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Q&A: Ruby Jones and her new single, ‘Feeling of Falling’

Interview by Molly McKew // Photography by Lilli Waters

I’ve been following Ruby Jones’ work for a number of years – initially seduced by Jones’ witchy 70s allure alongside a playful, glamorous maturity. Jones’ live shows are replete with folk-rock hooks and catchy vocals, an immersive, commanding experience. Jones is releasing her new single, ‘Feeling of Falling’ on February 2nd, a track written during Melbourne’s many lockdowns of 2020-2021 which reimagines Covid as an unreliable lover.

Jones began her professional musical journey with Clairy Browne and the Bangin Rackettes, exercising her vocal chords as a backing singer in the band. After a tour in 2015, the band broke up, and Jones started out on her own. She began songwriting with Jules Pascoe (Husky, Jazz Party, Jaala) and has since been producing 1970s style folk-rock with layers of psychedelia, magic, and femininity providing a unique and contemporary varnish. In 2021 Jones released ‘The Woman who Loves you’, a track that quickly gained radio play on Triple J, Double J, ABC, RRR and PBS, and followed this up with an album of the same title, for which she was a runner up in the Darebin Fuse Songwriting award.

Her latest release ‘Feeling of Falling’ is fairly upbeat for a song inspired by a global pandemic. Its catchy melody and harmonies conjure a wistful yearning; the hook “you don’t love me, you just love the feeling of falling”, an unfortunately relatable sentiment. The melty and rich backing vocals give a nostalgic, American road trip movie montage feel. Jones’ vocals are impressive: strong and searing, showcasing her extensive vocal training and experience, but tender and intimate when they need to be. The track is a sadly-rollicking and evocative treasure.

Ahead of her launch show at the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood on March 3rd, Melbourne, I asked Ruby a few questions about the release.

Hi Ruby! Wondering if you could tell me about the writing process – i.e. how is writing about a metaphorical relationship different to writing about something that has happened to you personally?

Songwriting wise this song was written in much the same way that I wrote my last record, in that I co-wrote it with my guitarist and long time collaborator Jules Pascoe. He writes the instrumentation and I write the lyrics and melody. I love co-writing. It’s pretty much how I create all the music I make these days. It was really fun to write a fictionalised break-up song because my last album was so personal and so autobiographical. This song still feels personal but it’s a lot less full of heartache and angst and drama drama drama – which makes it more enjoyable to perform as I’m not constantly revisiting those dark places I had to go into to write my first record.

Does re-imagining Covid as a lover rather than writing about it literally mean you can access a deeper understanding of how the covid lockdowns of that time affected you?

So many musicians are now releasing the music they wrote in lockdown — and how can you not be affected by that time as an artist? Our industry was so uniquely shaken by the pandemic. I was conscious that I didn’t want to just write literally about the experience of isolation because let’s be honest we’re all sick to death about talking about lockdown – especially Melbournians! But I wrote lots of songs about that period in my life. The way I liked to think about it was as if the pandemic was a visual centrepiece.  I wanted to write about everything else around it, the negative space so to speak. I didn’t want to speak to it so directly. I’m not sure if I understand it any better but I think we (my band and I) have at least made something beautiful from it.

Do you usually write about things that have happened directly to you, or do you tend to write about imagined or more abstract scenarios/ideas?

Normally I am an incredibly direct and honest writer, I always write about my own life and feelings and I try to write from a place that other listeners can get something from it. But this collection of songs are a lot more abstract because I was writing them in isolation and there wasn’t a whole lot to draw from in my personal life. For instance, I’ve written about airplanes because I live underneath a flight path and was constantly watching planes from my porch and wondering “who is flying whilst we’re all stuck here?” I’ve also written songs about watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer. My mother moved into a remote country town during lockdown and sent an actual truck load of my possessions and teenage relics back to my current flat – so I’ve written about being a seventeen year old in St Kilda. In lockdown isolation it felt like there was no moving forward, so my only option as a writer was to look back and mine memories and ghosts for songs.

And final question – what is next after this single? Do you have an album coming out and are you excited about that? What can we expect from it?

We will be releasing a full album eventually! Before that, I suspect I’ll be releasing a few more stand alone tracks off the record. This record is a progression (sonically and lyrically) from our last release, The Woman Who Loves You. I think it’s a gentler approach musically and even with some of the more uptempo songs the production is lighter. I was listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell, early David Bowie and Weyes Blood whilst writing the lyrics so I think there’s a lot more baroque pop and 1970s folk music influence on this one – there is still a big psychedelic rock n roll presence though and lots and lots of backing vocals!

Ruby Jones and her band will be launching the release at the Gasometer upstairs on March 1st. Tickets here. Follow Ruby Jones on Facebook and Instagram.

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