Ruby Fields has certainly been doing it for a while. Her first taste of viral fame came in 2018 after the release of her debut EP Your Dad’s Opinion for Dinner. Gaining attention from Australian Indie radio heavyweights Triple J, Fields then found acclaim amongst the ever expansive Australian independent scene which landed her support tours with the likes of Ball Park Music and San Cisco. And then in late 2018 she released “Dinosaurs”, the lead single from her second EP Permanent Hermit. The single reached #9 on the Triple J hottest 100 for that year and became ARIA Platinum certified. Everything seemed to be falling into place for Fields, landing slots at Laneway Festival and Splendour In The Grass in 2019, and 2020 was set to be more of the same.
Recording for her debut album as well as touring was brought to a halt at the start of 2020 for obvious reasons and Fields went on a forced hiatus. She then spent the time alone fleshing out the ideas she already had and found a new self confidence to create an album that focuses on toxicity in relationships, alcohol and drug abuse, and battles with mental health. The result is Been Doin’ It For A Bit, an album that takes Fields songwriting notoriety to the next level, being heartbreaking and heartwarming in the same moment. She still has a knack for bangers, through the likes of “Song About A Boy”, but there’s a level of maturity on this album that has been found through time. “If the reaper comes to claim me and all I’ve gone and done / Is write some shitty music and take some shitty drugs” she sings on “Clothes Line”, revelling in her success and wondering what it’s all for. But reversing that she’s now found reverence in the simplicities of life. “I woke up and you were in the kitchen / Talking with my mum and she was bitching / You couldn’t care less, you sat there unblinking / Those orange curtains sure bring out the blush in your cheeks” she recalls on “Kitchen”, revelling in the beauty of everyday situations.
Been Doin’ It For A Bit feels like a collection of diary entries from Fields, both the highs and lows of everyday life and under the spotlight, soundtracked by grungy guitars and melancholic moods. To find out more we asked Ruby a few question about the new album and her journey up to this point.
How long have you been doin’ it for?
If this was a reference to the album title, love it. In reality.. not too long. I’m 23 now.. I started busking when I was 13, playing in pubs since 14, and wrote the songs in our discography from when I was 16. So depends on where you think it counts, but officially I’ve been playing those songs as Ruby Fields in the band since I was 18. I’m not good at maths.
Over what time was this album written and recorded?
The album was written over about 2 years and recorded a year and a half ago at the beginning of COVID in New Zealand and finished in Byron.
What is the main theme you’re exploring on the album?
I think the theme to the songs is always whatever I’m going through at the time, I’ve always liked to imagine you could hear a bit of a journey of me growing up through the zones around Cronulla (where I was born) to moving out of home and entering my twenties. Maybe nostalgia?
Did the last year change the album at all? And do you feel you’ve changed over the last year as a person?
I reckon any musician changes from the conception of a song or album to the release.. I will say it feels like not much has changed during COVID but a year ago I was living south of Sydney in a big share house with my bandmates and now I live on a farm in the Northern Rivers where I’m building a little home studio.. so maybe my commitment has amped up a bit. The album itself hasn’t changed too much though I don’t reckon, it’s kind of given me the time to appreciate all the songs.
What allowed you to overcome your initial hesitancy on releasing “Song About A Boy”?
I wrote Song About A Boy when I was 20 and I probably just feel so far removed from the idea of the song by now that it didn’t bother me anymore, and I let myself feel really proud of the lyrics and the song that the boys and I created.
Who are some of the biggest influences your sound?
My earlier stuff was definitely influenced by Violent Soho and Goons of Doom, both of whom I adore, but more recently I’d say Phoebe Bridgers and Tegan & Sara.. I love their lyrics and the ways they build up their songs.
And what influences your songwriting? Is it diaristic or therapeutic?
I’d say it’s both. I was talking to a mate about this the other night but I’d say a good percentage of music is written in times of sadness or distress, mine is anyway haha. I’ve definitely written when I’m feeling super happy or inspired too though. Most of it is directly about my experiences, I have a real hard time trying to tell a story.
On “Clothes Line” you ponder what you’d say to the grim reaper when he comes, is this something you think about a lot?
I actually found the first lyric of the chorus in “Clothes Line” in an old English book from school and structured the song around it when I was about 21. I must have been playing heaps of Sims at the time.
Have you been able to play any shows this year? If so how have you found getting back on stage?
We were pretty fortunate to play a fair few shows during COVID, with restrictions of course, which was odd. Our shows have always been a bit loose and without the option to have a dance floor or mosh I think it pushed me over time to try and create a better atmosphere and pick up my weight as a performer.
Your band seems very tight in terms of sound and as people, where did you all meet and what do they bring to your music?
They’re my favourite people in the world. I met Pat (drummer) in high school, he was band captain and a really good skater I remember, and when I saw him years later at my work at a bar I asked if he’d be keen to demo some drums and then just straight up asked if he wanted to join the band. I met Adam (guitarist) when I was about 15, he was in another band in the Shire that I loved and we had some coffees and did some demos and eventually started working, writing and living together. Tas (bassist), I met last when I was about 16 through a mate at a party and we instantly got along and lived together a while later and when he said he was keen to quit his job I asked if he’d join as well. I really believe we were always meant to be in a band together and I’ve never found a bunch of more forward thinking, kind, hilarious and creative people. They saved my life and bring so much to the music, from recordings to performances to deep chats about life to laughing into early hours of the morning.
What has been the biggest achievement of your career so far? And what is something you hope to achieve?
I think I should say our Splendour in the Grass performance in 2019. It was our biggest crowd to date and full of friends and we were all on cloud nine. Really though, it might sound clacky but I think my biggest achievement is having a group of people around me where we all believe in each other and love working together. The boys and I obviously, but also every other person that contributes. That’s the whole point, to me.
If anything, what would you change about the music industry?
There’s levels of competitiveness in every industry but I think in music we’ve all been pretty fuckin’ good at banding together as a community especially lately in terms of the Me Too movement, through climate disasters, COVID etc. We’ll always need more representation for female-identifying and indigenous artists, which is a slow progress but something that’s shifted positively in the last few years.. which shouldn’t lead to complacency but more inspired change.
Been Doin’ It For A Bit is out September 24th, pre-order here.