The enchanting crooner, Ruby Jones, releases her new single Feeling of Falling at the Gasometer Collingwood Friday 1st of March. We catch up with her to talk about how her past bands have shaped her to the artist she is today and the importance of live performance in the era of TikTok.
Feeling of Falling feels like a cinematic cowboy ballad. You can practically feel the dusty hot air from a Western landscape wrap around you as Ruby sings about having her heart ripped apart. It’s moving and tragic, just like all good movies. I was surprised to learn that the lyrics were initially inspired by an untimely visit from COVID. “We were booked to go into the studio to begin work on the record and of course Joel (Ruby’s partner) and I tested positive. So that went out the window! So I tried to write a song that was like a break up or unrequited love song but about COVID! I tried to reimagine Coronavirus as a commitment phobic male musician. Because though I don't know anything about respiratory illnesses, I do know a thing or two about them!”
This is the first single from her upcoming album, previously releasing The Woman Who Loves You album in 2021 and more recently a single with Loretta Miller, Eighteen. Ruby’s work has an air of 60s balladeer like Nancy Sinatra and 70s soft rock like Fleetwood Mac, drawing comparisons to artists such as Angel Olsen and Lana Del Ray. She is well known for captivating live shows, drawing large audiences of devotees to soak up every minute. It may not surprise you that her start on the stage happened very young. “I first started playing live when I was 17. I wasn't even technically aloud to enter the establishments I was gigging in at the time and I was always scared I was going to get kicked out of my own show! I remember getting offered a weekly residency at very divey place on Brunswick street whilst I was still in high school! All my friends were stressing about studying for exams and I was playing these gigs on school nights haha!”
But becoming the sensation she is now didn’t happen overnight and Ruby has an extensive music resume leading up to her current solo work. From those days at Brusnwick st dive bars to fronting indie bands and singing in Clairy Browne and The Bangin’ Rackettes. Ruby explains how each musical incarnation has helped shape the performer to this day. “It was a BIG deal for me to get out from behind my piano. I wanted to be Joni Mitchell and I was terrified about fronting a band. It’s a real artform and not one that came naturally to me. I really had to work on it. The Rackettes was huge for me in that sense. Everything about being a performer, an artist, a songwriter I really honed in that band. I really loved how much CBBR was a real show you know and I've taken that into my live performances now in both my solo band and my work with Loretta.”
Those early days of playing in bands and being part of a musical community is something Ruby highlights as an important step in her career. “I think for me the natural way of becoming an artist was to get out there and see gigs, meet other musicians and play with them. When I first started playing gigs I knew literally no one in the music business, so I had to go out to shows to meet people. I was working at vintage store at the time so I could always tell who the people who were in a band were as soon as they walked in! I'd get an invite to a gig or get invited to open for bands purely for hooking them up with a 70s jacket! My whole start was based on being out there in the music scene and seeing live music. I think I went to a gig pretty much every night of the week!”
However, in the post Covid world, those days of seeing bands every night of the week seem like long forgotten traditions. And Ruby is all too aware. “Covid has obviously changed all of that, it’s very tough to get punters through the door any more, let alone industry folks. I remember back in the height of the Rackettes success, promoters and bookers used to come and see the show cause we were really known as a live music band. These days festival bookers only want to see a video, TikTok or social media page which I find extremely depressing.”
Going beyond the cost of living, the rise of social media and streaming there’s been an attitudinal shift that is affecting the whole music industry. Ruby comments, “as a society don't value the labour of artists. We sort of live in this universe now where everyone just thinks music is "content" and content should be free. I think that’s what Covid really showed us; that without the live component pretty much no one makes money from streaming.”
Despite this, Ruby remains positive. “I think that it will return eventually! Nothing will ever beat the experience of seeing a really great band live. I truly believe that so I'm trying to stay positive that eventually we'll all put our phones down and see some music again. But that’s what I always tell younger artists who ask for advice, go out and see shows.”
Her love of live music is palpable. When asked about live bands she’s excited about she quickly reels off a list. “Obviously Jazz Party are the best live band in my view. Loretta is such a compelling front woman and Darcy McNulty doesn't get enough credit as one of Australia’s best songwriters. Obviously they’re my best friends so perhaps I'm a bit biased! Camilla and Simone who were the original Bangin’ Rackettes are now in a band called Cong Josie and if you haven't seen them live I highly recommend it. They kind of remind me of a twisted version of the B52s mixed with The Cramps in nudie suits and lots of leather. Raging Hormones are another band who put on an incredible show. Also my friend Patty Wilson is an amazing live performer, his record is wonderful too.”
Ruby is launching her new single at the Gasometer Hotel Upstairs. An intimate space, it creates a unique atmosphere that I’m sure Ruby will make full use of. “We’re doing the whole Ruby Jones witchy thing! I've got smoke machines, chiffon capes, about 100 candles (fake ones because as my father in law is a CFA captain).
I actually much prefer small packed out shows. They are much more fun than playing a big festival in my view. It’s the energy for sure. I really like dark sweaty gigs! Those were always my favourite gigs in whichever band I was in."
Ruby Jones, releases her new single Feeling of Falling Upstairs at the Gasometer Hotel Collingwood, Friday 1st of March with support from Nitida.
Buy tickets from Oxtix here https://tickets.oztix.com.au/outlet/event/012c80d3-c25e-40a5-ab3a-020b9a43f702
Her new single, Feeling of Falling is out on streaming services from Friday 9th Feb.