Since starting out busking on the streets of Cronulla, Ruby Fields has shot to local and international recognition, playing across Australia and a few recent shows in London. Her song writing has been praised for its direct and raw lyricism in addition to well-rounded instrumentation. We had a chat with her about putting it all together and making plans for Splendour 2019.
BYO: Permanent Hermit has just been released - what was different about putting together this EP than Your Dad's Opinion for Dinner?
Ruby: YDOFD was a little, angsty bedroom project I put together myself around the ages of 14 to 17, finally recording the songs at 18, and releasing them at 19. For most of this time the way I wrote music was while confined in my bedroom and didn't vary in many topics, mostly sticking to themes of puberty, school and rebellion. With PH, (I'd like to think) I've grown a little. I wrote most of these songs living out of home and while travelling on the road and dealing with more adult concepts. I've always said I want my pieces of work to be able to tell a story. Despite also undergoing some love woes, I never wanted to only write love songs. So, I've kept them all under wraps and maybe they'll get some light when I feel like it in future albums.
BYO: You've swapped from sneaking into festivals and gigs to headlining them, what's been your process of building up a live show?
Ruby: I wouldn't say we're at such a massive point yet, though we do pinch ourselves every day. The live show has undergone rigorous changes and personally I believe the key is your bandmates. Technicality aside, if you all like each other and know how to move a little on stage, your performance and show will be much more enjoyable.
BYO: How did starting off busking develop the sound that you've eventually settled on?
Ruby: I don't believe I've "settled" on a sound. I've gone from acoustic busking to electric punk/pop to a more melodic experiment with PH. I’m trying not to box myself in and explore more creative ideas.
BYO: Your rise has been pretty rapid - how do you deal with such a steep trajectory of recognition?
Ruby: I feel very conflicted about it. It's really cool that people enjoy your music enough to want to speak to you or grab a photo. But more often than not, they look at you as a funny story to tell their mates and often have a five second burst of something rude or dumb that they've gotten a video of or whatever. It can be really uncomfortable and disappointing. On the other hand, I really love talking to people who are genuinely passionate about music or want advice.
BYO: Your songs speak with a real honesty and openness - how do you channel your experiences into the lyrics you write?
Ruby: I think the answer lays in the question. I write experiences down, I come up with funny words or sentences around them, I match up rhymes and then make up a melody. Then I read it all back and see how it makes me feel to play it and if my bandmates like it. I've had a lot of time alone while growing up, travelling and recording to flesh out a song-writing technique. It's fun watching the 10 second stories and 45-minute set, but you don't often see a creative’s quiet moments, or their thought process.
BYO: What'd you do when you heard you were going to play Splendour?
Ruby: Easy - especially when finding out it was my dream time slot - I jumped around the room, got that tingly feeling in my head from good news and called my band, who all shared my excitement equally.
BYO: Where'd be your dream location to play live?
Ruby: Honestly, I'm not sure yet. So far for us the dream locations have been tiny, cosy venues. A beer garden, a quirky stage, friendly staff. Honest, humble places. In terms of festivals I guess maybe something fun in Europe?
If you missed getting tickets to Ruby Fields’s sold out shows at the Crowbar on Friday and Saturday, May 24 & 25 you can stream Permanent Hermit below: