Interview: Ruarri Joseph


Ruarri Joseph’s fourth studio album, Brother is set to be released on 25th March. This week, Thank Folk For That were lucky enough to catch up with him to discuss the record, life on the road and most importantly, the possibility of being represented as a bronzed God in order to sell music.

Greetings from Waikeratu, New Zealand. I’m momentarily living it up in NZ (pretty big deal for a Manchester gal) and must ask first of all, how much do you miss this wonderland?

Yeah, I’ve got a definite desire to head back over some day, revisit some haunts and what not.  I was a teenager at the time so I probably didn’t appreciate its beauty in the way I should have done.  Plus, it’s not like I was on holiday, I went to school and lived in a small farming community in the middle of nowhere so as a teen. Escape was probably the only thing on my mind.  Escape and girls!

Since being over here, I’ve noticed there is a definite trend in kiwi music tastes. Would you say that your time spent in New Zealand had any long-standing influence on the music you make today?

There was no internet where we lived and only three TV channels at the time, so discovering music was a lot of pot luck, buying things based on the cover or taping stuff from friends etc. We listened to a lot of American punk and rock music, but my real passion was trying to make my own. There were no venues that would have teenagers playing there, so we did a lot of busking and put together a tour of schools for lunch time crowds.  If NZ had an influence, it was learning how to do stuff on your own without any help. I don’t remember much of the music scene other than going to a gig by a band called the Feelers, who were supposedly New Zealand’s best band and being sourly disappointed. Shihad were pretty good though actually.

You’ve been on tour for a while now, do you enjoy being on the road?

It’s going really well actually. Being indie and relying on word of mouth for the main publicity, it’s always a surprise because you don’t know how much people have been talking. I enjoy playing the gigs but this tour is completely solo and I could live without the driving and waiting around on my own all the time. But it does mean I put all my efforts into the shows and I can’t wait to play because it’s the only time I get to talk to people!

You once said that you wanted Brother to be a record that people could sing along to. How are you enjoying playing songs from the album to a live audience? Is the mass sing-along working out as planned?

Ha it will, eventually I’m sure.  Just sharing the songs is very cathartic for me at the moment so I’m loving it.

Where would you say that the majority of your musical inspiration comes from? Do you find day to day events equally as stirring as the more dramatic moments in life?

I tend to play music based on mood, and I’m self-taught so it’s a case of noodling around until I stumble on something that peaks my interest. The music is more the bed for the lyrics to sit on.  Lyrically I like to expel the things that are on my mind that I either can’t articulate or get my head round. That can be big stuff, like your friend passing away or little stuff like a drawing that your kid does of you.

Are you excited about the release of Brother into the big, wide world?

Yes definitely, can’t wait!

Do you find album releases a nerve-wracking experience?

Not really, no. I just get my head down and play the shows. Releasing a record involves a lot of business type stuff that turns my brain to porridge and it feels pretty out of my hands once the ball gets rolling.  Maybe I’m foolish to take that stance, but for me the music has always been the thing I wanted to focus on.  If someone wants to figure out a strategy on how best to market and sell it, they can go ahead so long as they run their ideas past me at some point to make sure they haven’t photoshopped my face onto some bronzed God or anything. If it’s meant to do well, it’ll do well and if it ain’t, it ain’t. No point getting worried about it.

The video for Until The Luck Runs Dry is lush, tell us about it. Where was it filmed?

It’s killer right?  I’m so stoked with it.  It was filmed out at a little beach called Park Head up the North coast of Cornwall. You can only get to it by climbing down the cliffs and once the tide starts coming in, you better run for it because it bombs for it!

Would you be at all tempted to head back to your Southern Hemisphere stomping ground to shoot a music video? Surely the rural landscape would be a perfect match for the folky goodness that is rife throughout Brother?

If you can find someone to fund that little venture, I’ll be there with bells on. Although there’s always the danger of it looking like a Flight of the Conchords rip off.

What do you have lined up for the summer? Will we be able to catch you at any festivals?

Yeah, for sure. A bunch of festivals and hopefully some warmth. Looking forward to it all.

Questions by Jessica Newsome


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