Ruth O’Brien Profile overseen by Allan Sko
Canberra singer-songwriter, and BMA Local columnist, Ruth O’Brien, lovingly invites you to the long-awaited launch of her second EP, Songs for Abby, at The Street Theatre on 13 May.
Funded by the artsACT Homefront Grants in 2020, Ruth wrote and recorded these four acoustic love songs with an superstar assembly of Canberra’s top musical talent.
After the bleak years of the pandemic, Ruth wanted to create a work that was relatable and light-hearted. And so, a series of odes to the love-hate-love relationship with her cats came to be.
The recording of the EP has been a labour of love for Ruth and her Canberra-based team comprising David Pendragon (sound engineer and producer), Jack Buchanan (sound engineer), Viktor Rufus (guitarist and arranger), Julia Howarth (cellist) and Matt Nightingale (double bassist).
Viktor and Matt will join Ruth on the 13 May launch to bring her songs to life, as will Tabitha Hart of Mirror Mirror on cello/vocals.
You know her as your Locality columnist. Now get to know her as the brilliant singer-songwriter she is…
So, Ruth O’Brien… How did you start on this magic musical journey?
I always felt good when I sang. My Mum used to take me to church sometimes when I was little. I remember her once telling me I had a nice voice when we were singing. That’s probably my earliest memory of loving music.
When I was in Year 5, I used to busk at Erindale with my little harmonica and play Christmas carols. That was my first insight into getting paid to entertain. I really loved it.
In high school, I did voice lessons with a range of teachers (good and terrible) and was always looking to get better, and to know more about the voice. After I left school, I started singing at local events and, when I was 23, went to study music at CIT for a couple of years.
Describe your sound:
My sound is constantly morphing. Currently, it’s very minimalist, and I want to continue to improve and hone my songwriting skills.
The EP that I’m about to put out, Songs for Abby, is acoustic, and all about the songs, which are love songs. They tell little stories through a mix of folk, jazz, pop, and acoustic-sounds.
What key tracks should people immediately check out?
My new EP will be out on 13 May on all streaming platforms. I released my first EP in 2018, called Invaluable, which is also available on all streaming platforms.
I like each and every track on the EP for different reasons. The title track is probably my favourite to sing, though. It means the most to me personally.
Who/What are your influences?
Aussie singer/songwriters, particularly women, have inspired me the most.
These include Kate Miller-Heidke, Clare Bowditch, Katie Noonan, Jen Cloher, and Lior.
I also love, and have been inspired along the way by, Billie Eilish, Gang of Youths, Eva Cassidy, Elbow, and local artists like the lovely Kim Yang (who’s currently living overseas).
I’m always drawn to the singer first and the music second.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had as an artist?
I’ve been lucky to have had several amazing experiences on my musical journey. Depends what you mean by memorable!
At one gig, I had these homemade percussion-type instruments for the audience to join in. One of the things I brought along was a jar with plastic beads in it.
After the gig, I was told that they had been eaten!
That was super weird and clearly very memorable.
What is it that you love about the scene?
The Canberra music scene is full of really wonderful people. A lot of artists here want to see each other do well, and that genuine encouragement is really wholesome and lovely.
My favourite gigs to watch are jazz bands doing awesome improv, singer/songwriters, and looping artists.
I love the creativity in songwriting and making different sounds in different ways.
Tell us about one of your proudest moments?
My last EP launch. The room was full of people I love and who have supported me on my journey, personally and professionally. It was the end of an extremely difficult period in my life and I honestly felt like I’d achieved my own version of climbing Everest.
Still so proud of Invaluable, and thankful to everyone who was a part of it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m hoping to release music more regularly and keep working with new producers to explore different sounds and continue developing my artistry.
What makes you laugh?
Allan Sko. And my kitty cats.
Also, everything really. I’m quite a giggly person when I’m in a good mood.
What pisses you off?
I do love the cats but FUCK! Sometimes they’re so demanding and selfish. My new EP is all about the love/hate relationship I have with the cats. Any cat-owner knows what I’m talking about.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m launching Songs For Abby on Saturday, 13 May at The Street Theatre. I’m calling cat-lovers far and wide to come and be a part of this love-filled evening to launch my newest tunes into the world.
Expect lots of laughs, relatable stories, adorable pictures and, of course, good music!
Where can people check you out?
Check out all the things I’m doing below! And listen to my music on Spotify and Apple Music under my name, Ruth O’Brien.