Ruth-Anne’s journey has been nothing short of inspirational. The risks taken to pursue a dream, the courage to do so at such a young age, and the drive to push past setbacks can be seen as an insight into her character, whilst songwriting credits for the likes of Britney Spears, JoJo, Bebe Rexha, and Niall Horan emphasises the quality of her craft. Now, with her debut single ‘The Vow’, Ruth-Anne is here to invite you into her life and let you know who she is.
Could you tell me a bit about moving to Los Angeles, the difficulties, and why you wanted to move there?
From the moment I watched Grease 2 when I was 8, I’ve always wanted to go to LA. I kept on telling my parents, “I’m going to move to LA and live there because that’s where I’m going to be a singer/songwriter”. I knew that’s where the hub of where a lot of music came out from and where a lot of writers and producers were. I first went when I was 17, straight out of high school, and was brought there by a manager who used to manage The Script. I didn’t move there straight away, I was going back and forth every other month. It was very lonely, as it was the first time I’d spent time away from my parents and it was a whole new culture, new humour, new food, everything was different.
Also, because I was 17, I couldn’t drink I couldn’t drive and it was very hard to simply get about because there wasn’t any regular public transport and it wasn’t that safe to just go out alone. So yeah, I hated it initially, I found everybody delusional and strange. However, the JoJo song started to take off, so, as I got older and stayed there longer I was able to do more, I could drive to places, drink, and it held me build a small friendship group which made the experience a whole lot better. I eventually ended up really enjoying the lifestyle and the culture and after a while, I genuinely felt like I had a life there.
You’ve written a lot of massive hits, some certified Gold, and some Multi-platinum. Did seeing how far your songwriting talents have taken certain artists, make you want to take centre stage even more?
Yeah, to be honest, I think I’ve always been a singer first, the writing came when I was 7 & 8 and it was a way for me to express whatever I was watching on TV. The writing was a way for me to recreate everything I saw, I never thought that it would be a job, it was just something that I loved doing. I didn’t even realise that you could be a songwriter without being a singer, I thought the two came together. So, when I heard that so many artists didn’t write their songs I was like “what?!”. A lot today’s stars started off as songwriters and I feel as if it adds a more depth to your journey as an artist.
Who were your main musical inspirations growing up?
Well, I grew up in Ireland, so my mum and dad had me listening to Leonard Cohen, Carole King, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, all of the great singer-songwriters. Then my sister put me on to Michael Jackson, Madonna, New Kids On The Block, Lauryn Hill, Usher, Alicia Keys, Aaliyah, and a massive influence was definitely Destiny’s Child. A lot of my harmonies are inspired by 90’s R&B, but at the same time I still loved Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, so I think I really love the mix of story and soul.
Do you have to put yourself into a particular setting or mindset when you write?
I write about real things, so I have to be in a mental space where I’m ready to be vulnerable, and if I’m with an artist, I have to be ready to be a therapist and kind of pull their stories out of them, so that way I can write something that they really believe in. So, it’s really about being in a space where you’re ready to have those open and vulnerable conversations. I have to be very good at making people feel comfortable quickly, but as an artist, that role flips as I have to be the vulnerable one, as the honesty is what keeps the music authentic.
So, The Vow is your first release. Tell me a bit about that song and the inspiration behind it?
At the time, I had just left LA and I was going through so much s*** with stupid celebrity flings and these Hollywood boys who don’t know how to treat a woman, the way they date over in LA is shockingly scary. So, I started the process being very heartbroken, but throughout the year that I wrote the album it went from heartbreak to hopeful, and then to love. I started feeling happy again and found love in all sorts of different things. Also, I had this friend who was also an artist and we were really good friends who kind of had feelings for each other but decided not to be together as we were a long distance apart. He was the most consistent man in my life, always calling me purely to see how I was and nothing else, he had no agenda and I needed a relationship like that, it felt very loving.
Then I was talking about my parents who were married for 43 years, we discussed the journey they’ve been on, then he said to me “when we’re 80 we’ll be in Ireland singing together”. I woke up that night and wrote nearly all of the lyrics to The Vow. It all really stemmed from the consistency of a man in my life that wasn’t with me and isn’t my husband, but still made me feel like it’s not about sex, he genuinely cares about me.
With songs like The Vow, it allows you to be very transparent, but you’re also letting people see your vulnerability. So, do you feel nervous at all when you’re putting the track out for the world it hear?
A few years ago I would’ve been terrified, but nowadays no. People need the real. The reason why artists like Amy Winehouse or Lauryn Hill worked is because they just told you the real s*** that was going on. If I was to do an album where I was just trying to get radio play and be Pop then I could be a Popstar, but that’s not who I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m an open book.
Who would be your dream collaboration to co-write and perform a song with?
If I had to pick one female artist it’d be Lauryn Hill. She could rap and I’d do the hook, that’d be a perfect marriage. Picking a male is so hard because it’s between Stevie Wonder and Bruno Mars. Stevie is legendary, but I think I’m going to go with Bruno because right now, I see him as someone who will be a future icon, I absolutely love his whole vibe.
You’ve been doing music since you were 17, so I can only imagine the invaluable experience you’ve garnered over the years. What’s the best advice you’d give someone (particularly a woman) who wants to take that step into the music industry at a young age?
The first piece of advice is to have great people around you, people you can trust. Move forward with that team because no one can do it all alone, you’ll make mistakes and might get with the wrong teams, but you just have to learn from it.
I’ve definitely signed bad deals, but I learned from it, and I feel like once you find good people, the type of people that are passionate about you, you’re taking the right steps. Also, put in the work, work on your craft, put in the 10,000 hours, don’t be in a rush to be a Grammy award winner, because everyone has their own journey. These days it’s easy to compare yourself with other people and their progress, but it doesn’t matter, we all have our own path, so the main thing is to get your head down, work hard, be somebody that people want to be in the room with and have a good reputation.
When I was younger a lot of people would say “use your sexuality more! Sleep with this person”, which is the worst advice to give to a female, because you don’t need to do that to move forward, just let your talent speak for itself and always keep your eye on the craft, not the money or the fame, just the craft.
RuthAnne’s debut single “The Vow” is out now
Photographer: Vitalij Sidorovic
Stylist: Nicolas L. Joseph
Makup/ Hair Stylist: Michelle Leandra