Ruby Gill on the need to stop apologising

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Meet South-Africa raised singer Ruby Gill, who now lives in Melbourne.

NAME

Ruby Gill

WHAT DO YOU DO?

Sing things.

FAVOURITE BAND?

Everything everything

FAVOURITE SONG?

Romeo & Juliet - Dire Straights

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FAVOURITE FEMALE ARTIST AND WHY?

Haley Heynderickx, for her ability to break herself wide open in big ways even when singing about small things like olives on her thumbs.

IS THIS WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF?

Abso-fucking-lutely. I just didn’t dream of doing it here haha.

THREE OF YOUR HARDEST MOMENTS?

Admitting that half of my problems were self-imposed masochism. Watching a country crumble in very complex ways and not knowing what to do about it. Learning to walk on my own two feet again after finding myself wholly alone in this foreign melb-city.

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO NEXT?

I’d like to make an EP that encapsulates my last two years so that they can be set free. Apart from that: Japan, Brooklyn, Berlin, my mum’s garden, a studio made of wood.

FORKS IN THE ROAD, HOW DO YOU MANAGE THEM?

By sitting down in the middle of the tar where the road forks and being there - exactly there, in between, usually humming - until I can quell the anxiety and muster up the bravery to tick things off and just start walking.

DESCRIBE YOUR WORK ETHIC.

Infinite and erratic, haha. If it’s going to be done it’s got to be meaningful and good and I’ll do it til it’s the best it can be but it’s not a pretty sight.

DO YOU HAVE RITUALS? WOULD YOU SHARE ONE WITH US?

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I stop in a random spot each day and stand and stare at whatever’s in front of me until I’ve memorized every shade of every colour and every sound from each direction. These moments of yellow paint and metallic blue birds and rusty old gate posts and feathery bark have strung my life together.

HOW CAN WOMEN BEST SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER?

By realising that there is space for us all, that competition should be turned to inspiration, that we can incite joy and promote strength instead of feeling victimised or hard-done-by. Stop perpetuating the “I don’t know what I’m doing, sorry for this, sorry for that” identity. If we all help each other believe that we can and should do it, and then go and actually do it, very few people can stop that steam train from coming.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

It’s okay to be a slow burn, a complex little campfire that glows in funny places but keeps people warm for many many nights. You don’t have to be a firework. You also don’t have to please as many people as you thought you did. You can actually say what you mean and say it while you can.

WHAT MAKES A WOMAN ELECTRIC?

The frayed cords and exposed wires - the bits where the shallow insulation has come off and everything’s buzzing or gonna set something on fire. We’re all electric but it only shows when you’re powering things or letting it spark out through your imperfect, honest and complete self.

HAVE YOU COME UP AGAINST RESISTANCE WITH WHAT YOU’RE DOING? HOW DID YOU MANAGE IT?

Of course - both internal and external resistance. The latter I realised was either just perceived and not real, or outweighed by acceptance and support, or only there because what I was doing was actually important and some people don’t like important things. The former is ongoing and I have to just tell myself to fuck out of here every now and then and stop stopping out of fear.

WHAT MAKES YOU WANT TO GIVE UP? HOW DO YOU BOUNCE BACK?

I get overwhelmed very easily. One too many small things tips the scales and I dissociate and paralyze. To bounce back, I write lists of the worst that could happen, sing very loud songs in the sun, prioritise things gently, take all my clothes off, go birdwatching and have a good cry. I don’t have the answer haha. Hugs help.

WHAT WOMEN DO YOU LOOK UP TO?

Tshiamo Legoale is a scientist in South Africa who is finding ways to extract gold from mine dumps by growing wheat crops and siphoning gold dust from the plants. Hilary Kromberg helps kids who don’t have access to great education in regional areas learn about health and science using Hip Hop and music. And she’s my mum. Adrienne Lenker said fuck it let’s do it, cut off all her hair and changed my world with her music. Mary Oliver writes the most honestly intricate and simple genius poems I’ve ever experienced, and she inspires me to break wide open and use words strongly and gently all at once.

DO YOU HAVE ANY LITTLE SECRETS TO FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION?

Stop apologising. Find time to swim in the ocean - you are not a singular dimension. Find a way to make money - it doesn’t have to be the same as your passion. Some of the world’s greatest artists were plumbers and they made better art for it. Write shit down. And whatever you do, let it evolve.

WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A KID? HAS ANYTHING CHANGED?

I was anxious and bold. Literally nothing has change except my glasses prescription.

WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A TEENAGER? WHAT MAJOR THINGS DID YOU COME TO REALISE AS YOU GREW UP?

I was grumpy and old. I realised that being sad doesn’t make you cool. That you gotta learn to deal with the birds in your brain sooner rather than later or you’ll find yourself endlessly trying to figure out how to live instead of just living.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Our indifference and our fear of difference.

Follow Ruby on Instagram and like her on Facebook. Listen to her music on Spotify and Apple Music.