Images by Jess Farran; Styling by Haile Lidow @lidowarchive
In a recent exclusive interview and photoshoot for BlackBook, we got a peek into the world of burgeoning electropop singer/songwriter Ruby Amadelle – who has been better known as musical sidekick to her very famous brother and best friend Gus Dapperton. Speaking to her during the pandemic lockdown, it was immediately evident that her maturity, self-assurance and emotional depth significantly bely her youth. Further bearing that out, her debut album, the tellingly titled Raw, drops today—May 22.
We’re expecting great things from her.
What were the inspirations behind Raw?
I started creating this when I wrote “The Bleed” a few years ago and, I basically didn’t know what I was going to be doing for this project. I was just coming into adulthood, becoming aware of a lot of chaos and evil in the world, and was getting a bit discouraged. So, after a few traumatizing experiences, I wrote “The Bleed” to encompass how I felt. That’s why it’s so chaotic. From there, I wrote each song as I healed from those things. I ended out with “Raw,” the only love song I’ve written, and it’s directed toward myself and a person that gave me hope in the world again.
When we heard first heard “The Bleed,” on an iPhone, we thought it was a beautiful ballad; but then playing it on a soundsystem, it sounded more like a club banger. Should it make one feel sad or want to dance?
I wrote in the piano, and it just turned out to be this sad, very dark, intense song. Gus then asked, “Do we make it a bop or do we make a ballad?” And we decided “maybe a bop,” because that’s the perfect in between for everything it holds.
Who worked with you on this album?
The first few songs on the EP, “Not My Baby,” “The Bleed,” and “Hold Onto Myself,” I made completely with my brother. I collaborate with him most of the time because he’s my best friend, and he just understands what I want to do, and he’s an amazing producer. We sometimes co-write the songs. The last song “Raw” was produced by Godchild, he’s a good friend of ours and he made it sound beautiful and angelic, just the way I wanted it. For everything visual, I work with Jess Farran, [photographer, videographer and director], because she’s my creative director and totally gets the messages I’m trying to express. She brings them to life.
When you’re performing or creating do you tap into an alter ego? What is the source of creative energy for you?
I’m so open in expressing my feelings because emotions shouldn’t be left unsaid. This person is who I am in real life, so I don’t need an alter ego to get my message out. My music is just a way of writing letters to people about things that I never said. So once I write the song and put it out there, I can move on from those thoughts and feelings. Every song is a message to someone directly.
Is there a common theme you’re trying to get across?
All of my music focuses on femininity and how to represent it in different ways. Emotions are often seen as a weakness, but for me, if you can identify and really express your feelings, that’s the strongest force a human can have. I’m always trying to infuse feelings in my songs, and often times, they’re imperfect; they’re not exactly how you want them to be.
You’ve already performed in front of thousands of people with your brother.
I’ve been performing my whole life, and that’s what I always wanted to do. I never get nervous, it’s more of a feeling of excitement. Most of the time that I’ve been on stage in the past few years has been with my brother. I’m in his band, and when I’m on tour with him, I’m his keyboardist and background vocalist. I’ve always believed in my brother and his music so much, and I feel like I’m on stage being his number one fan. It’s one of those surreal things because I’m watching, but I’m also in it, getting to experience it with him. Our relationship is one of a kind. We’re telepathic: we understand each other without having to explain things.
What music do you like to listen to?
For the past year, I was obsessed with FKA Twigs. I also love Lana Del Rey, and Marina and the Diamonds, because I grew up listening to them. Marina was this anti-pop pop star, so I will always have a love for her. Lately, I’ve been listening to Mazzy Star, because it’s calming during this [pandemic] time. I think for the first month, I only listened to them.
Concerts have been largely cancelled due to the pandemic. Do you tentatively have dates for live performances being considered, or is it just ‘full stop, we’re taking a break?’
At this point I think that all tours are now being pushed to 2021, so we would be touring in the spring—which would be really awesome, because I miss traveling. I also want to take this time to just live, because that’s really where I get my inspiration. Living and not focusing on deadlines, trying to give myself that freedom to really experience things…even though it’s all really weird right now. I’m in a lucky position in that I can use this time to create freely.