If there’s one way to get my attention, it’s mentioning pesto which is what one of my new favorite people, Ruby Fray’s Emily Beanblossom, did within the confines of our chat. Making it with cilantro, I (and by I I mean my fiance) must try her recipe. The reason we talked of the wonderful herb was because that’s the latest single from Ruby Fray.
With a sound as blended as Emily’s pesto recipe, Ruby Fray combines elements of the 60’s with modern day folk and even some country to create music that spans the spectrum of human emotion wrapped into an indie pop package. From rapid energy to cool, calm and collected. Emily opened up about all of the above, as well as her move from Austin to Chicago, each woman’s role in the band and a whole lot more.
Kendra: You were previously based in Austin, and have since relocated to Chicago, what advantages and disadvantages come with that?
Emily Beanblossom: The advantages are: Chicago is a massive city that I love. I lived here when I was 18 and it blew my mind with how many humans are doing all different things. I love that there is a totally useful subway system, I love wearing coats, I love the record stores and I love that my family is so close. I feel at home. The only disadvantages are that I have a lot of friends in Austin that I really love and I’ll miss them, and my bandmates are super rad and they are still there. Maybe we can Skype practice! But doing Ruby Fray may prove to be harder…maybe! And I only know a handful of folks in the Chicago music scene, so I’ll need to get going in a new music community. Can’t wait though!
Kendra: When you’re out there touring who would you say is the mom, dad, annoying younger sibling and angsty teen of the group?
Emily: I think we all probably moonlight in those roles at a different point here and there, but we find ourselves constantly floating into the following:
Emily – Band Accountant, public outreach, director of communications.
Lizzie – Band Therapist and time management specialist. Also, comedic relief.
Julia – Band Meteorologist, navigator, and cartologist. In Santa Fe, a gemologist.
We are all angsty teens.
Kendra: While out and about I’m sure some stops heard “Honor” which you dropped earlier this year. There’s a lot more energy to it than your current release, “Cilantro.” Were you in different head-spaces when you penned each?
Emily: Yes, definitely different head spaces. I co-wrote “Honor” with Corey Anderson and Evie Elman in Seattle while I was on tour with them and practicing at the Vera Project, and was in a playful mood. “Cilantro” was written while I was living in South Austin in a beautiful, calm house with a garden, lovely roommates, and an amazing backyard, which is the backdrop to the video for the song.
Kendra: Sticking with “Cilantro,” the video and song are so calming. Where did the idea come from, and did that cilantro get some use?
Emily: The cilantro was turned into about a pound of pesto! I used sunflower seeds, pecans, sesame oil, and garlic. I recommend this combination for a delightful spin on the classic. The idea for it came a few days before as I was cleaning a bunch of herbs and looking out the window at the back yard – there was a wind chime chiming in the wind, there was a little crystal making some light dance around on the sink and the herbs, and it was late afternoon so the light was golden. The fence is made of logs and gave the backyard such a sweet storybook look, and the visual of the video just sort of appeared. It was really a peaceful moment that I was thankful for, and I wanted to make something simple and celebratory of these moments that can come to us and make us feel really comforted. I was also ramping up to get a Yoga Teaching Certification, so a lot of Yogic themes influenced how I perceived my experiences at that time. It was a really exciting time because I was learning how to meditate, and learning about the benefits of doing so.
Kendra: Ruby Fray definitely has a 60’s sound with a little country here and there in the vocals. Any country influences on the books for you ladies?
Emily: I listened to a lot of Reba McEntire and Alan Jackson growing up I suppose…But if it’s anything now, it’s Dolly Parton all the way. Living in Texas had something to do with it, I’m sure. I like old world folk music.
Julia likes real old shit, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and she’s obsessed with Cindy Walker. She wrote songs for all the great ones. Lizzie likes Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. Her first vocal influence was LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue.”
Kendra: Circling back to cilantro, what is your favorite dish to add it to?
Emily: I like to put it on noodles, on toast with tomato for breakfast, or on pizza! Then we can’t deny it’s importance on tacos.
Kendra: Come the end of August, the tour is over and done. What’s up next for you? More touring in the fall? Recording?
Emily: Definitely recording! Then we are prioritizing touring, and the next goal is to get to Europe. Maybe even on a European label? Who knows! But yes, I’ll return to Chicago for a few gigs in September and October, trying to bounce down to Austin as much as possible for practices and prepping for tours. I plan on making more visual art, which is new for me but I’m feeling super compelled at the moment.
Kendra: Focusing on that 60’s sound, if you had to make a mixtape that celebrated that decade what five songs would have to be on it?