Ruth Lyon is a singer-songwriter of intense honesty and an impulse to say it how it is. After spending the last few months treating us to a fresh and vibrant array of upbeat offerings, north-east troubadour delivered her debut EP ‘Nothing’s Perfect’ this October. We caught up with her recently to chat about the process behind this brilliant and eclectic mix.
Hey Ruth, how are you and where are you speaking to us from?
I am backstage at a great venue called the Adelphi club in Hull North of England. It’s a wonderful venue with tonnes of character, seems like not much has changed here since the 60s – One of my favourite venues to play. I am supporting an awesome artist Martha Hill – she is incredible!
How would you describe your sound?
I call my sound Baroque Pop in the Alt-Pop field but generally I am still figuring out my sound trying different things out. It’s an exciting time writing the first record full of experimentation and happy accidents! There are hints of blues, indie and folk in there and I love working in different genres and mashing them up – keeps things interesting.
Your debut EP ‘Nothing’s Perfect’ tells a well-rounded story of life’s ups and downs. How did you decide on the title ‘Nothing’s Perfect’?
It comes from a line in one of the singles ‘Fast Food’ and it just totally seemed to fit this collection of songs. It is a mantra that I tend to live by and although it might sound a bit melancholic it’s really not! For me it’s a powerful statement and a hopeful one. Life is not perfect, nothing is, but there’s so much beauty and intrigue in the bits that we don’t have control over. It gives me strength to reject ideas of what is ‘normal’ or beautiful and celebrate differences and quirks. Perfection is so overrated!
Your lead single ‘Motormouth’ has an unapologetic sound to it. What was it like writing the lyrics for the song?
I think this song was actually my favourite to write and it was mostly recorded and self-produced in my home studio (aka the spare room) with my partner, Conrad. I am always getting such massive friend crushes on new people I meet and I have never understood “playing it cool” so always end up feeling like a big old freak. But I also think it’s a really great thing about my personality that I don’t want to lose. I say how I feel and everyone around me instantly knows what I am thinking so if someone can’t handle my overenthusiastic friendship then that’s energy I really don’t need around me. So much of young people’s time is taken up trying to present this warped, edited version of reality and I just have no time for that. The lyric “I wear my heart on my sleeve” really sums it up and sometimes that can be a problem but at least it’s real!
Compared to the rest of your EP, your lead single ‘Motormouth’ is on the darker side. What was your reasoning behind making ‘Motormouth’ the darkest track?
I like the fact the words are playful but the music and the video are both super dark. I think it really brings it to life. The song is observational detailing a snapshot into the inner monologue: experiences of embarrassment, the awkwardness of growing up, about getting burnt for being weird. I guess it is about being a misfit but I have grown to really love the fact that I don’t fit neatly anywhere and tend to gravitate towards other similar minded people. There’s power in being part of a sub-culture and that sense of community comes out a bit goth for me I guess! The video is a continuation of that self expression. I studied fashion design and made all the outfits and designed the looks for the shoot so I am really happy with how it all turned out using the reflections and lights and layers – adds to the slightly uncomfortable nature of the track and it fits it so well. And I have just started gigging the EP and this one is so fun to play live!
What was the production process like for your debut EP?
Most of the EP produced remotely with producers Rhiannon Mair and Cameron Craig adding production and mixing via zoom. They also got extra players to join in from their studios and it was a big collaboration. It’s not how I imagined my first EP to be made as I had planned to be in a studio but I quite liked the process, so much time and space to reflect on every little step. We engineered and recorded mostly from home and for Motormouth we too the track to finish off in Blank studios just down the road in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I think this time has forced us to be more adaptive and flexible in the way we all work and I have really enjoyed the process. I certainly have learnt so much about production myself that I wouldn’t have picked up if I had just spent a week in a studio! It has been tough at times and took a long time but I really have enjoyed the ride.
You explain your debut EP as a diary entry, what is it that you want people to take from your diary entry?
I think every song is like a different emotion on there. ‘Fast Food’ is the most upbeat and directly about making the most of our collective time spent at home and just giving in to take away every night, drinking too much wine and bingeing Netflix. I would like everyone to take different things from all the songs like ‘Paper Aeroplane’ is more nostalgic and heartfelt so I was writing that from a more contemplative state of mind. It has been so great hearing the reactions to all the tracks in different ways like some people might cry as it evokes an emotion or memory and it makes you want to dance or kiss your partner or get a bit saucy. Whatever it is, I just want my music to provoke a reaction or a feeling – I love making it so I want people to enjoy listening to what’s being going on in my head. That’s what I do this for!