Concert Spotlight: Interview with Ruth B.

Canadian Singer Continues To Make Magic on First Headlining Tour

You might not know Ruth B. by name, but you probably know her delightful piano tune “Lost Boy,” which was inspired by the ABC series “Once Upon A Time.”

Ruth first gained attention from Vine, posting tiny clips of her songs making her a phenomenon on the social platform. Edmonton native Ruth concludes her first headlining tour tonight, May 24 at Le Poisson Rouge, after releasing her debut album “Safe Haven” which was produced in full by Grammy-winning Joel Little (who produced Lorde’s debut record).

Ruth B.’s enchanting piano abilities and pure voice do not need any accompaniment; Ruth conveys so much in her words, in the way she spaces and times her phrases, in an inviting, angelic way. She soars with a bluesy inflection on new single “If This Is Love,” floats effortlessly over a mid-tempo hand-clap on the effervescent “Young” and the piano fantasy “In My Dreams” takes you into another universe. Ruth B. recently played the Today show, she is coming off three nominations for JUNO Awards in her home country of Canada where she won Breakthrough Artist of the Year and she has gone multi-platinum in several countries with her debut single.

Ruth was thrilled to speak with NYCMonthly.com as her U.S. headlining tour wraps about her first flight to New York over The Statue of Liberty, how she’s transitioned from a social star to a legitimate music star and she talked about the reality v. fantasy in her music…

Canada is not so different from the U.S. and there are so many artists breaking from your country now. What was it like coming from another country, opening for Alessia Cara at a place like Radio City Music Hall and the other major halls in other cities? 

Playing and opening for Alessia was so amazing. I think she’s one of my favorite current artists. Her and I are really similar with the music we make and we are around the same age, so I was really excited when I found out I was going to go on the road with her. And that was like my first tour ever. Her whole team and whole vibe was just awesome.

And what was it like playing such an iconic venue like Radio City?

Oh my gosh. It’s crazy because I think three months before that I was there watching Adele – my first time ever going to Radio City. My label hooked me up with an Adele ticket, and I was like, “Wow.” And I remember being there, and I thought to myself, “Maybe in like thirty, forty years I’ll play here.” Honestly. And then four months later they’re like, “Now you’re going to play at Radio City.” So it was pretty surreal. I think everyone, wherever you come from, you know that Radio City is an iconic venue. So, it was insane.

So your own debut is called “Safe Haven.” Is your safe haven your music? 

Yeah, for sure. I think over the past couple years, my life has gotten pretty crazy and absurd, but the one thing that has remained the same is my love for music. And any time I’m at a piano, that’s where I feel the most comfortable in myself.

You played the Today Show recently, and you’ve been to New York a bunch. What is a memory that stands out from one of your first trips to New York?

So many. I remember the very first time that my dad and I flew there, to record. It was the weirdest thing because our plane flew over The Statue of Liberty, and every other time I have not done that. Every other time I fly in, I’ve never seen it. And like two weeks before, I was in history class learning about The Statue of Liberty and the history behind it. And so I remember my first trip I was listening to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z, something sappy like that. And we flew over and I remember seeing The Statue of Liberty and being like, “Wow, I’m really here.” Because New York always seemed like Narnia to us. To kids from Edmonton it just doesn’t seem real. And so seeing it, I was like, “I’m really here,” and I’ll never forget how excited I was in that moment. And it’s true, it has this energy about it that’s different from any other place.

Your songs are quite delicate and personal. What song on the album would you consider to be the most personal and why?

I think the most personal one, is probably “If By Chance.” I remember the same night I had seen the Adele show, I was so blown away by how honest she was, and how she didn’t really hold anything back. And so when I went back to my hotel room, that’s when I wrote “If By Chance.” And I think it was something that I always wanted to say but I was a little too embarrassed. I think that’s what makes for the best music is when you’re kind of scared to share it.

There’s a magical essence to your voice, and a timeless element, the stories are powerful. Do you have a favorite fairytale character and if so why?

I love fantasy characters. Like my favorite series of all time was Harry Potter. So I love Dumbledore. He’s just always been my favorite from that series. Growing up I always loved books, and movies, and ideas that I can kind of lose myself in. It wasn’t real, but it felt real to me. And I think I’ve incorporated a lot of that into my songwriting. Just the idea of creating something that, you know, might not exist in reality.

What if you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

I would love to be able to read minds, but like only use it when I want to, but I wouldn’t want it to be on always. Because that might get rough. I’m not really very good at reading people. I’m actually terrible at it, and so I would love to have that.

What was the transition like from being a Vine star to a fully respected, signed artist? Was that an easy one for you, or did you feel like you had to prove yourself?

I think I was just really excited to be able to grow from Vine, but I definitely think there is a stigma for any kid who comes up with social media. It’s just you’re always “The Vine Girl,” or YouTube, whatever.

I always knew what I was capable of. I knew that I loved music and for me I just happened to share it in doses of six seconds, but I always knew that’s what I wanted to do. It’s cool, now that finally the album’s out, people are seeing more of me than just my six-second clips. And that there are full songs that I worked really hard on.

When you sit down at a piano, is there a certain song that sometimes, without even thinking about it, you just happen to play?

Almost always, when I play piano, I always start with “Let It Be” by The Beatles. Because it’s really good for your hands, just to play. And to sing it, it really stretches my voice. And I love the song.

What’s a 5-song playlist you would create right now for the subway?

When I used to take the train to school everyday, I listened to a lot of Coldplay, so “Paradise,” I love that song. Something by Lauryn Hill… “To Zion.” She’s my favorite. Maybe a Taylor Swift song like “Shake It Off” to shake off the bad morning vibes ’cause I’m tired. “Blackbird” by The Beatles is always a good train song. Then I need something upbeat, Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” has tempo and it’s fun.

Who might you enjoy singing a duet with one day? 

I would love to work with Stevie Wonder, he is one of my heroes. So even just being in the same room with him would be unreal. To see him sing and play the piano would be so crazy.

You are still a relatively young musician but you’ve probably been playing since you were single-digits, do you have any advice for young musicians?

Work ethic, always. No matter what level you’re at. You don’t have to be singing on a stage for 10,000 people to be successful. As long as you’re working towards something, that’s the best way to go about it, I think.