Multi-platinum star Ruth B. opens up on her stellar new album Moments In Between06/25/2021
“I really had the opportunity to explore parts of my mind that maybe I wouldn’t if I wasn’t in quarantine”, reveals Ethiopian-Canadian singer songwriter Ruth B. when breaking down the creation of her new album Moments In Between. “When you have that much time with yourself, all you can really do is think.”
The global pandemic has presented challenges and positives for artists. While live music may have had its plug pulled as a result of worldwide lockdowns, musicians have been able to thrive with precious, newfound time at their disposal.
For Ruth B., the unfolding situation saw her move from New York City back to her home in Alberta, Canada, to focus on the follow-up to her much lauded debut album Safe Haven.
The result is the stunning, Patrick Wimberly-produced sophomore Moments In Between; a raw and personal collection that details themes of romance, self-growth, uncertainties, and her Ethiopian heritage over a luscious sonic palette of hypnotic pop, woozy R&B and guitar-driven tracks.
“I make songs that sound different”, Ruth told Daily Star. “I also feel like that it’s honest to my life. Life’s just never one thing, you’re here, you’re there. There are emotions of all sorts. I like to explore and I love different sounds.”
The multi-platinum starlet broke through with her 2017 debut, the gold-certified Safe Haven which featured the huge viral hit Lost Boy – a Peter Pan-inspired piano ballad.
Moments In Between represents a new chapter for Ruth B., an 11-track snapshot of an artist not giving in to creative boundaries and thriving in her limitless potential as she delves into emotion-fuelled, honest songwriting.
“When I’m writing a song I really try to write as honestly as I can”, she adds. “It’s a method of therapy for me. It enables me to get issues off my chest or whatever it might be.”
Daily Star’s Rory McKeown caught up with Ruth B. from her Alberta home to talk about Moments In Between’s creation, its raw and honest themes, influences, and her evolution.
Hi Ruth. How’ve the past few months been for you? How’ve you navigated the pandemic as an artist? Have there been any challenges to overcome?
“It’s definitely been different. In terms of making music it’s really changed everything. Before the pandemic I was living in New York and for the most part recording and writing out there. When the pandemic hit I decided to come back home to Alberta. It was definitely a culture shock.
“Ultimately it was nice for me because it brought me back to my roots in terms of writing by myself and fro home with my own keyboard. It was challenging but in a way I’m glad in terms of what it did for my music.”
You’ve released your new album Moments In Between via Downtown Records. When did the writing and recording process begin?
“The very first song I wrote for it was probably 2018. I started working on it early 2019 when I moved to New York. I finished it at the end of last year from home quarantine here in Alberta."
What did you do differently this time compared to Safe Haven?
“Safe Haven I wrote pretty much all by myself here in Canada. This one I was really open to collaborating with other people.
"At first that was a really daunting thing for me. Music has always been so intimate and personal for me to write. I decided to try it out. I wanted to do something new and explore and expand my level of creativity.
"It ended up being so incredible to get into the studio with other likeminded and super, super talented writers.”
Would you say you learned a lot with this album?
“Definitely. Every time I go into a session I always say I try to be like a sponge and absorb everything going on around me.”
Lyrically it’s a raw and honest account, with songs about new romance in Holiday, seeking refuge from the chaos of modern life in Sweet Chamomile, and you also explore your Ethiopian heritage. What’s it like as a songwriter tackling personal subject matters? You’re quoted as saying “writing songs has always been therapeutic”. Was this even more evident during the writing of Moments In Between?
“It’s a great question. For me writing has always been the equivalent for journal writing. The only difference being I put it out into the world and other people hear it.
"When I’m writing a song I really try to write as honestly as I can. It’s a method of therapy for me. It enables me to get issues off my chest or whatever it might be.
"Maybe when I first started writing I would be scared of going on different subjects, or there were some things I didn’t want to talk about. With more time and experience, the more vulnerable and honest you are, the better the song is going to be.”
From a personal level does it make you feel better as well writing these songs down?
“Absolutely. Again, it’s so therapeutic. I would always say that when I write songs and put them out, the whole thing I want is for other people to feel less alone. When someone listens to my songs I want them to know they’re not alone or that someone else has gone through what they’re going through.
"That applies to me as well. When I put something out about something I’ve been through and someone else is able to connect to say they’ve been through the same thing, it’s beneficial for me.”
It must be powerful to know listeners are resonating with your music.
“For sure. It’s crazy, it still doesn’t feel real, that something I make can move someone in that way or make them feel so connected to me. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
As a youngster, you’d create these story books that you’d give to your mum. Do you think these stories and this creativity helped set you on a path as a songwriter? Do you still delve into this “story mindset” when writing now?
“Especially when I first started writing music, I loved telling a story. There were a lot of other songs I wrote that I never put out. I loved writing about characters, about having problems and a solution, having that background of fantasy and storytelling.
"Even today it’s something I try to incorporate in my music. I try to keep it honest and real to my life.”
What’s it like seeing songs blossom from their initial ideas to their final form?
“It’s a really gratifying process. It’s so cool seeing certain songs start as really small, quiet piano ideas and then evolve into these grand, mighty-sounding songs. It’s amazing.
"You really become close with the songs when you work with them for so long. Some of these songs I’ve been living with since I was 21. You grow connected to them. It’s the best being able to put them out in the world and see how other people feel about them.”
Sonically you touch upon a variety of sounds, from the acoustic wonder of Spaceship, to the huge opening ballad of the piano-driven opener Princess Peach, to the hypnotic pop of Die Fast. Do you enjoy delving into different soundscapes to your output?
“I think so. For me as a music listener, I listen to any and every genre. I love music. I try not to limit myself to what I listen to. I think I feel the same way about my art. I think it’s great to have a niche and your thing but for me it doesn’t work that way. I make songs that sound different.
"I also feel like that it’s honest to my life. Life’s just never one thing, you’re here, you’re there. There are emotions of all sorts. I like to explore and I love different sounds.
“In the beginning I used to beat myself up like ‘I have to find a genre’ and ‘I have to fit perfectly’. Now I think I’m, more than ever, just going to make music that sounds good to me and hope it works!”
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What was influencing you during the creation of Moments In Between – either musically or personally?
“With this particular album, just because I did more than half of it in lockdown, I feel like I lived so heavily with the songs. The other album, I was at least doing stuff and living a normal life. But with this one, it was just me in my room, doing Zoom sessions 24 hours a day.
"I became so consumed with the music. The main influences were really just my inner, inner thoughts. I really had the opportunity to explore parts of my mind that maybe I wouldn’t if I wasn’t in quarantine.
"When you have that much time with yourself, all you can really do is think. I spent a lot of times with these songs and a lot of time in my head. In the music, there’s a lot of inner thoughts that probably wouldn’t have made it on to the album if I continued living in New York and having that normal life.”
Will you take aspects from this process on to your next material or will you go down a different avenue?
“If I’m being honest, I haven’t thought about anything after this! I feel like now I’ve put it out, I don’t want to make songs for a little while. That’s a little bit of what I did after Safe Haven, which is why there was a four year gap between album one and two. It’s really important to get out of that mindset a little bit. Which is so hard, especially for me. I feel like I’m constantly writing. Live life a little bit and then come back to it and feel renewed and whatnot.”
It was executively produced by Patrick Wimberly, who’s worked with the likes of Beyonce, Solange and Blood Orange. What did he bring to your sound?
“Patrick is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. We met when I was living in New York. We wrote the song Dirty Nikes together. I knew I wanted him to be heavily involved in this album.
“I feel so lucky he was able to do this. It was such a unique process again. Although a lot of the album we did via Zoom and FaceTime, it was an interesting process but he made it really easily and honestly a lot of fun. He’s so easy to work with and so collaborative in the fact that he’s so down for whatever. That’s a really beautiful quality that’s sometimes hard to find – someone who just listens and wants your ideas and input at the forefront of the music. He did such an excellent job.”
There must have been less pressure on yourself being allowed to express yourself as an artist…
“For sure. I think even just in general between this album and the last, people always say your second album is the one you feel the most pressure but I think for me that was definitely my first, because I was following up such a big song like with Lost Boy. It was a lot of pressure and weight for me.
"With this one I made a point that I was just going to enjoy this, I’m going to travel and have fun, and write songs out of that.”
Do you think Moments In Between represents a perfect snapshot of where you are right now as an artist?
“Yep. Exactly. I keep saying that to everyone, I think it’s such a great representation of who I am as an artist, as a person, and my development in songwriting.”
What’s next for you, Ruth? Do you have a vision of where you want to go?
“I think one I know for sure is that I don’t want to take four year for my third album. Hopefully I’ll get started on that at least a year from now.
“For now I want to see where life takes me. I definitely hope to travel again soon. For me, that’s the best thing. It always enriches my mind, the songs and everything.
“For now, working on an album in the future, and definitely, definitely tour early 2022 would be incredible.”
Ruth B’s Moments In Between is out now via Downtown Records / The Orchard
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