Afterglow Festival

Ruby Rose Fox

July 31st, 2018  |  Published in Artists

Boston based artist Ruby Rose Fox is the perfect cultural messenger of our times. Her music is as sonically compelling as it is subversive, packed with lyrics that reflect and challenge our current political state, from #metoo, to the mass shooting crisis. Part actress, director, and writer, Fox has never shied away from new endeavors. In 2017, Ruby was awarded two consecutive grants from The Boston Foundation, and also started “Gifted,” a program that offers children voice lessons who could not otherwise afford them. 2016 saw the release of her debut album Domestic which reached as high as #8 on the Billboard Heatseeker charts. The Boston Herald described Ruby Rose Fox as “artsy, edgy rock ‘n’ roll that lets her be Lou Reed and Nico at the same time… [and seems] to come from another scene, another world.” Another world indeed. With vocals characterized by a soulful and mesmerizingly low contralto, Ruby’s vocal aesthetic is an otherworldly take on modern indie music, and her lyrics indict the failures of modern America while empowering those that need it.

Not only does the sheer magnitude of her voice threaten to knock down the walls of any concert hall, but on her 2017 U.S. tour fans were blown away by the immediacy and intimacy of her voice. The feedback was overwhelming: “When I hear you live I feel your voice in my chest,” “Your voice shakes my body,” or “I got chills.” With these palpable reactions to her music in mind, Ruby came home with a mission not only to write a new record, but to figure out how to give her listeners the same physical sensations they had experienced in the live setting. This led her to an underground YouTube fascination with ASMR (Auditory Sensory Meridian Response). Using binaural recording microphones ASMR YouTubers whisper, tap, and crinkle paper to induce pleasurable electrical impulses that flow down the body’s meridians. With this in mind, Ruby started to make preparations for recording her sophomore album, an album with a message that she knew needed to be conveyed in a more deeply tactile and spiritual way.

 Which brings us to 2018 and the masterful end result, Salt. A subversive and utterly cinematic piece of experimental pop that features soundscapes built to accompany Fox’s wall shattering vocals. The sonically rich record is enhanced via ASMR microphones that were used during the recording—the same binaural recording microphones Ruby had discovered on YouTube—resulting in an ASMR sensitive body of emotional, political, and personal songs. Tracks that are meant to not only induce physical sensation and intimacy but to tell a cinematic story through the lens of a woman looking into Trump’s deeply divided America. “This new political landscape feels surreal, digital, and impersonal,” says Ruby. “I wanted it to feel like it was shaking inside your body. That it is personal and real. I think if we if felt more in our actual bodies we would be better citizens and probably better lovers.”

While recording Salt, Ruby—a former theater actress—approached each song like a scene in a play, often considering who the microphone was in relationship to the narrator of each song. For example, on the track “The Matador,” in which a bull sings to it’s retired Matador, Ruby circles the microphone to create the feeling of being approached by a moving narrator.

In his book, How Music Works, David Byrne believes binaural recordings create a sense of “sea sickness.” Ruby embraces this quality and even made one of her tracks “Boy Wonder, Come To Me To Survive The Internet Bully” intentionally sound like a wafting ship.

With such a unique approach to recording the album, it only makes sense that the listening experience would as rare as they come. “Most ASMR videos are meant to trigger soothing or pleasurable responses,” says Ruby. “I wanted to use the same technology to create soundscapes that were not only pleasurable but funny, scary, empowering, and maybe even sometimes uncomfortable.”

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