1883 Magazine

Niall Horan, Martin Garrix and Jojo are only a few of RuthAnne’s songwriting credits. The Ireland-born singer-songwriter has always been a great music enthusiast and was surrounded by music ever since she was a child - coming from a musical family.

With 17 years old, the award-winning writer started taking her career to a more serious level after having founded her own girl group at the age of 13 and performing several gigs around Irish pubs. Her breakthrough came about when she penned the hit single ‘Too Little To Late’ for Jojo – a single which still boasts with popularity and nostalgia and which gained RuthAnne an ASCAP Songwriters “Best Pop Song” Award back in 2007.

More recently, she was heavily involved in former One Direction member Niall Horan’s debut solo album “Flicker” which includes the number 1 hit single ‘Slow Hands” which again awarded the skillful songwriter an award – the BMI Pop Award.

Now the all-round talent has kicked off her own solo career, and recently released her brand new single “Take My Place”, a stunning blend of pop, R&B and soulful vocals.

At Drink, Shop, Do in Kings Cross we sit down with RuthAnne and talk all things Los Angeles, ex-boyfriends and the transition from songwriting for others to becoming a launching a solo career.

How would you describe yourself to those who don’t know you?

I would say I am soulful, story-telling and fun. This applies to both my musical and personal character.

In the past you have built yourself a reputation for being a songwriter for quite a few known songs and artists – how was that journey and experience for you?

Sometimes you reflect and think back about what you have accomplished. I was in a songwriting session all the way in Los Angeles and thought to myself: “How are you here, all the way from Ireland?” Generally, I’m just always trying to make the best song possible so every time I’m working with an artist and trying to do my very best. I think that is just how I keep going because the music industry is a business. How I have stayed in this business is probably because I just try to make the best that I can, when I write songs I don’t care what happens to them because they usually always find a home eventually. When they are charting it’s just the cherry on top!

What has been your favourite songwriting collaboration so far?

I loved working on Niall Horan’s album just because it was so easy. It is great to work with an artist who knows exactly what he wanted. That’s a lot easier than having to pull something out of someone – a lot of artists don’t have an idea about what they actually want. So working with Niall was very exciting, also he is Irish as well so we had such fun at the same time.

How did you get into songwriting and music in the first place?

When I was seven I wrote my first song, a really bad song. I have always been obsessed with writing and singing. I didn’t even know songwriting was a real job. My Dad put together a girl band with me and my best friend when we were thirteen mainly because I wanted to hear the songs back to me. When I was 17 I went to Los Angeles and on my third day there I wrote Too Little To Late with JoJo. That was a big milestone for my career. It’s still such a nostalgic song, people still know it. Such a good song.

Being in a girl group when you were 13 years old, what were your lyrics about?

I used to write about Eastenders and Coronation Street. I had two older sisters who let me watch shows I shouldn’t have watched at my young age. So I wrote songs about domestic violence for example, and my parents were like “Who is this about??” I just wrote about drama. It wasn’t until a certain age that I wrote about my own drama. My album happened very easily because when I moved to Los Angeles there was a lot of boy drama. LA is terrible to date guys! A lot of celebrity flings. I got really screwed over, so it was a good five years of torture I could write about. It came around naturally.

Which changes did you face in LA that was different from the UK?

Before I went to LA I’ve never been anywhere in America but I was obsessed with going, but the culture is so different. Here in the UK we are down to earth and have a great humour. In America it is very different. There are great people over there but it was a people challenge because the humour and lifestyle are just so different. In Ireland you brag about getting such a cheap yet delicious Chinese meal and in America it’s all about showing off your wealth, like “look at my car, it was 50 grand”.

How do you approach writing a new song, where do you usually take all your inspiration from and how long does it usually take you to write a song?

