Ruby May had two jaw operations and thought she'd never sing again, but used that time to dream up her brand new song Chasing The Sun
Ruby Cooper, who goes by the stage name Ruby May, is a singer/songwriter from Sydney's Northern Beaches. Her penchant for beautiful melodies with an equally beautiful voice to match makes for gorgeous tunes. But after the launch of her first EP Wanderer, in 2014, Ruby found out she would need some jaw operations. During that time of forced silence and painkillers, Ruby wondered what her future held. She started exploring other career pathways but, as it does, the music beckoned. After wandering - pun, yes - down the film making road, she couldn't stop thinking of how much music meant to her. A couple of years and many questions later, Ruby May has her heart and hand firmly committed to music. Her jaw operations were successful, she has made a full recovery, and has released a brand new single called Chasing The Sun produced by Nik Karlin (an incredible producer who worked on Sydney electro-pop duo Port of Spain's stunning song Blind) and it is just divine. Ruby's voice is pure and striking, and the song embodies the warmth of the rays through the window on a long road trip. It's released tomorrow and you should check it out. Ruby took some time to speak with Music Love about her jaw operations, her old songs, and her new, and living in Sydney's insular peninsular.
What does music mean to you?
Music moves me in a way nothing else is able to! A good track has the potential to make me want to stop everything, sit down and listen. Music means being able to turn thoughts, emotions, ideas into something that has the potential to impact others. I love it when the one track can motivate me throughout the day, send me to sleep, energise me for a run, calm me down and be a soundtrack to my life.
Tell us about your new song Chasing the Sun.
Have you ever been in one place only to want to be in another because of someone? This song is about racing the fleeting daylight to catch that person before the day is over. I began making the demo to this track and, being quite a visual person, just started picturing myself driving in the Californian desert and out came “driving with the sun, cause I know that’s where you are” - aka driving West.
You’ve taken a new direction after your folk-acoustic pop release, the EP Wanderer. What made you change course?
I was using guitar to write from 2010 which is when I had big dreams of being like Angus & Julia Stone. During Wanderer and the months following, I began to write more and more on piano, eventually [recording] most of my work straight into software. I started to gravitate toward the synth/electronic instruments and I also began listening to more electro-pop music. I then started to visualise myself performing those style tracks, which sparked me into writing that style of music and filling my reference playlist with music of the like, leading us to Chasing The Sun!
Tell us about your jaw operations
I was born with both jaws rotated to the opposite sides and positioned either too far forward or back. I had to undergo two major jaw operations, both involved breaking and resetting my jaw bones into their correct positions. The second operation was by far the worst, having my jaw wired shut for two weeks. So yeah, pretty fun!
How hard was it not to sing during that time?
Oh I hated it!! I felt so frustrated that for several months I wasn't able to do what I loved the most. I decided to put music down altogether during that time, thinking it would be better to stop completely that to do it half heartedly. Over those beginning months I found that I was becoming quite discouraged, thinking “maybe music isn’t for me,” “Should I spend this time exploring other avenues as a back up? What if I don’t make it?” Because of that, I ended up studying Film & TV. After the operations were done, I was getting quite a bit of work doing film projects and lost sight of my musical dreams. Luckily I got to the end of the year and had a wake up moment - “What am I doing? I need to be doing music!!”
Is everything ok now?
Yes! Everything is fine thankfully. I actually feel like I’m in a better headspace than before having all that time off. I got to the end and was a little shocked at the deep desire I had to get back into songwriting, recording and performing! This was really good for me to realise how much I really wanted to be doing music and it wasn’t just a side hobby. I developed a, “I need to do this” attitude which I think is so essential in this industry.
What is your wildest musical dream?
Hmm.. well in terms of ‘wildest dream’ I’ve got a few things written down, such as tour across the world, perform to more than 10,000 people, create a short film to play before my shows.. but to be honest, if I found my songs were lifting people up and causing them to do better in life, I’d be like, "yep, this is it!"
What was life like growing up on Sydney’s Northern beaches?
I loved it! It’s commonly known as the ‘insular peninsular’ so we are a little disconnected from the music scene of the city, but one great thing was the incredible community I found within it. I’m so thankful for all my friends and family I have here that encourage, support and believe in me everyday! Although, a little lacking in music culture, you do find those people who think you’re crazy for pursuing a career in music, but you know, you gotta block out the haters!
I’m part mermaid and obsessed with coffee, so I do love living here!
What is your favourite place in Australia?
South Coast of NSW. Where the country meets the sea. Dad grew up in Orange, so as well as being part mermaid, I think I’m also part country girl. I usually stay in Mollymook or Gerroa and do day trips to Berry and Milton. It’s such a slow pace of life down there, which makes it such a great place to unwind, recalibrate and laugh the night away with a glass of wine in hand. I used to have a dream of opening a recording studio on a large piece of land, so artists could come for a getaway / recording week. Who knows, maybe I will one day!
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
There are so many incredible women in music in this country!! I love finding and surrounding myself with really genuine people who aren’t just here to make it, but to champion on other men and women around them to do well also. One of these people is Phebe Starr! I remember leaving the last conversation I had with her feeling so encouraged, understood and with a sense of, "I can totally do this." In this industry it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so having voices like Phebe in my ear is incredibly liberating. Plus, she is a super talented artist, consistently pumping out content, whether it’s new music or the music video she made herself!? #goals
Also the women at Women In Music Sydney are amazing! How incredible to have a community of women who are looking out for one another in my own city!! I went to my first event in March and was blown away by everything that was talked about and the easy atmosphere created to have conversations with other ladies in the room.
Who is your favourite Australian non-musical artist?
Bonnie Gray. She is an artist currently living on the Central Coast of NSW. Each time I see one of her works my jaw drops.. I love the way she uses colours and patterns. I can’t wait to own one of her artworks one day.
What can we expect from Ruby May this year?
Two singles which will be a part of an EP due to be released November this year! You can also expect live shows, the first one being my single launch 11th May at The Brighton Up Bar, Sydney! For all the visual people, I’ll be filming some stripped back versions of my tracks which I am keen for.