This Canadian Social Media Star is on the Cusp of Super-Stardom
If social media has reminded us of anything, it’s that power lies in the masses. And when the collective hive discovers something that resonates within, viral exposure can result in skyrocketing fame. Regarding music, Canada is especially well known for unearthing hidden gems who have gone on to become incredible success stories. Justin Bieber was discovered through YouTube, while Shawn Mendes accumulated a base of loyal followers off of the popular (and soon-to-be shuttered) micro-video platform, Vine. Now, the world may see yet another musical talent join the pantheon of Canadian superstars born out of social media. Her name is Ruth B.
Similar to Mendes, Ruth grew a passionate following of loyal fans through Vine after posting short clips of her singing and songwriting skills. It was the Edmonton native’s song, Lost Boy, which would be the catalyst for her career after she debuted on YouTube at the beginning of 2016. She has since gone on to sell over 140,000 singles since February and 16 million global plays on the digital streaming service, Spotify. While on the road opening for another talented Canadian musician, Alessia Cara, the 21-year-old spoke about her inspirations, social media and what to expect down the road.
What role did music play while you were growing up?
Music was always there. It wasn’t something that I was taught to do or love; it came very naturally to me. [Growing up] I was always singing around the house. My mom was musical in the fact that she sang in the church. I guess I always hoped that I could make a life out of it. But I was also content with doing it for fun because it was a part of me.
Did your family and cultural background have any significance in shaping your sound?
As far as musical taste, I grew up around spiritual Ethiopian music. It is really melodic and rich, and I guess that has played a role in the melodies of my songs. But as far as musical influences, I started discovering my tastes when I was in high school. That’s when I started listening to artists like Lauryn Hill, The Beatles and Ed Sheeran. I got into the lyrical aspect of singing — listening to what people were saying as opposed to a catchy melody.
You grew up in an era heavily saturated with social media and this idea of connectedness. How do you plan on further cultivating your community?
I think social media is a great tool to stay connected with people and listen to their opinions. When you look at what happened to me, it was really because of people wanting to hear more, and me taking away [from that]. I love using social media for just that reason: being able to talk to people, hearing what they’re going through and their stories.
Do you utilize a lot of the feedback to help inspire and further your craft?
I do to a healthy extent. It’s not good to listen to everything because that’s not always the best. But anytime someone has some constructive criticism or even just something good to say, that always plays a big role in my writing and me growing as a person.
Much of your music has this storytelling aspect to it. What do you want people to know about you?
I think that there are a lot of stories to be told. The best songs are the ones that you find in the little things every day. All I want to do through my music is make people feel understood. That’s what music was for me when I was growing up. Anytime I would find a song that kind of got what I was going through, I wouldn’t feel as alone. That’s all I want to do. I don’t know if there’s one exact story I want to tell, I just know there’s a lot and ultimately people can find themselves in that.
Can you describe your songwriting process?
I think for me so far, it’s been very different. When I first started writing, there was a formula to it. I would think of the process and just write the song right there. But now I like to let it marinate. I just do it whenever inspiration hits. Lately, it’s been a lot of single words which will trigger a song; that’s been my process lately.
What has been your favourite part of the experience?
Talking to people who have found solace in my songs. It’s always so bizarre when someone comes up to me and shows that my song did something for them. It’s genuine and there’s a lot of cool stuff that has come with the music world, but this is the number one thing. That’s the best part.
By the end of this tour that you are on with Alessia Cara, what do you hope to achieve?
I hope to just be super comfortable as a performer. That has been the biggest adjustment, so far. Before the tour I was just a solo piano player and I would sing my songs. Now I have a band and I’m really, really starting to fall in love with it. It just gets better and better.
As you see yourself achieving more and more success, are you wary about the fame that will come with it?
I’m not really worried about it just because I feel like in the past year my life has experienced the most change. I’m still in culture shock. Internally, I’m pretty good at differentiating between the outside world and myself. So my surroundings are always going to change and they’ve changed so much over the past year, but I still feel like the same person, I’m still close to my family and friends. So it’s cool that my surroundings are changing, but I hope to remain the same, always.
What’s coming down the road for you?
I’m working on a full-length album. Hopefully, it will be out in the world by early 2017. It’s been so much fun putting together these songs over the past years and gearing up to have other people hear them. I was really adamant that my album be an experience instead of a bunch of little moments, so there is a story. But I think anyone will be able to relate to it and the feelings that I’ve gone through in the past 21 years of my life.
Images courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc.