Artist Interview: “Last Year” by Ella Ruby

Q: “Last Year” is a beautiful and romantic take on sex dreams, bringing a whole new light to the taboo subject. The world needs more gritty, and lovey songs about sex; What was your favorite part in creating this track?

Ella Ruby: Thank you so much!! I absolutely agree – there are so many complexities to sex and love and relationships that we so rarely talk about that just percolate and run rampant in our imaginations and our subconscious and our dreamscapes. It feels so freeing (and also so wild!) to have some of mine out in the open in song form. I have SO many favorite parts of creating the track so it’s super hard to choose, but I think one of the most magical was getting the string parts back from the exceptionally talented Via Mardot, who recorded her parts remotely and then sent them over to Jon O’Brien, who produced the song (and my upcoming EP!). The strings add this magnificent dark richness and complexity to the track, and it really came alive with that addition.

Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to follow your path as a musician? 

Ella: Mm okay this has taken a while of thinking but I’ll narrow it down to the top contender. During the spring of 2021 I was living in a house with a bunch of friends and I’d take probably a four-hour long walk every day just to be alone with my thoughts (I’m an introvert, if you can’t tell). I’d been playing with the idea of sharing my music for a while at that point – so many songs running around my head – but I was afraid in some deep dark part of me that no one would relate to my words, that they were too painful or raw or specific. On one of my walks, I had taken a pit-stop on top of a hill and I started thinking: if I’m lucky enough to make it to 60, 75, 80, what will I look back on in my life and regret? And out of anything, I realized I’d regret not sharing my music, my words, my heart in that way. So here I am. 

Q: I’m intrigued by your lyrics; they’re so poetic but sexy at the same time. Can you walk me through your writing process on “Last Year”?

Ella: Ahh thank you! A fine line to walk along but I’m so glad you like them. The writing process for ‘last year’ was exquisitely smooth. I’d been in a mood (as you can probably tell from the lyrics) and I sat down with my guitar and the song just kind of happened. Most of the words in the final version are the same as the original song I drafted, with some punchy suggestions by the incredible songwriter and producer Alicia Healey, who’s located up in Seattle. She called me a passive-aggressive songwriter (my favorite feedback so far) so I tried to make this one a little more demanding and up-front than some of my other work.

Q: If you could collaborate with any musician (dead or alive), who would it be?

Ella: Brandi Carlile, hands down. All my friends will roll their eyes because it’s so predictable, but that answer is never gonna change. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was seven, when my dad and I went to her concert at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. It has been so meaningful for me to look to her example throughout my life, as a Washingtonian and a female artist and a queer woodsy badass, and I can’t even imagine how it would feel to meet her – let ALONE make music with her.

Q: How’s the music scene in Seattle? I always feel like it’s neck to neck with LA, but Seattle has more unique artists.

Ella: If I’m being honest, I’ve probably spent more time in the LA music scene than in Seattle – I went to undergrad in the LA area so I’ve lived around there on and off for the past couple of years, and that’s where I recorded my EP. That recording experience was absolutely fantastic, and actually had a lot of the energy I associate with Seattle artists and music: that earthy sort of groove/energy/camaraderie. I’m trying not to out myself too much though because I’ll have Seattle bias ‘til I die!! 

Q: What first got you into music? Did you grow up in a musical family?

Ella: Yes! My dad’s family is rooted in the folk community in Omaha, Nebraska, and my sister and I grew up singing probably before either of us could talk. Making music – singing with my dad while we do the dishes, harmonizing with my sister on walks, humming while my mom plays the piano – has always been how I’ve known I’m home.

Q: Parting words to your fans?

Ella: FANS! Hi. I’m so glad you’re here. I hope you have the most glorious day. 

Q: What’s next for you? Tours? New music?

Ella: Definitely have some music cooking! Hoping to release my debut EP in the late summertime, and I’ll potentially be performing around the Seattle area before then…stay tuned! Much love!

Photo credits: Mira Horwitz

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano


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