Boston’s Ruby Rose Fox closed out 2014 with a successful residency at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge, Mass., a “Best Female Vocalist” award at the Boston Music Awards, and some improvements to her band. It was a good year for the singer-songwriter, one that also saw the release of two singles, “Die Pretty” and “Unusual Grace.” But, according to Fox, who fronts an eight-piece band, 2015 is shaping up to be even better.
After touring with Martha Davis and the Motels this spring, Fox was left inspired. “It was amazing to meet a female rock singer and writer. It can be hard for a woman in this business, because we don’t have many role models, people to look up to, or that I could talk to.” Fox discovered a mentor in Davis, and by the end of the tour found herself and her own backup singers onstage, performing with Davis.
Fox and her band bring their soul-driven, edgy rock ’n’ roll to The Music Hall Loft on Friday, July 10. “We really strive to put on a show,” says Fox. “It will be a rock show format, but because of the size of the room it’s going to feel intimate,” she says. “People are going to be hearing a lot of different stuff from us.”
The Boston Globe named Ruby Rose Fox one of its 10 acts to watch this year, but Fox herself has been part of the Boston music scene for years — she was the lead singer for the Brookline-based ska band Mass. Hysteria when she was still a teenager. Not always a music maker, Fox studied theater at Emerson College, but after several years working as an actor, she was feeling restless. “I was getting frustrated with the lack of roles for women,” says Fox.
Her playwriting wasn’t making waves in the way she wanted either. “Everybody has a talent, and writing for theater is not my gift.” Fox made the move to songwriting three years ago. She soon realized that the sentiments she couldn’t figure out how to express in theater started to make more sense as lyrics. “It was a medium I could channel my crazy ideas into, and the response I got from audiences (was one) I’d always craved from theater, but couldn’t ever achieve,” she says.
Fox also wants to connect with her fans. She and the band are recording and touring extensively this year. Their latest singles, “Blue Angel” and “Good Friday,” are defiantly truthful with an intense, gut-thumping musicality in which fans and newcomers alike can lose themselves. The band is currently in the early stages of a crowdfunding campaign to produce their first full-length album. “It’s feeling a little dark at the moment,” Fox admits. “There are so many good sides to being an independent artist at the moment, but there is also a weird paradigm where people feel like music should be free. So asking for support upfront comes with its challenges.”
“I am definitely there to perform, not just play music.” — Ruby Rose Fox
This isn’t the first time that Fox has utilized community to release her music. Back in 2012, she successfully orchestrated a Kickstarter campaign to produce her self-titled solo EP, recorded at the Mystic Steamship Co. in Arlington, Mass.
“Today, artists are forced to make deep connections with their fans,” she says. “And, really, that’s why we do what we do — to be connected.” For Fox, those connections balance out the difficulties of making music independently.
Fox’s lyrics reflect her “deep affection” for Leonard Cohen, and her respect for playwrights Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. “Their writing is really saying something,” says Fox. “The way they use a line or a pause, the story unfolds from something simple, but you don’t know where it’s going. It’s not what you are used to hearing, but in so many ways it’s so much more true than what we usually say.”
Fox’s theatrical roots are still present in her music, both through her lyrical storytelling and her live performances. “It’s not a spectacle, but it’s definitely a show,” says Fox. “I am definitely there to perform, not just play music.”
Ruby Rose Fox performs Friday, July 10 at 8 p.m. at The Music Hall Loft, 131 Congress St., Portsmouth. Tickets are $15 and are available at themusichall.org.