When I spoke to Canadian singer/songwriter Ruby Waters last year about her EP, Almost Naked, she exuded the confidence of a creative that knew exactly what she wanted to be. Now, a year later, Waters is back with her newest album, If It Comes Down To It. This seven-song journey is just as natural and forthcoming as the word that preceded it. Waters touches on subjects such as love in limbo and the uneasy feelings they cause, emerging as an adult and trying to break out of societal muck, and the lusty feelings that come over you when you see someone that catches your eye.
Waters weaves through the album with more instrumentation just in time for the October chill. These songs and words are the stages and everyone is attending a campfire ready to listen to the tales of her life. I caught up with Waters again to speak about how she’s dealing with the ongoing pandemic, the thought process behind If It Comes Down To It, and the stories behind some new songs in another entertaining, thoughtful talk.
We’re almost seven months into this pandemic. You’re a person who feels grounded around friends and family. They mean a lot to you and your creative process. How have you been dealing with being socially distant?
It definitely sucks. I think everyone can relate to that. There was a period throughout the year when I didn’t play as much because I was just like, “fuck this.” Definitely blocked the creative flow a little, but it also expanded it in other ways. So it’s been bittersweet.
When I talked to you last year about Almost Naked, I felt like the beginning of the caterpillar turned into a butterfly. You walked the line of showing the raw parts of yourself against an industry that wants artists to be more polished. Now that we’ve arrived at If It Comes Down To It, what does this project mean to you for your growth process?
We started making it last year, and we were finishing it around when the pandemic started. It’s been a unique process. Creatively, it was easy and came naturally. All the songs were super raw. The result of late nights and random thoughts that slipped into songs. Then, quickly slipped into an album. Especially compared to Almost Naked. It was like a lot of writing. We spent a lot of time pumping ideas out. Now’s it’s just like what to do, but as far as this album goes, it was organic.
Almost Naked in some ways sounded like a combination of many love experiences you have had. With If It Comes Down To It, some songs feel you’re talking to one person in particular.
Yeah, definitely. Almost every single track has one specific point; whether it be a person, place, feeling, or habit. They all have their own little inspiration. I feel like some songs on this album are collective. Lots of different people can relate to them, especially because there are a couple of songs that aren’t just about love.
One of them that stood out to me was ‘Difficult.’ You run down all these monotonous things where we have to do when we become an adult. It taxes you. I feel that many people have gone introspective with the pandemic. Rediscovering hobbies and life purposes. Have you done the same?
Well, I took a break from work because I was a bartender. So, that definitely was pretty eye-opening. Just to take some time off, focus on music, and not the nine to five. With ‘Difficult,’ I used to spend a lot of time on the road and it was so much fun. We just kind of we ran off and did our own thing. I would miss it so much, but you know, you got to play the game to change the rules. You got to do the thing, go to work, tie the shoes, and get there. In my case, I have hope that one day of not having to do any of that shit anymore.
With ‘Rabbit Hole,’ there’s an arrangement in the chorus where it does feel like you’re falling down a rabbit hole. How did you approach composing this album? This one sounds and feels a lot more earthy.
Yeah, we kept it a little less electric. More raw. More instrumentation. There were hardly any synthesizers. It was just all live-off-the-floor type stuff. We just wanted to keep it that way. ‘Rabbit Hole’ was written that way, so we kept it, and then we felt so it would work with the rest of the album. My roots are pretty folky and rock, so it was good to keep that kind of vibe going for this EP.
‘Quantum Physics’ was the first song you wrote on classic guitar. Some of your best songs are the ones that have one singular instrument and your voice at the forefront.
‘Quantum Physics,’ was written the same way as ‘Rabbit Hole.’ Very natural, just raw, and written around six in the morning. It’s such a cool, flamenco vibe. I enjoy practicing fingerpicking and strumming. It’s different from acoustic or electric. It has its own body, a little more reserved, and has a laid back sound.
You’re never one to be shy about showing your flaws and you speak to that on ‘Quantum Physics.’ It’s you asking someone will you love me through the good and bad. We can’t be physically near each other, but getting to know people through conversation is paramount at the current stage.
Yeah, I know. I would say just how our society is going, it’s getting weirder and weirder to determine how to be with one person. How do you let your guard down and be with one person, you know? It’s definitely a tricky time. I think the pandemic slowed everybody down a little. It was ‘bad bitch summer,’ and then it was like, “Oh shit, I’m actually sad as fuck and I want to cuddle with someone.”
The pandemic swerved society quite a bit. I feel like love is just one of those things that people were not exactly looking for until lately. That being said, I just see ‘Quantum Physics as that limbo where neither of you really know. Neither of you really know if you’re both committed or not. It’s like that shitty feeling of being in between. It sucks.
We talked about ‘Last Cigarette,’ last time, and I mentioned like the animalistic feeling it gave. The howling at the moon. ‘Fox’ has that, but more geared towards craving a person. A bluesy, sexy song that you mention saying that it’s clean, but also dirty.
Yeah, thank you. It’s about a gentleman. A gentleman I used to serve at my old bar.
It’s an older gentleman. He doesn’t know it’s about him. Total Fox. Just classic, like lusty cravings. No doubt.
My last question for you is about the intro and outro of ‘Long Way Down.’ You use the word infinity in two different ways. First in what you and a potential lover can achieve. Then saying goodbye to someone and being at peace at what they can obtain without you. It’s a mature way to look at things.
‘Long Way Down’ was a weird one. We like found old stuff, and it created this vibe. Then it was like, “holy fuck, this is perfect for starting the end.” The end, we wrote after, and as you said, it’s kind of good closing. I’m letting go. I had gotten out of a crazy relationship too – a really long one last year. It was healthy, though.
It shows when you’re letting go, but you both left each other with good things to work with. Like, you don’t need me this time, but you got infinity. You taught me how to stay in and I taught you how to go out type of thing. We have to go our separate ways type of deal, but it’s also that some people will not be in your life forever. And you can’t be in people’s lives forever. Honestly, leave that legacy behind and those good vibes and you’re good.
Listen to If It Comes Down To It here.