INTERVIEW WITH RUBY FROST
Interview / Erica Russell
In 2012, New Zealand singer-songwriter Ruby Frost released her debut album ‘Volition‘ to critical acclaim. Rife with glistening synth-pop gems and indie/alt sensibilities, Ruby’s debut showcased a sense of raw creativity and earnest spirit that many artists labor for years to artificially produce. Now, two years later, Ruby Frost is ready to make a comeback, this time with an evolved sound that fuses her trademark crystalline synth soundscapes with the infectious indie pop stylings of – who else? – the Swedes.
This evolution is the result of Ruby’s almost year-long move to Sweden in which she experimented with local producers and soaked up the sonic inspiration around her in order to broaden her musical horizons. And broaden them she did. “Comeback Queen,” a contagious indie-pop jam about dusting oneself off after countless breakups, unveils the sort of cool, polished pop Ruby has been crafting in various Stockholm studios this past year, as well as a taste of what’s to come.
We chatted with Ruby about experimenting in Sweden, transitioning from Auckland to Stockholm, the musical direction of “Comeback Queen,” and what we can anticipate from her in the new year.
You’ve made quite a jump this past year from Auckland to Stockholm. What drew you to Sweden?
A lot of my favorite pop music comes from Sweden, and I had a contact at my publishing label there who was happy to introduce me to some songwriters. It was originally only going to be for a month, but I ended up spending 11 months in Stockholm! It feels like a second home now.
Can you take me through writing and recording your new single, “Comeback Queen”?
“Comeback Queen” was the first song I wrote when I got to Stockholm, with a writer called Harry Sommerdahl. I had most of the lyrics scrawled in my journal, and I remember sitting on the train before the session trying to pick which page of lyrics to use for that day. Harry was great, he helped condense melody ideas into much tighter, more succinct rhythmic packages. His beat was inspired by Neneh Cherry, and 90s sounds.
You’ve mentioned that the track is about previous relationships. Can you divulge a little on that?
I left New Zealand after the end of a three year relationship, and I’d also just finished working as a judge on the frantically busy New Zealand X Factor. I was completely burnt out and wanted to run away from everything and everyone. “Comeback Quee”n is about having to rebuild your life after everything is gone. I’d started thinking how I’d been dating guys for 10 years and still was having to rebuild; how you have to come back from each relationship. It’s a bit sarcastic, bragging about being the queen of break ups. But it’s also about being strong and making those comebacks work.
So the song is very Ruby Frost, of course, but also has quite a different sound and energy to it, which is exciting! Have you been experimenting?
Yea,h I’ve been expanding my horizons a lot. I’ve been recording myself a lot too, in a studio in Stockholm, and making beats and trying to fuse together my own sound. “Comeback Queen” is a lot more polished and pop sounding than my other stuff. I just wanted to learn from the Swedes and be more open to their pop sensibilities. But not all my new stuff is going to sound like “Comeback Queen”…
What are some big inspirations for you right now, either visually or aurally?
I’ve been listening a lot to the Beetlejuice soundtrack; that old Harry Belafonte stuff is golden. I love those Caribbean rhythms and melodies. Lykke Li’s live show in Stockholm was hugely inspiring, she’s got it. The Knife’s live show, from a visual perspective, was choreographed to perfection. Visually, going to Iceland inspired me a lot. And I pretty much seem to alternate between listening to Nina Simone and Yeezy depending on my mood.
Your debut, ‘Volition,’ was one of my favorite albums of the past few years! How is your sophomore album shaping up for you? What stages are you in?
Thank you! It’s getting there. I have almost 100 demos for the next project, but it’s hard to consolidate because it’s all pretty eclectic. I have songs like “Comeback Queen” which I’ve collaborated with people on, but I also have some mellower, moodier songs, which I want to be more minimal and self-produced. So right now I’m trying to find a way to piece it all together so that I can find a common thread through the songs.
Any plans for a tour in 2015?
I just want to find a way to get my new material out, and then I’ll get onto planning some shows.
What’s next for you, Ruby? What are you most excited for in the upcoming months?
I’m excited to be home in New Zealand for the summer, and then getting my teeth stuck into a plan to start releasing this new music.