RuthAnne has gone from penning hits like JoJo’s “Too Little Too Late” and Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” to branching into her own solo career – catch our exclusive conversation of how it all went down.
Dublin-born, London-based babe RuthAnne is a triple threat as an amazing singer, songwriter and producer that has ranged in her career from penning chart-topping hits like JoJo’s “Too Little Too Late” and Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” from an early age, to finally breaking out to embark upon her own solo journey. Yes, the process has been a rollercoaster of challenges met and surmounted, only to see her dishing out her very best work, from an impressively industrious yet wholly authentic heart space.
Her latest release is a track called “Unrequited”, a robust neosoul tune that tells the story of getting lost in love with someone who’s just not that into you, or vice versa. The tune, like most of RuthAnne’s music, feels like a positively free-flowing R&B jam that could easily belong to a classic generation of soul singers like Mary J Blige, Alicia Keys, Aaliyah and more. Take a listen to the song, fresh off the press below, and catch our equally tasty exclusive convo. We chatted about RuthAnne’s personal background, her musical career and her thoughts on the #metoo movement.
Hey RuthAnne! What’s your personal background/origin story?
I’m RuthAnne, singer/songwriter/producer and I come from Dublin, Ireland. I’ve been writing and singing since I can remember. I grew up in Dublin, then at seventeen, I was brought to LA, started my journey as a songwriter, co-wrote some hits for other artists and then embarked on my own solo career last year and my debut album is being released end of October.
What lead you to pursue music?
I was always so obsessed with music. I was always singing, studying singers… I started writing songs from the age of seven, teaching myself piano from age twelve.
Who are some of your biggest influences, past to present?
As a kid, I was so influenced by Carole King, James Taylor, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Whitney, Celine, and as I got older, Alicia Keys, Brandy, Jill Scott, Beyoncé, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Jeff Buckley, Coldplay, Etta James, Aretha Franklin… all the greats really.
When it comes to songwriting, how are you finding inspiration these days?
Living. Living is always the most inspiring thing to do to write songs. Experiencing the moments, the conversations that lead you to write about them. I talk a lot, but I also listen way more. I observe people, I really take in what they say and I write down things people say. I’m very in tune with my own feelings so fusing all of that together, I try to write the most universal lyrics and songs that can really connect with people.
What’s the story behind your single, “Superman”?
‘Superman’, I wrote a few years ago before the #metoo movement. It was about me realizing I was in some toxic relationships with male music mentors, Hollywood boys I dated… For me, it was an empowering anthem which gave me the strength to walk away from men in powerful positions taking advantage of me and abusing their power.
How would you describe your experience in the music industry this far? Having ranged from a prolific pop writer early on, to your solo career now?
Wow, have you got all day? Lol, it’s a rollercoaster ride. It’s up and down, it’s fast and slow, it’s hurry up! and wait. It’s not secure, it’s unpredictable, you’re fighting to keep your spot all the time – ha – but it’s a rollercoaster I keep hopping back on because the highs are so worth it and lows are just part of it and you learn to handle the disappointments. What I’ve loved this year is getting to write for/with other artists in the studio and also be on the road performing and releasing my own music. It feels like the best of both worlds and I’m so grateful I get to do what I love everyday.
What is the music industry like for women right now, do you think?
I think it’s a good time. There are so many women in music doing amazing things – I think women in the music industry are really awesome and very importantly, starting to support each other and lift each other up. It used to definitely be the opposite and it’s so nice to see that change. We’ve still a ways to go, but I think we’re on the right track. The fact that there is more awareness around it is definitely gonna help things a lot.
Any thoughts or insights as it relates to the #metoo movement?
I think the #metoo movement is so important to raise awareness around what has been happening in so many industries of power and money for too long. I was, in fact, encouraged as a young adult to ‘sleep with music executives’ by an ex-manager whose exact words were ‘you need to use your sexuality more and flirt more and make them think you will sleep with them’ or ‘sleep with them, everyone does it to get ahead’. I never ever did that and I never understood it. I always let the music speak and my talent speak first and I truly stand by that. I’ve had my own #metoo moments in the music industry and it’s not something yet that I feel the need to talk about in details. I think women who have come forward to share their #metoo stories are so brave. I choose to heal in private for now and when I feel it’s the right time, I will talk about it then.
What about your latest single, “Unrequited”. How did it all come together?
I had been in a few little dating patterns where either the guy really liked me and I wasn’t into him or the guys I really liked weren’t into me. So the concept of ‘Unrequited’ came from that. I thought it was interesting to talk about it from the two perspectives because I think we all break hearts or get heartbroken until we find the one. I wrote a lot of the lyrics down before the session – I usually do that once I find a title or concept – I have 90% of the lyrics done before I bring it into a room and I wait ’tilI I hear chords that suit the lyrics. So I met Noah Breakfast and we were talking about Jill Scott’s album and the Philly neosoul movement in the early 00’s like Jasmine Sullivan and Musiq Soulchild and how much we both loved that music. He just started playing chords and I immediately grabbed my phone and scrolled back to the ‘Unrequited’ lyrics I’d written – I grabbed the mic and started singing the melody and he was like, ‘Woah what’s that’ and I said, ‘Press record and I’ll just sing what I’m feeling’ and I sang the verses and then we just built the song from there. It was very quick and as we got to the bridge part, I’ve always wanted to sample the Jackie Wilson ‘To Be Loved’ song, and I thought it fit perfectly with the concept, so I did it, and I’m glad we got to keep it in the song. It’s one of my faves that I’ve written and I just loved the entire process. The bass is my fave part of the music. Noah played it live, just sitting down and I sang the song sitting. It was really chill and vibey and soulful and those are my favorite writing sessions.
Your vocals on this track are bomb. What’s the most important thing to keep in mind as a vocalist? Either in the studio or just in every day life?
Aww, thank you so much! I just sing my heart out and tell the story. I think the job of a vocalist and what makes a great vocalist is singing the story and making the listener believe it. The emotion, the raw feeling in a vocal take is what I like. Being technically great is cool but it’s how you get the emotion across and for this song I wanted it to feel like a stream of consciousness just falling out of my mouth and as the song gets more intense lyrically, the vocal does. Singing with feeling is my main tip and singing from the right place in your voice so that you’re not straining or hurting your vocal chords. Vocal care is a big thing for me – I’m a bit of a vocal nerd. I drink a lot of water and take days where I don’t speak. Being a vocalist is like being an athlete and you have to train it, rest it, look after it so I’m very disciplined when it comes to my voice.
Are there any challenges you have faced, personal or professional, that made you grow or develop in a big way?
I think any time I was rejected or told ‘no’ or wasn’t believed in really made me grow as a person in this profession and fight back, get better and do better. Also, living away from home was a massive growth period. Being in LA on my own with all my family and loved ones back in Europe was a big change. I became very independent and learned a lot about myself during those years.
So, what’s next for you?
Next is a summer of performing at festivals around Europe. Finishing my debut album for release in end of September. The single called ‘Unrequited’ [out today] and some exciting features in the pipeline, so lots happening. Come follow me @thisisruthanne on Instagram for more updates!
Any parting words of wisdom to women and girls, from a seasoned professional in the music industry?
Trust the process, practice your craft, be prepared at all times, ‘cos when that moment of luck or opportunity comes, you want to be able to take it and run with it. Don’t compare yourself to others because everyone’s journey is different – stay true to your authentic self and never give up.