship between solace and self love.
Tiffany Adepoju: Talk me through your process of writing and creating music.
Ruth B.: I’ll have a concept or an idea or whatever I’m going through at the time, and I’ll try to find chords that sound like [what I’m] feeling. For the most part, I write all my songs in my room at home and with a keyboard setup.
TA: What is it like being an artist right now during the pandemic? Has it affected your writing?
RB: Being an artist right now is definitely tough, especially for artists who love to tour. It’s also a time to be super introspective and just take this time to hone in on your own craft, so it has its ups and downs. For me it’s working out now just because I’ve gotten in the groove of being able to make music from home.
It [writing] has been pretty interesting, definitely harder because your experiences are obviously limited now as you can’t do much. I’m trying to do it as best as I can and it’s been cool to write and record from home again which is how I started making music, so that’s been fun definitely to tap back into.
“Before, when I was younger, I was just very much like I just didn’t want to pay attention, and I’d try to be blind to a lot of things. Now, as I get older, it’s harder to do that. It’s really important to be aware, to have important conversations, to try and make some sort of change even in your own circle”
TA: What inspires your music as a singer-songwriter?
RB: I always say it’s like everyday life, even the little experiences can have music and songs in them. I try to live my life and whether that’s heartbreak or love or anger, sadness, excitement – whatever it is, I try to channel it into a song.
TA: You write about being lonely, starting from scratch and making friends in your previous songs. What advice would you give to those going through those similar things?
RB: I would say, one of the most important things I’ve learned is being able to find solace and being alone and being by yourself. It’s really important to prioritise the relationship that you have with yourself. Just getting to know yourself so that being lonely doesn’t feel as lonely and then I feel like once you have a good grasp on who you are, it’s just easier to go out into the world and find like-minded people and connect in that way.
TA: In your other songs you speak about heartbreak, so how have you dealt with heartbreak in the past?
RB: The way I usually deal with heartbreak is through music and writing songs. Everyone has those things that make them feel better, whether it’s reading or playing a sport or hanging out with friends. It’s just about finding things that make you you — submerge yourself in that. It always helps make heartbreak a little less tough.
TA: At what point did your passion translate to ‘I want to make this my career’? Was it after responses to when you started being popular on Vine?
RB: Yeah definitely actually, until then I had, I just really loved music and making music but I don’t know if I saw it as a tangible thing that I could do. Then once I started seeing people react to my writing, particularly the writing for Lost Boy – seeing people’s comments and people eager to hear more of what I had to say meant a lot to me and pushed and encouraged me.
TA: What was it like coming into the public eye through Vine?
RB: At first it was definitely weird, but like all things you just get used to it. For me, I put a lot of my focus on music making. Everything else you can just [make] background noise, so it was just really cool to be able to find myself in like a real studio [with] producers and engineers.
TA: If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
RB: There’s a song called Close Your Eyes and Count to 10 by Grouplove. It’s my all-time favourite song ever so probably that one. I love them so much.
TA: We’ve heard the brilliant Dirty Nikes and Slow, tasters of your album due for release in 2021. Some feel these tunes are quite different from your previous work, Lost Boys and Superficial for example. What can we expect from your 2021 album in terms of sound, visuals, lyrics?
RB: It’ll be pretty different from my firstborn in terms of the sound. As a writer and musician, I’ve just evolved a lot in terms of the stories and the lyrics [I write, but] they’re very much the same, in the sense that they’re honest and they’re from me and written by me.
TA: Tell us about your track If I have a son. What’s the inspiration and how are you feeling right now about the current social climate?
RB: It was around the time of the George Floyd video that was circulating. For me, it had been wanting to write, I just didn’t know how and when I did write it. It wasn’t really something I was going to put out, but after I played it for some friends they were like we should definitely share this.
TA: How are you dealing with everything that is going on right now?
RB: Before when I was younger, I was just very much like I just didn’t want to pay attention, and like, I’d try to be blind to a lot of things. Now as I get older, it’s harder to do that. It’s really important to be aware, to have important conversations, to try and make some sort of change even in your own circle. I know sometimes it feels really overwhelming. What can I do? It’s about, you know, being there and having these conversations and trying to propel change even if it’s in a little way.