Ruth Theodore has been hailed as a rare talent by critics from The Guardian, Q Magazine and The Observer, no less. The singer-songwriter’s new album White Holes Of Mole Hills is out now.
What influenced you to start making music?
In short, the inability to read it. Although I was classically trained on the violin from the age of five and taught to play scales and read notes I was never encouraged to innovate or be creative which I always found much more exciting. At 14 I picked up the acoustic guitar. Engrossed by the advantage of not knowing its neck from its nuts, I began experimenting immediately and I’m told, since then, much time has gone by.
Where did you perform your early material?
In the doorway of WH Smiths on Southampton High Street from 1pm until around 5pm depending on the weather. This is also where a lot of early material was developed. I think fighting the noise of the street contributed to the hard and fast elements in my earlier songs as opposed to the more subtle and careful approach I have the liberty of playing with today. This is largely thanks to gaining a much more attentive audience.
How do you write your songs?
I wouldn’t say I have a formula but it tends to go something like this. Write, compose, cry, compose, write, draft, screw it up, hate it for a month, research, second draft, write, realise it’s unnecessarily long, edit, edit, edit, third draft, lunch break, revelation at the check out, hop around asking for a pen, write, play, fine tune, play… finished.
The stories on your website suggest you’re someone who does things the hard way, but has fun doing it. Is that an approach you bring to your music?
Absolutely. I love to see the cracks in things. They are the best bits. I try to bear and even embrace my own flaws when recording my music but at the same time give the most flawless performance I humanly can. To me the capabilities of modern audio and visual technologies are as impressive as they are boring. Using these tools to staple together my performances would have saved a lot of time but would have lost something more valuable.
How would you describe the sound of your album White Holes Of Mole Hills?
I think I’m too close to the songs to answer that objectively. I know that at all times we tried to represent the songs honestly. So really it sounds a lot like it does when the band and I perform them which I’m very happy about. But personally I’d describe the sound of this album as a reminder of a solitude that makes me shift in my seat.
What song would you have liked to have written and why?
Jolene by Dolly Parton because it’s so painfully reasonable and cause then I’d be as rich as she is.
Is there anyone that you’d like to collaborate with musically?
No, I’m a control freak.
Can you tell us about your forthcoming projects?
At the moment I’m concentrating on touring with my excellent band and getting White Holes Of Mole Hills into peoples ears whilst warding off all temptation to develop the new ideas that have started banging on my eyeballs. But secretly I can’t wait.
Would you tell us about your favourite live venue?
The Green Note in Camden Town has always been a favourite of mine. Immy and her staff treat musicians really well with free healthy meals and drinks. Although the stage is a squeeze the sound is always superb, mostly thanks to Louisa Gladwin who now occupies the sound desk at most of our gigs. I’ll be returning there with the full band late July/August time.
More from Ruth at: