Interview: Ruby Boots

Photo credit: Cal Quinn

Music was something that kept trying to catch up with me, even from a young age,” recalls Australian alt-country songcrafter Ruby Boots. Things became rocky in the singer’s life after about 13 years old; at age 19, she needed to get out of the city and figure out life, so she ventured to the local truck stop, and hitched a ride to Broome, a town on the west coast of Australia to work on a pearling farm. “I got a friend a job out on the farm, and we were out at sea. He was playing some songs on the back deck of the houseboat, and I started singing along. He said, ‘Man, you can really say in a little bit,’ and it just kind of progressed from there,” she adds. “I started teaching myself guitar out at sea and I just couldn’t put it down.”

A chance encounter at a festival in Perth inspired her to venture to the Music City.”I met a tour manager from the South, from around Nashville; we were talking backstage and he was putting me on some really cool bands that he thought I might like–one of them was Carrie Ann Hearst,” she explains. “I kept digging from there; I knew a little bit about the history of Nashville through country music. It did seem like such a faraway place, but the stuff he was telling me about made it like a real place.” She began making regular trips in 2012 and relocated to Nashville in 2016. “I love living in Nashville. I’d been happy bouncing around from city to city, I didn’t really have an address,” she reveals. “Nashville was the first place that made that impression on me in my life. I’m pretty happy there, it’s such a great city. There’s a hum of being able to make things happen, on any kind of level.”

In February, Ruby Boots released her new album, the critically-acclaimed Don’t Talk About It, via Bloodshot Records; rather than dusty road songs operating within the lines of an Americana-colored lane, Don’t Talk About It delivers an electric shock, an amplifier cranked to eleven, fuzzed-out guitars, and a swerve to the other side of the anticipated path. The album, her second, was inspired by a culmination of life experiences, one of which highlights her experience as a woman in this world. “That particular song was actually written well and truly before the #MeToo movement,” she says of “I Am A Woman. “It’s very interesting because the record came out around the time; I’m not trying to say like ‘I wrote this before the #MeToo movement was even happening,’ but the fact of the matter is, I wrote this before the movement was happening. I’m calling on inspiration from when I was 17, 18, 19, before the #MeToo movement was happening, but it totally relates. The reason why I point that out is because of the longevity of inspiration, which is the sad thing,” she explains. “It’s coming from a place of ‘I’m still dealing with this and it’s still having to be voiced.’ It came from a place of hearing things about women’s bodies that made me feel utterly powerless.”

“Often, you have to approach a piece of art in a way that allows people to come in and think about something differently than they would originally think about something. I could have written an angry retort and just spoken to the people that were already with me on the subject, and then all that would have achieved is just allowing the people who already think exactly like me to relate to that,” she says, alluding to the plain-spoken nature of the song. “You need someone that might not see something quite the way that you would hope that they would and hopefully invite them in. People that already understand just get to enjoy and bathe in the beauty of what I’m saying,” she continues. “I feel like that was that was the real win from that song.”

[Ruby Boots is currently on tour supporting the release of Don’t Talk About It; she will appear at Nashville’s Basement East on May 18th, before touring the southeast and midwest. Click HERE for tickets and show information.]

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Susan Hubbard

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