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Ruby Joyce Interview: "15 year old me would never dream of saying this stuff"
One of our favourite breakout North West stars from last year was undoubtedly Ruby Joyce. Her ingle 'Growing On You' was built around a web of winding, Dream Pop guitars mixed with a little taste of lyrical angst. There is a really intriguing contrast at play throughout the song. The instrumentals creating quite a serene, hazy summer swing full of warm Indie tones and an upbeat rhythm.
Meanwhile, Ruby's vocals have a smooth melody but with a distinctively passionate undertone. Her voice drifts between a resonant depth that rings of The Smiths and a brighter, sun-kissed chorus melody that is undeniably infectious. Both the vocals and instrumentation capture the heartfelt intensity of the lyrical content and make you feel every emotion that is being radiated towards you. We sat down with Ruby to discuss her creative process and the vulnerability that comes with bearing all in her poetically expressive lyricism.
Q. You released your first single when you were 15! How does it feel looking back on that first single now?
A. Well I started writing when I was 11 so I had a little bit of a catalogue but it was all rubbish but then by 15 I was starting to write stuff I kind of liked. It was really cool but no one cared at that point - I didn’t have the authority or the vocabulary at that point to actually say what I wanted to make and I didn’t know who I was at that time either. I’m still really proud of it but it's just not really me.
Q. What has changed over recent years to make you feel more in touch with the music you are creating?
A. I think I have become more myself and find out who I am, or at least who I am at the moment. I’ve also definitely discovered my own personal music taste and I’ve met so many people who have made it possible. I collaborate with lots of people at my uni and they make it so much better.
Q. How does this collaboration change the way you approach your songwriting?
A. ‘Growing On You’ which I wrote is a bop and is pretty easy to listen to but when I’ve been writing with my housemate Connor this year we’ve actively thought how we can make it more interesting and we’ve changed things with that in mind. I’ve started writing by myself again for the first time in a year and the difference between how my songs sound now compared to a year ago is crazy to me!
Q. Do you feel it’s more confidence or practice that has allowed this development to occur?
A. I think it’s being around people who have really pushed me. I had major imposter syndrome this year, feeling that I shouldn’t be where I am and someone else should have my place but I’ve been pushed so much by my mates who are just casually incredible and have made me step up.
Q. Do you feel you have developed lyrically too?
A. Definitely! I’ve been way more experimental with lyrics and the sound that we’ve created has become progressively grittier so I’ve become more comfortable expressing that in the lyrics as well.
Q. Do you lean more towards the grittier and melancholic side of lyricism to avoid reverting to that cheesier and more pop-oriented style that you wrote when you were younger?
A. I don’t think I could ever write a truly happy song, cheese is almost impossible to avoid!
Q. Does your next single tackle similarly poignant themes as your previous releases?
A. Yes, so the next single I'm releasing is about one of my close friends and their struggle with their mental health to the point where there’s no advice I can offer them because I'm not at all qualified to even really engage in the conversation and I don’t know how to help. Instead, I talk to them about stupid, pointless things so this song is based on those numerous conversations we’ve had where they’ve had serious problems and I’ve just brought up pointless things to take their mind off it. But then I've also been writing about things like body image and relationships with food this year. I’ve got a song with the lyrics “I’m so stuck inside my ways, I want a body tailor made. 15 year old me would never dream of saying stuff like that but it’s raw you know so i’m like ‘Fuck it!’.
Q. Do you feel at all exposed when performing these lyrics live?
A. I think it depends what the setting is…If i’m with my friends no but if i’m playing in front of a load of people I don’t know it feels very scary and vulnerable but I like it because it's more real. Everyone goes through stuff like that, maybe not the exact same thing but everyone can relate to a certain extent because it’s real human emotion. What I find crazy is that when you hear a song from an artist, that is probably in no way a reflection of what is going on with them now. So, you hear it for the first time and form such an insistent obsession and attachment to the song and it’s emotional content and what it means to you but the likelihood is that song was written ages ago and the artist is sharing it with you now because they can let go of it. It’s very therapeutic.
Q. So do you find it easier to write about your past than your present?
A. Yeah, I usually find that if I'm in the midst of something and it’s occupying all of my headspace I can’t write about it until I've processed all of my emotions. If I did, everything I wrote would be way too literal and it wouldn’t be at all poetic and meaningful. Sometimes I like that kind of brutish approach because sometimes it’s what’s needed but most of the time I prefer to say things in less of a literal sense.
Q. On the flip side of performing your lyrics live, do you feel more reassured when you hear people singing those lyrics back to you?
A. It’s crazy! I wasn’t used to hearing people sing my lyrics or know my songs so now when I’m gigging and people know the words I'm like “Why have you learned that?”. It’s one of the biggest displays of validation, acceptance and care for someone to have learned the words to your song. It just makes me really emotional and makes me wanna cry!