Friday, September 4, 2015

Maddy Ruff [Interview 189]

(1) Your second album, "Over It", will release on September 15th.   I've always been a big fan of the Charles Bukowski idea that when people asked him what his favorite of his books was he would always say his newest because if that wasn't then why write it.  I also find sophomore albums to be tricky for the artists because you have to find that balance of repeating the success of your debut album without copying it.   What was it like creating "Over It" as a sophomore album in those respects?

1.) For sure! My current project is always my favorite. There is a level of excitement that comes from creating new material, and anticipating sharing it with the world for the first time. As humans, we learn and grow from every experience and venture. My first release, Don’t Fall, was a true learning experience, and I accomplished what I set out to do with it. As an artist, and as a band, we have grown and improved since it’s release, and I have no doubts about repeating ourselves with Over itOver it is definitely a Maddy Ruff record, but the sound has matured and evolved a bit. I couldn’t be happier…..well, at least until the next one down the line :) 

(2) Being a New Yorker, what is it like to see the changes that New York City has gone through over the years?  I know when you look back at things like CBGB's and that time it just felt like a different NYC back then compared to what it is now.

2.) CBGB’s!!!  I snuck in there underaged a few times.
I think there are positives and negatives to the changes in New York. As the city has gotten more and more expensive, we have lost a lot of the old school NYC culture here. So many mom and pop places that were the back bone of the city have been replaced by corporate chains. My favorite childhood restaurant, Popover Cafe, closed last year. On the other hand, it has forced businesses and residents to move further into the other boroughs. This has caused a whole new culture boom in Brooklyn and Queens. I’ve lived in BK for almost 4 years now, and my neighborhood has grown so much just in that time. A few established music venues in Manhattan have relocated to BK after insane rent hikes, bringing the lower east side off the island. It is definitely a controversial topic among New Yorkers, but I at least attempt to see the silver lining in it all.

(3) New York City is a hell of a place to have an album release show, but being a native does it make it harder for you?  I like to think of it in the way that "If you can make it there you can make it anywhere" and imagine some small town musician being able to "make it"  in their rural town that no one has ever really heard of before and then playing in NYC for the first time.   But being from NYC must be a completely different feeling because you don't win over your home town and then build to that big city dream-- that is your home town and you are seemingly immediately thrust into the big city dream.

3) I won’t lie. Trying to “make it” in New York is terrifying. My mother and step father were able to make a living and support a family as performers in NYC. I’ve always had that in the back of my mind. If they can do it, so can I sort of thing. Its definitely the big city dream, but its my city dream…..hahah that sounds super cheesy. 
Because there is so much music, art, and culture to choose from here, people often don’t appreciate it as much as they do elsewhere. I’ve had several friends try to convince me to move. They coax me by saying things like   "you won’t have to harass your friends to come out to a show with a $5 cover, and beer is half the price outside the city”. After the release, I’m hoping to take a mini tour or two around the east coast to see what the hype is all about! 

(4) You have a band called The Ruff Riders.   How much DMX would you say that you cover?

4.) We are a DMX cover band…didn’t you get the memo? Seriosly, we have never covered DMX, although I’ve been begged a few times to cover "Ruff Ryders Anthem". Who knows, maybe it’ll happen someday.

(5) Something that I've been talking with a lot of people about recently, but really for my entire life since I knew people who created music, is how women in music are treated. Often times, women who are members of the band (or are the entire band) are mistaken for the "merch girl" or simply a girlfriend.  In fact, I don't think I know a single female musician who has never had this happen to them.   Has this happened to you before?   What do you think we- as a music community- need to do to abolish this stereotype that some people just cannot  seem to shake of "You are a woman so there is no way you're part of this band even if these tour posters display otherwise”?  

5.) I’ve never been mistaken for a merch girl or a girlfriend of. I have definitely been condescended towards for being a female vocalist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “oh, so you’re JUST a singer”, when I tell someone I’m a musician and that my primary instrument is my voice. "Do you have a 3 plus octave range, write and perform your own music, and lead a band? I didn’t think so.”  I wish I could have actually had the balls to come back with that response. It may seem a bit defensive, but it  is definitely how I feel sometimes. The lack of credibility and respect female vocalists receive is frustrating, especially in the academic world….So glad I’m not there anymore, although;  I once had an awesome professor say to a few classmates, be nice to the singers, they will be paying your rent one day. He was right! There will always be ignorant people out there. I think the only thing women in music can do is stay educated and keep on keeping on. In particular, if your voice is your instrument, you aren’t just a singer, you are a musician, and you create something and connect with people using your voice. Don’t play into the dumb singer stereotype.

(6) You have released your first official music video for the song "Don't Fall" but on your YouTube you also have a video where you cover Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off".    How did that come about and why did you choose that particular song?  (Admittedly, I probably like "1989" more than I should) 

6.) Oh jeez :) That cover video actually started as a joke. Shake it Off had recently been released and was taking over the world, as Taylor Swift tends to do lol. I was out at the beach with some friends, and made a crack about covering it. I wasn’t even serious about it, and we all laughed it off. I got home that night and suddenly had the urge to learn it. I had never done a cover selfy video before, as is probably very obvious. I changed it up and made it a "lil bit more R&B’y" and put it out there. 

(7) If you could put together a tour featuring yourself (or The Ruff Riders) and two other artists, living or dead, who would you want to go on tour with?  

7.) That’s sooooo hard. Lets Say Grace Potter and Stevie Ray Vaughan

(8) To pull a phrase straight from your bio, your music is rock n roll but with that jazz, blues and opera influence as well.   I really love the fact that in 2015 there is so much music coming out that you can't really describe because at this point in time there just exists so much music already that it can be combined in ways to form new sounds that just stand so well on their own.   It essentially is getting harder to compare newer artists (The better ones at least) with one or two other artists because of how much music has grown and expanded over the past sixty years or so if you want to go back as far as the 1950's even.   Do you find that appealing as a musician to be able to have so many resources in that way- with the various styles and albums already in existence?  I like to think of a painter who has gone from having the basic colors of a rainbow to there now being so many different combinations to paint with that they are seemingly endless and though you might lose sight of what original colors went into making them they're still beautiful.

I never have a genre or style in mind when I’m writing. Whatever is meant to come out of me at that moment in time, just happens. I  really dislike using genres because it can be so limiting. Unfortunately, it is very necessary when it comes to advertising and marketing. Everything seems to need to have a label. Indie has become the title of a genre now, and that covers like 500 actual styles, which I think is kind of silly. In all good humor, after reading my bio and listening to the record, I’m sure you could see me having some trouble with the whole genre labeling thing. In reference to the opera comment, I don’t think there are influences of Opera in my actual music, but my classical training definitely helped give me the vocal flexibility to sing what I want. 

(9) As a fan of live music but not leaving my home do you anticipate ever releasing a live album or DVD?
I don’t like leaving my home either, and you don’t have to! You’ll be able to stream the show live on!!!! (Sept 17th 7:15)

(10) Final thoughts, shout outs, plugs, etc... ??

10.) Thank you for the opportunity to answer your thoughtful questions.
Big ginormous thank you and shout out to my band, and producer for making Over it possible. Benny Goldstein, Christian Nourijanian, Tim Basom, Goh Izawa, Andy Attanasio, Barrett Johnson, and Michael Mcgarril, you are all so wonderful!
The release show is Sept 17th at 7:15 at Drom NYC. Come on out!
Keep an eye out for more Ruff Stuff to come. 

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