Introducing Interview: Red Ribbon

Following the release of last year’s album Planet X, and 2018’s Dark Party, LA based artist Red Ribbon is now heading over to our shores for her first ever UK tour. With a London date planned at The Victoria a week today on 19th October with support from GIHE fave, Ailsa Tully, we can’t wait to witness her captivating sounds live. If gritty, ethereal soundscapes and sweeping celestial vocals, interwoven with a twinkling folk-strewn musicality, are your thing then you should definitely join us there!

Prior to her setting out on tour, we caught up with Red Ribbon to find out about what inspires her, the influences behind her latest album, the power of fear and more… Have a read!

Hi Red Ribbon! Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
Thank you so much! I am currently based out of Los Angeles. I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest, but had a bit of a transient upbringing and moved around the United States growing up.  That has given me a dual perspective of both knowing how to get along with all kinds of people, yet always sort of feeling like an outsider everywhere. I always have a soft spot for underdogs.

Are you able to tell us a bit about how and why you initially started creating music? 
I was in the grade school choir and band as a little kid.  There was also an acoustic guitar and a piano in my home growing up, so I’d play around on those when I was small. Nothing exceptional, just kid stuff. I don’t think anybody really saw musical potential in me or anything, but I was always drawn to it. What really got me going was when I studied classical violin when I was about eighteen.  I began busking alone in San Francisco, and that is when I realized I loved to perform as a musician, and that I could do it as a job. Sort of in conjunction with that, I began messing around on the electric guitar to write songs, and yeah, I was hooked.

We love your beautifully twinkling sounds , but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Elliott Smith, The Velvet Underground, The Pacific Northwest’s underground DIY music scene…

You released your Planet X album last year. Are you able to tell us a bit about what inspired it and the themes running throughout it?
I recorded the album mostly in Brooklyn January of 2020, right before things really shut down. A few tracks were also recorded in Tornillo Texas (along the Mexican border) and in Seattle Washington, where I was living at the time. I was very influenced by touring my first studio record, Dark Party. Me and my band had the chance to do some lengthy touring in 2019. There was a knowing that we all had going into recording – the American political climate was reaching a fever pitch of horror. I think we knew perhaps something was going to break – though I don’t think any of us imagined how it would play out exactly. I built the visual world of that record as an escape from the disasters of 2020 and 2021. It was my place to go to, colourful and strange.

You’re coming over to the UK this month for a little tour (including a London date with GIHE fave Ailsa Tully), which is super exciting! What can fans expect from your live shows?
I am so excited! This is my first solo tour and my first UK tour. Really I’m looking at this as a tour surrounding the album I’m working on now. I am taking some of the songs from this tour into the studio when I get back to Los Angeles.  I will also be playing some of my favourite songs from my previous albums of course!

And have there been any gigs you’ve played in the past that stand out as particular highlights for you?
I love playing in unusual places, under a freeway with a generator for example! But I think these upcoming shows will be some of my favourite ever, because I am afraid of them, haha. I know that sounds funny, but there is power in becoming the fear! You know, I am travelling very far, and alone. It is fairly dangerous. Sometimes that is exactly what music needs. It’s really about the ‘X Factor’ – the unexplainable magic vibe – that makes a show killer. A little danger is good.

How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? And do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and queer/LGBTQ+  artists? 
There is a song by Gillian Welch called ‘Everything is Free’ that I think sums up things better than I can.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists you’re loving right now that you’d recommend we check out?
Absolutely!  I’ve been really loving the tracks that Cold Mega has been putting out – ‘Swinging the Dog’ is so good. Also some of my most favourite musicians and collaborators, Sheridan Riley and Abbey Blackwell have formed the new rhythm section for the Canadian band Alvvays, and the new record they put out is honestly a triumph. I am so proud of them. My former label mates Momma are also absolutely crushing it right now, they have been hitting the road hard the past few months and I think the world is noticing.

Aside from the tour, what does the rest of the year have in store for Red Ribbon? 
I am close to finishing my next record in Los Angeles. I have been working on it since March of this year. This is a different approach for me.  More of a long-game approach versus you know, seven days in a row at the studio or whatever. Though admittedly musicians always are most excited by their current work, in my opinion it is the best stuff I have ever done. I can’t wait to share these songs with you! The world is opening up again. I didn’t get to tour my last album Planet X much, since it was released during the pandemic. Personally, I didn’t have the desire to be the first back out on the road. But with this tour, and with this new record, I am finally ready. I am relentless in my drive to just keep going.

Massive thanks to Red Ribbon for answering our questions!

If you’re London based, catch her live at The Victoria in Dalston on 19th October – tickets here.

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