I sometimes just write down notes in my phone and find a concept. I’ll just write down some bits of lyrics. For my first single I wrote down the lyrics in one night, then I brought it to my collaborators the next day and asked if it was too cheesy but they thought it was great! For me it’s about the concept. I find it hard to write lyrics to a melody but I do do that as well, I’m just trying to have a good vibe in the room and try to capture the feeling. You just have to feel it.

Coming from Ireland, what can you tell us about the creative scene over there? Did you find it hard to emerge as a singer-songwriter there?

I grew up in a really musical family, and went to stage school so I was constantly in theatre. I was also doing piano lessons, I was doing gigs in Irish pubs and was really obsessed with Irish songwriters such as Damian Rice and The Cranberries. So growing up there was a lot of music around me. As the career goes, I knew I had to leave Ireland. Although when I was in LA I felt a lot more lonely and struggled to focus because in LA there are so many other things you can focus on, such as the Hollywood scene. Sometimes I was craving home time, my dad playing the guitar and me playing piano. I wrote my own album and then went back to Ireland because I need the roots and the feeling of being home. LA is a great place, it takes you to great places but takes time to find the right people. In London or Ireland not everyone is in the music or entertainment industry whereas in LA everyone seems to be. Sometimes you just want to have a chat about the weather or Jeremy Kyle, not about music or similar topics. I try to stay away from the Hollywood scene now, to refresh my brain.

You have now launched a solo career, what was the major reason for deciding that?

It is my job to get out the stories and make an artist feel comfortable and to guide them and feel connected to the song. The big difference for me is that I actually have to be my own therapist because I have to put my own thoughts out. It took a while until I found myself and write lyrics which are true to me. Also, getting to sing it. I love singing and performing. I love writing for people and then hearing them perform or listening to the song on the radio. It’s amazing. And when it’s your own stuff it is even more terrifying, like I am out there now and doing my own stuff. But I have performed my own songs and seen people reacting to it, that is fun.

I think it is less pressure to be my own songwriter. I’m able to say “yes I like that one” or “no that’s not as good”, whereas other people want hit songs and you are under pressure to do that.

My current album is not supposed to be a charting one, it’s more about the passion behind it and if people connect with it then that is even greater. Music is about connecting people and bringing them together, that is my purpose.

Tell us about your new single Take My Place, the story behind it seems pretty upsetting.

My heart was broken, when that happens you usually think what the reason could be, what went wrong, all that. I was really random, I ended up on the playmates sister’s page and she posted pictures of them and when I clicked on her page I saw it was a playmate! It could have been anybody but no, it was a playmate. I was like “Ah, her body is amazing!”. Apparently she is a nice girl though. I’m a girl’s girl so I’m never like “That bitch!”. She can do what she wants but with my ex it was just like a stab in my face. When I googled her I could see her naked and that wasn’t a nice thing to see. It just set me on fire, and wrote Take Me Place. It kinda healed me. Because even when you don’t want to be with a person, seeing them with another person is not nice. Especially if they look so much different. So that song is basically about that feeling. The song is about all the questions you ask yourself. But now once I got that song out I was over the issue. The video was fun too, the actress looked exactly like the playmate! I was like “OMG you look like her, this is so real now!”.

How did your ex-boyfriend react to the song?

We are still friends, he thinks it is hilarious. They only lasted for a few months anyway. He just laughed and said I’m a psycho and I was like Yes! We are good friends and I’m over him now. It’s special when you go through something with someone and can still remain friends and support each other. We’re in the same industry, so I’m not gonna around spread bad things about him. It takes time to get to that level though.

What have you got planned next?

I’m about to support one of my favourite artists on tour, she is an icon. Also doing a headline show, and new singles every six weeks. Lots of great things happening, I am really exciting about it.

Ruthanne’s track ’Take My Place’ ia available here. For her latest news head to www.thisisruthanne.com

Interview Antonia Künzel

Photography Yoshitaka Kono

Hair and make up Chantelle Phillips

Location Drink Shop Do, Kings Cross London  

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