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Check Out Ella Ruby’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ella Ruby.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I grew up in Seattle, Washington. I’ve always been interested in music – my dad grew up singing folk music with his family in Omaha, Nebraska, and when my sister and I were little, we would sing with him while he played his guitar. As we grew up, my sister and I kept singing together: in the car on the way to and from school, in the backyard in the summertime, on family hikes and – well, anytime we could. My voice has always been extraordinarily precious to me. It’s part of how I trace my connections with my family, with my sister and my dad and my dad’s dad and on and on.

I only started writing my own songs near the end of high school. It was almost an inevitable shift for me: a way of understanding experiences I couldn’t make sense of or feelings I was having difficulty embodying. It immediately offered a creative outlet that was soothing, clarifying, and fulfilling beyond anything else I’d experienced.

I kept writing quietly and singing constantly throughout the next couple of years – and up through my move to LA for school – but it was only when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I moved back to Seattle with my family that I started to think about sharing my music more broadly. Over the next two years, I reached out to anyone and everyone I knew who might have some experience with recording and publishing music – it was through this process (and SoundBetter!) that I ended up meeting Andrew Goldring, and through him Jon O’Brien, who ended up producing my upcoming EP. Around the time that I met Jon, I also found work as an intern at MIC: Music Industry Connected, which aims to support independent musicians navigating the business side of music careers.

I largely got to where I am today through my work as an intern at MIC and my collaboration with Jon, which led me to recording last fall with Eric Cannata of Young the Giant and Coma Culture, Kevin Farzad of Sure, Sure, the incredible Gal Musette, and the fantastic Via Mardot. As of now, I’m working on building up to the release of my debut EP, baby blue (coming out October 14th), featuring all of those wonderful, wonderful artists and people and trying to stay grounded and balanced as I prepare to share the music that’s dear to me.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s definitely had its ups and downs! I think one thing that’s been difficult for me consistently is that I go through phases of confidence and clarity with my work. One month I’ll feel really good about what I’m creating, and the next I’ll feel very self-conscious and question the value of my words and worth and perspective. It’s been helpful for me to realize that that ebb and flow is just part of my rhythm of making art and existing as a human, and it’s important to be easier on myself through those energy shifts. I also constantly remind myself of what pulls me back towards music in the first place: sharing my voice, connecting with my family and dear ones, and grounding myself in my emotions and processing of my own experiences.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a singer-songwriter, first and foremost. I’m in love with words, the interplay of sounds and the way lyrics can be interpreted by so many people in so many different ways. I’m constantly inspired by nature, by my daily walks and time spent in my parents’ garden. My friends would also say I’m constantly inspired by my relationships, heartbreaks, and the general angst that comes with being 23 years old and figuring out how to communicate more effectively and navigate this whacky, whacky world. Ah, well. I suppose I’d describe my vibe as queer heartbreak thinly veiled with nature metaphors, all intertwined with acoustic folk and an indie edge.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’ve never been too much of a risk-taker, at least physically. I’ve never felt the need to go too fast, climb too high, or swim too far from shore. I’m generally content to walk slowly, smell flowers, dance in the rain, feel the dirt between my toes, and rest easy in the gentle moving of things.

That being said, with so much of my life grounded in those habits, my risk-taking appears in different ways. Oftentimes that looks like seeking out experiences that will push me to feel deeply and dangerously: in my relationships, but also in environments that will force me to re-evaluate my positionality and teeter impossibly close to reinventing myself. I think in a lot of ways, it’s those risks that are behind so much of the art that I create, be it with my hands or voice or body. My risk-taking enables me to feel deeply, freely, beautifully, and boldly.

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Image Credits
Clara Scudder-Davis; Mira Horwitz; Jackie Au

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