Australian songstress, Ruby Boots (Bex Chilcott) released her sophomore album, Don’t Talk About It, this February on Bloodshot Records. The path she’s taken as a musician has been one of dedication and patience. The now Nashville based musician was kind enough to chat on the phone with me about growing up in Australia and her music career.
Izzi Krombholz: Tell me about life growing up in Australia and how you got turned on to music.
Ruby Boots (Bex): I didn’t really play music until I was 22 and I grew up with two brothers and I left home I was 14 and I was living in Perth and by the time I was 19 I ended up heading up north and I landed in a place called Broome. I worked on pearling farms and lived out on sea for around 3 years. I started to play guitar working out on boats.
IK: How did you get started in folk/country/Americana?
RB: I’m influenced by an Australian band called The Waifs, they play kinda folk rock. I grew up in the grunge period with Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and I was freshly out of home as well and that kind of music really helped me through a stage in my life and from there I was given three records that really made an impact and opened up my world to that. Bob Dylan Desire, The best of Joan Baez and Janis Joplin Pearl. It was really the first time I had thought about music from that era at a deeper level. I was 16 at the time and it made a really big impact on me. I listened to a lot of Australian rock n’ roll. That was kind of what my formative years or falling in love with great original music was made up of.
IK: How did you make the leap to start performing?
RB: I left working on boats when I was 22. Then I traveled around the UK and Europe and I started busking out there and I would busk on the street to try to pay my rent. It was a great way to start because everyone was watching but no one was watching. There were thousands of people walking past me in the street everyday but no one really cared. It was the perfect platform to start. I started performing at open mic nights and then I started playing solo gigs… I gigged around and I was singing from my gut but I started losing my voice. I was ruining my voice. I had two really big nodules on my vocal chords. I couldn’t sing for two years and nine months. That really took a toll, I didn’t get my voice back until 2010. It was one of those things, the worst thing that could possibly happen to you when you’ve just fallen in love with something that saved your soul. I was just really patient and hungry to get my voice back and I did and I recorded my first EP in 2010.
IK: You were very patient, a lot of people would have had that happen and given up. It’s really great that you hung in there because your career really started after that point.
RB: 2012 was when I did my first tour and I was still learning about my voice. I can’t do more than three days in a row because I’ll lose it then. I wouldn’t have been able to go out and do a month of international touring if I hadn’t learned that. It’s really sweet because it wasn’t about the career and it wasn’t about the touring, it was just about being able to sing again and express myself again. I feel as if I’m writing a song as I’m talking.
IK: When did you first visit the States?
RB: I came over for the first time in 2012, checked out Bonnaroo and stayed in a hostel on Church Street. I met a couple of people and then came back 3 months later and just played a couple of random bars. At the time I was just about doing whatever, just saying yes to everything and being open with everything and seeing where things would take me… I ended up moving here in 2015.
IK: Tell me about your friendship with Nikki Lane? How did you connect with each other?
RB: We just rolled in together at 3am this morning, I went with her to her show in Lexington, KY. She has a way of convincing me to do things. We haven’t gotten to see each other very much at all lately. We met in Australia through a wonderful promoter who has a vision for pulling like minded artists together. We hung out and we kept in touch when I kept coming back to Nashville. We’ve done a lot of things together, we collaborated on my record. She was passing through when I was recording so she sang backup on one of my songs that she had a hand in writing the chorus for.
IK: Do you have a favorite song on your new album, Don’t Talk About It?
“I’ll Make It Through” might be my favorite because its vulnerable and tough at the same time.
**For those in the Midwest area, Ruby Boots will be performing at Holler on the Hill in Indianapolis September 23rd. I’m beyond excited to see her live for the first time!!