W.A.’s Ruby Boots’ bold and unafraid music doesn’t hide from what she wants and doesn’t care who knows it. Just like the characters in her songs, where life and love are serious matters, it’s a case of get on board or get out of the way. For principal singer and songwriter Bex Chilcott its all drive, and the coarse edges of raw musical passion haven’t been buffed off, but embraced as her music rings more true to herself than ever. Her somewhat cowboy mouth rolls out banter with the heart-warming charm of a drunken Irishman. This is not cookie cutter country music dressed for outback B&S balls. Ask her about such things and she’d likely suggest you should just remove the ampersand and you’d be close to the mark.
Adding her flair to the Australian Americana/Alt Country scene for some years now, and doing so with a world of style and sass, its no wonder she has become one of the leading go to talent for like minded artists when they come and tour Australia. Show after show she has received accolades, nabbing coveted support spots with Shaky Graves / Shovels & Rope and Tony Joe White this year. Her signing with Lost Highway Records Australia, and most recently her gong for West Australian Music (WAM) Country Song of The Year Award with single ‘Wrap Me In A Fever’, confirm that Ruby Boots star is clearly on the rise.
We are delighted she agreed to offer up her Savvy Seven tips for musicians and their teams. It’s a damn good read. Get into it!
· Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
Janis Joplin, because she was the first person who I had ever heard sing from the pits of her soul, I was 16 and after hearing the album “Pearl” and that emotion that pushed out of the speakers, I always knew from that moment on, that I was understood as a person through that music and that I would someday sing songs that I hope could give someone else that feeling somehow.
· How did you get started in music and did you ever even think you’d get this far?
Well I started playing music when I was working out at sea as a deckhand on Pearling farms, the nights were very still and oftentimes lonely and the work during the long days was heavy lifting and physically demanding so I started singing along with a friend who’d played guitar out on the front deck at nights. He taught me a few chords and from there, 6 months later, I started writing and playing in my lunch breaks and after work in the evenings every day and night. I’d never really imagined I would be where I was today when I first started playing at 22 out at sea, but I did know at that point that the feeling of needing to write and create was never going to leave me after the fact. I find it difficult to celebrate my wins, I am forever looking forward, so a couple of times a year I make myself think about if five years prior I would think that I’d be playing the kinds of shows I am now or doing whatever I am doing at that moment, and its always a hell no, so that always puts a smile on my face and warms me up and brings me back into the moment.
· What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
I think it was making my first album right after my regular band at the time had broken up, working with four producers and a combination of 7 bands over the course of the recording process for it was a huge learning curve for me, processing deep wells of self doubt and loss of trust in myself at times to coming back to that place of self trust, that’s been the most defining moment. I never really considered myself to be an artist until I had that album done, but things have changed since then, so defining is probably a fitting way of putting the process, that and opening for Kris Kristofferson!
· How has your music practice changed over time?
I think the most prominent thing that has changed is my vocal practice, about 8 or 9 years ago I was diagnosed with vocal nodules and had to take close to three years off singing, I went through the very arduous process of getting rid of them naturally without an operation for fear of it scaring my vocal chords, I was left with a polyp on my vocal folds and had non evasive laser surgery after all of that. I used to spend a lot of time learning how not to damage my voice with technique lessons and speech therapy, now after years of working on improving my technique I am able to practice how to use my voice the way I want to and instead of dreading my vocal lessons, after everything I’ve done with them I now get super excited about learning more about the voice, its a total 180 and the rabbit hole I dive into, learning more and more about it is now a blast.
My top business tip for new artists is…
Work your ass off and know your business! The reality is, if you want fans you have to be improving craft all the time, you need to be playing in front of people as much as you can and if you want to progress to get to a certain level where you have people in your corner that help you succeed by working in the background for you then you have to do a whole lot of work yourself before those people stick their hands up to do so. Know your art and do it well, work hard to get it out there and good things will come of that, create your own luck because there are those at the top point of the pyramid that have huge successes “overnight”, but for the rest of us, we have to work really hard for it. Oh and enjoy every f$%&n’ minute of it!
· My biggest career mistake has been…
Being scared of making mistakes! I think fear can be crippling, making mistakes is the best thing you can do, even if you don’t know that at the time, the lesson lingering in your future will show why so at the right time, The old adage of what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger is something that really applies in the music industry, sometimes if you don’t make mistakes you’ll never know what not to do next time or how to do something differently that works better for you.
· In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
“Everything is free now… that’s what they say”. The lack of respect for the effort that goes into making music, I know, I know … it’s almost age old now, but it still makes me really sad that people aren’t paying for music anymore, I see all those fickle comparisons on how much people are prepared to spend on cups of coffee every day and the like but yet aren’t prepared to pay for a record, I am both a coffee and music addict myself, and by no means am I kidding myself that it will turn around to prehistoric / pre internet times, the streaming age is here to stay, but in my eyes, not paying for music is still a huge issue and one that has some kind of relevance to a certain degree even today.
Go check out Ruby Boots on tour somewhere around the country or even OS if that’s where you are:
RUBY BOOTS “I MISS YOU ALREADY” 2016 TOUR
Sat 30 Jan, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne, VIC w/ The Waifs
Tue 2 & Wed 3 Feb, Capitol Theatre, Tamworth NSW w/ The Waifs
Thu 4 Feb, Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre NSW w/ The Waifs
Sat 6 Feb, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW w/ The Waifs
Fri 19 – Sun 21 Feb, Riverboats Festival, Echuca, VIC
Sat 20 Feb, White Night Festival, Melbourne, VIC
Thu 10 Mar, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
(support acts Big Smoke; Time Easton (USA); Millar Jukes, Emilee South)
Fri 11 – Mon 14 Mar, Port Fairy Folk Festival, VIC
Thu 17 Mar, The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
(support act Hana Brenecki)
Fri 18 Mar, Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
(support acts James Thomson; and Belle Harvey)
Sat 19 Mar, The Milk Factory Brisbane, QLD
(support act Jen Mize)
Sun 3 Apr, The Astor Theatre, Perth, WA w/ Taj Mahal
Fri 26 Feb, Miri Country Music Festival, Borneo
Sat 27 Feb, Miri Country Music Festival, Borneo
Sun 24 Apr, The City Winery, Nashville TN
Wed 27 Apr, The Ark, Ann Arbor MI
Fri 29 Apr, Birchmere, Alexandria VA
Sun 1 May, Rams Head, Annapolis MD
Wed 4 May, Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield CT
Thu 5 May, Shalin Lui Music Hall, Rockport MA
Sat 7 May, Troy Music Hall, Troy NY
Sun 8 May, Iron Horse, Northampton MA
Mon 9 May, Boulder Theatre, Boulder CO
Tue 10 May, State Room, Salt Lake City UT
Sat 14 May, Freight & Salvage, Berkeley CA
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