In light of Red Bird Rising’s latest masterful release ‘Ruby’, we got a chance to have a conversation with the song’s makers to try to know more about their processes, creative, mental, and emotional, in their dealing with this song’s sensitive depths. We also got to ask them about their stories and about their plans with Red Bird Rising

  • Red Bird Rising. ‘Ruby’ is stunning. A serious and weighted piece of music. But essentially it is very dark. How would you compare the creative process behind composing such a dark song and another that’s not as sensitive.

I appreciate this, thank you. I will tell you that two things are true: The process is the same in every song in that I go as deep as I possibly can to exhaust all possibilities, but also, ‘Ruby’ had a unique responsibility, you are right.

I had to take breaks. I had to let it sit and walk around it waiting for the right opening to work on it. Over and over. Luciano, the producer/drummer/percussionist was extremely helpful. He understood it was effecting me to complete it and hung in there right with me the whole way. Immediately after I completed the vocal take, I sobbed like my chest would cave in.

REVIEW – Ruby by Red Bird Rising

  • With the first single being about the Russia-Ukraine War, and ‘Ruby’ about an abuse survivor, would you say that the newly formed Red Bird Rising will always be delivering those denser topics? Do you have a certain trajectory or path you’re moving towards with the songs you create for Red Bird Rising?

I think working with Taras Kuznetsov on the song and video for ‘My Revolution’ prepared me for taking on ‘Ruby’. To empathetically co-create with him every day for over 6 months while Taras was trying to survive and contend in Odessa showed me where my limitations are and where I could push harder. (I imagine living in Egypt you understand his experience of having so little control over circumstances due to crazy men with power and using music to contend).

To answer your question, many of the other songs on ‘Sonic Creatures’, the full length currently in production, touch upon sensitive layers of our experience of being human, yet none has required this amount of responsibility to the people inside it. It’s a privilege to be given access to their courageous struggle and an opportunity to deepen as an artist, so I’m open to work on songs like these two in the future.

  • With the song’s striking lines, directed at Ruby and other abuse survivors, how would you want those heavier lines, like “…your hope is real and yet gets tired and weak, week by week”, be perceived by listeners who share similar stories with Ruby? Don’t you think being faced with such honest lines can be a little daunting? What is your take on that?

Great question. There are moments and situations where stark honesty is the most helpful way to communicate. I feel there is a terrible loneliness for trauma survivors that comes from nonsurvivors relating to them as if their trauma is too sensitive and unique to speak openly with them about it. It’s like they are branded “extreme victim” and no longer belong with the whole of humanity. In the song, I am speaking only to Ruby here, and yet I believe that being very direct in illuminating her experience is more helpful to other survivors than by generalizing.

  • Why would you say we associate heavier lyrics like Ruby’s better with darker, less familiar music? For example, the progressions have a lot of dramatic chords, and the guitar arpeggios are loaded with dissonance, and this works in favor of the song’s more serious topics. Meaning that common pop progressions might seem a little out of place on such a song. Why do you think that is?

I appreciate you speaking to me about the music with terms that are in my everyday process like chord progressions, dissonance and arpeggios. (I listened to your album “Coming Of Age” and I like it).

To get more inside these composition tools, chord progressions are like the location and scene of a film. They inform the color, the depth of field, the transitions into other scenes and many other things. The dissonance is about tension and then releasing into consonance. Disharmony into harmony. Arpeggios in Ruby are about movement and the pace of the action in the scenes.

To create a sonic experience that expresses the immediacy of what Ruby is experiencing, I needed all these tools available in music and more. Some heavier topics are well expressed in simple pop progressions. Prince’s “Sign O’ The Times” comes to mind. Yet that song is more of a commentary on society. As a song, Ruby is happening right now to someone real and specific where I’m trying to convey her psychological and emotional reality the best I can.

REVIEW – Ruby by Red Bird Rising

  • How would you describe your creative process for this song? With the topic, it must have been easy to realize that you need a special piece of music to match the gravity of the lyrics and to deliver the meaning without getting in the way of the words. How do you approach such a challenge?

My sensibilities leaned toward classical music for writing and arranging Ruby. And in particular, opera. I felt tapping into how this art form works to tell stories that are tragically happening in real time to the characters seemed the best access point for Ruby. The intro with the operatic aria vocal is a way to inform the listener of this context. In another song on Sonic Creatures, East Coast jazz seemed like the best access point. In another, 80’s British Pop seemed the best. And in another, Tango seemed the best.

In Ruby, the lyrics needed to be delivered at a pace that could be immediately experienced. It would not serve the song to have them be inside a complex melody sung inside the fast movement of the rhythm.

REVIEW – Ruby by Red Bird Rising

  • Red Bird Rising. Getting things a little lighthearted to finish; how did you come up with such a cool name, any meaning or stories behind it?

Thank you, yeah I’m comfortable with heavy yet for balance I like to include the light as much as possible, especially with the people I collaborate with.

The origin of the name Red Bird Rising came from having attended a Native American Indian sweat lodge ceremony. Although I am part Cherokee Indian, I had not grown up relating to myself having a name from the animal world. These men in the ceremony found personal power and insight by identifying with an animal. It felt similar to how there’s a freedom as an artist creating with a name separate from one’s birth given name.

I didn’t then try and think up my own animal name. For months after the sweat lodge, I’d take walks or be looking out my window and a cardinal would fly down and rest near me. It had this feeling of personal meaningfulness in its visit. It kept happening. A sense of knowingness of its meaning to me felt communicated. At the time, I was filled with self doubt about if my full dedication to being an artist was the right path. It affirmed to me that it was.

  • And finally. What can fans of your music expect from you in the upcoming months? What are your plans? And if you would like to give any last words to our readers.

In the upcoming months, more singles will be released from ‘Sonic Creatures’ as they are completed, a video for Ruby and others will be produced, and then I begin work on the next album of songs already written.

Last words to your readers? If someone is a filmmaker and hears something in my music they feel an affinity with, I would enjoy collaborating on a song for a film. Or, if they feel inspiration to make a video for one of my songs, I enjoy this too. Cinematic is an intention I have in all my productions, yet to have a song with a visual compliment is very satisfying.

And to you, your questions were as thoughtful and poignant as your article on ‘Ruby’. It’s been a true pleasure and privilege. Thank you.

REVIEW – Ruby by Red Bird Rising