Thursday, May 01, 2008
Making the artwork for one of the biggest albums of 2007, Feist's The Reminder, as well as running her own business, Simone Rubi is clearly a talented girl. Rubi, half of electro-pop duo Rubies, is a self-described inspiration fiend. Inspirational stories and people, Rubi says are 'crucial' to her. "I meet a lot of people who are great and I'm always 'more, more, more, more inspiration'. I guess the kid in me is always looking to be in crush-land. I have like ten different crushes a day - I guess it's the inspiration thing." she confesses. Currently crashing at Feist's Parisian apartment, Rubi is finding inspiration plentiful at present, but then she has had a long interest with Europe, musical and otherwise.
"It all started when I met [Swedish pop legends] Kings Of Convenience in 2001 when I was with [indie-rock band] Call And Response. We were blown away by the way they could make such quiet music. You'd listen and say 'oh, I could hear a trumpet there' and that was their intention. They played implied music - they wouldn't just record the violin, they'd want you to hear it for yourself. That really helped my ear too, to hear the same thing but differently in a new way."
Quietly and forcefully, Scandinavian pop has been winning greater and greater fans courtesy of songs like Peter Björn and John's Young Folks, albums by The Concretes and tours from Jens Lekman. It was a scene Rubi instantly felt a bond with. "When we were there some friends said 'you should come back here and record' so we did! There is such a good vibe and a strong sense of the appreciation of songwriting there. The government has a lot of grants for musicians and songwriters - it's kind of amazing - there's nothing like that in the US, actually...it blows my mind. I like music from everywhere but I think that the music from there is gentle - not too assaulting - it comes from these geographically very beautiful places too, where people are very concrete about what they want to do and say."
Surprisingly Rubi thinks there is a strong connection between her home state and the music made in the north of Europe, an influence noticeable on the electro-pop warmth of their debut album Explode From The Centre with it's strong mix of smart, emotionally bare songwriting and dancefloor-ready beats "I think there is a mutual thing. They have this thing about Californian music and old West Coast melodies - they have a very similar sense of melody to us, and we're equally fascinated with what the other is doing." This duality is something that Rubi has noticed in herself when traveling "I'm one of those 'grass is always greener' people. I'm definitely very aware of my Californian-ness over here and when I'm in California I long to be in Europe, so much so it sort of feel like there are two versions of me."
With tracks featured on the influential Pitchfork website, remixed by Trans Am and DJ Shinichi Osawa, being Feist's guest at The Grammy Awards (who also appears on the album along with friends Devandra Banhart, members of Peter, Björn and John and Kings Of Convenience), Rubies are clearly in the ascendancy. this heady thrust into the spotlight is something her and bandmate Terri aren't letting go to their heads. "We both love growing things. Growing vegetables is a very big part of being in California - it helps with certain pace. The lifestyle we lead...yeah we're stressed and we work hard, it's nice to remember to enjoy things. With the music that we're doing, we put so much of ourselves into it, we're not trying to change the world by any means but it's something we love." Something it seems, they're getting more and more of back too.