The Ruby Suns are a New Zealand based folk/pop group led by California native Ryan McPhun. Their 2008 album, Sea Lion, was a personal favorite of mine, and so it was my great pleasure to ask Ryan a few questions about his life as a musician. For your listening pleasure, here's an unreleased song called "Dusty Fruit" that will be on their new album. Enjoy it while you read!
The Ruby Suns - Dusty Fruit
fork/knife: What is the New Zealand music scene like? How is it unique?
Ryan: Well it's very small. A bit insular at times. The touring bands all seem to know each other. But to be honest, we were away for almost all of 2008 so I feel like we missed a lot and I definitely don't feel like we're part of any kind of scene. We have our friends and that's that. There aren't any bands doing anything like what we're doing around here. It’s unique because people seem to do only what they want to do. There's no big scene to be a part of so bands have little reason to follow any kind of trend or whatever.
f/k: There's no doubt that technology is changing the way that people get music. What do you think about the new role that the internet is playing in the music industry? What effect has it had on your band? Where do you think it's going to lead?
R: I really like how the internet has made more music available to more people. It’s great!
f/k: What's it like having your song "Oh, Mojave" in a Microsoft commercial?
R: It was really weird, and a really tough decision. But in the end I decided to go with it for a few different reasons. I haven't really earned any money since I had a full time job like four years ago so it's nice to be able to relax a little bit about that for a little while. Plus after that we could actually afford to go on the tour that we were on at the time. It’s pretty hard to make money touring and playing music. Maybe unless you're Coldplay or something.
f/k: I love the way your record sounds low-fi and distorted. Can you give a brief overview of the recording process that you used for the album?
R: Easy! I just recorded everything too loud. That’s basically it. Lots of doubling up on instruments as well. Plus I used cheap shitty mics.
f/k: I think a great feature of your band is the way your band members blend their vocal harmonies. What kind of practice have you used to hone the singing skills? Do you change around the harmonies in your live shows?
R: Well to be honest it's mostly me on the recordings. Since last June we've been a two-piece so the emphasis has been less on the vocals than on the music. The two of us still sing all the time though. So yeah the vocal arrangements live are quite different form the recordings. Practice? Listening to Beach Boys records!
f/k: What's the best part about being in The Ruby Suns? The worst?
R: Being able to travel lots of different places that I wouldn't have gone to if I wasn't touring. Getting to meet lots of other awesome bands. We’ve met so many amazing people since we've been touring round the place. Maybe the worst thing is that it’s so expensive to tour and get around. We’re not a super huge band so we've never had a tour bus or even a tour manager for that matter. So it's a lot of work. It’s ok though. It’s not so bad at all.
We’d like to thank Ryan for taking the time to answer our questions in the midst of his busy schedule. Look for a new album from The Ruby Suns coming soon! Here are some links where you can find more of the band’s music. Stay tuned for more interviews from fork/knife!
The Ruby Suns MySpace
Official Band Website