RUBY THE RABBITFOOT
Divorce Party (8/12/16)
Not many people can take something as devastating and tumultuous as a breakup and turn it into an album thick with joyous beats, infectious melodies and lyrics that spin disappointment and desolation into revelatory moments, but Ruby The RabbitFoot is not someone who sees things in simple black and white. On her third album, Divorce Party, she creates a vivid world that stretches far beyond just the songs – from videos that straddle the line of performance and art, to her fearless use of fashion, to the music itself, which serves as the thrilling, creative center to her unique universe. Produced by Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes, Azure Ray), Divorce Party is a celebration of life after loss, and the creative renewal that comes from finding light amongst the darkness.
"I want this to be a soundtrack for anyone going through a transition," says Ruby – though this album was written after a particular romantic one, she's not the kind of artist who stays stagnant, anyhow. For this record, she immersed herself deeply into pop music and hip-hop, listening constantly to everything from Beyoncé to Taylor Swift and Fiona Apple. "Having your heart broken is something that humans all experience," she adds. "It's how you learn, and how you grow.”
Beginning with "Beach Flowers," the first song she wrote for the LP and which also kicks off the album, Divorce Party is thick with unusual percussion, shimmering synth licks and ethereal orchestration courtesy of a more experimental approach to instrumentals. "I built you up into a castle in my brain," Ruby sings in her crystalline vocals, "and though it's made of sand, I like making plans just the same." For the Georgia-born artist, the idea of a "beach flower" came to represent how some experiences are as lovely as they are ephemeral – but that doesn't make them any less worthy of enjoyment. "A beach flower is something beautiful and temporary," she explains. "You wouldn't plant all your flowers on the beach unless you wanted the ocean to gobble them up."
The process of creating Divorce Party took nearly two years from start to finish – after 2014's New As Dew, she embarked on an artistic journey that took her everywhere from Georgia to California, where she met collaborator Natalie Neal, who became an instrumental partner in expressing her vision. Neal, a renowned avant-garde director and photographer who has screened her work at Sundance Film Festival, made the ideal match for Ruby. Together, they have been developing the visual palate for Divorce Party, including its stunning first video for "Beach Flowers."
To create Divorce Party, Ruby took the songs down to Athens, Georgia, and LeMaster, working with an innovative goal in mind and a new, playful approach to composition. "I wanted more of a pop-sounding record," she says. "I'm a songwriter first and foremost, and I think in the past it's been my nature to pick up the guitar. But in my free time, I love pop music and rap music and R&B. So I had a heavier hand in the style I wanted this time. I learned how to make beats, and learned so much from working with Andy. He has the same love of pop music, and is fearless."
That love is clear in songs like "Faucet Love" and "Ancil," which both manage to be stirring and addictive, melding the stickiness of a pop record with experimentation – via unexpected horns or skittish rhythm - that could only be tackled by someone who knows no real boundaries. And then there are also moments like "Wish," with a slow-burned eighties vibe, that puts on full display the complexities within her vocal range. On “I Hate You” Ruby marries beats and an upbeat melody with some deeply cutting lyrics: “If I ever see your name in lights I think I'll melon ball my eyes out/ Mail them to you overnight with a note that says/"Surprise! Remember when you used to swim for miles and miles in these baby blues?/I wish you would have drowned, cause I hate you/Oh I do.”
"That breakup was challenging, but I'm good for it," she says. "I learned so much about love, and I am writing and singing better than I ever have. So I'd like to thank my ex.”
“Even though there's this connotation of disruption and heartbreak, divorce parties have a celebratory energy. Every person that we love teaches us, so when it's time to part ways I think it's beautiful to appreciate everything we've gained from the experience. I wrote these songs in a period of separation from a love. I want to release them into the world as a celebration of all that I learned during that time. It's my Divorce Party!