Ruby May Moon quietly dropped one of our favourite tunes of the year – the understated “Thirty-Three”. And according to cult dj Charlie Bones, it might just herald the emergence of a new genre: lushtronic.
And then we discovered there’s a whole EP: Ruby May Moments. This is a huge achievement for the Liveschool graduate, and one that sets Ruby May Moon up for what could be a break-out release. We caught up with Ruby May Moon aka Thomas to get a peek behind the curtain on the track, the EP and his creative process.
“Thirty-Three” effortlessly blends hints of classic 90’s French Rap with early-thousands filter funk, but underpinned by modern sampling and arrangement. The result is very cohesive – is this something you set out to achieve.
I’m never really thinking about genre – I’m only thinking about how it makes me feel. A good song is a good song, you know? I remember Mtume said in his Red Bull Music Academy talk that he ‘found his bpm’ and more or less only worked in and around that bpm (i think it was 92bpm(?)). So I guess that’s one way of sounding cohesive, but there are other ways! So whatever works for you.
One thing that really stands out across the whole “Moments” EP is the focus on atmospherics – do you have an overall atmosphere in mind when making tracks?
I usually start with a sample of something that has excited me and build from there. I tend to love big, emotional, never-ending chords. They pull on my heartstrings and they can transport me somewhere. So when I hear something that grabs me like that, I’ll often take it into Ableton and see if it will go in the direction I’m imagining it.
This “mood” or the atmospherics – i would say these things add up to create your specific sound. Is there any kind of advice you could give for someone looking to define a sound for themselves?
My friend Larry once said, really think about why you’re using a sound, where did it come from? Hone in on what’s getting you going and what’s not. Think about why you like a song so much, what is it that excites you about it? Is it a certain part? On the other hand, I remember reading a Mike Huckaby quote, where he said to explore and study the things you say you don’t like.
Theres a lot of really great textures and pads happening, (Bella, Thirty-Three, Yourself) are these synths or samples? How do you get these sorts of sounds?
A lot of what you’re referring to is stuff I’ve sampled. Usually, I’ll start the idea with these, and then go from there. The whole reason Yourself became a song was the 2-bar melody you can hear starting at 0:26. I heard that and just had to do something with it.
The breaks are really cool – what sorts of breaks are you looking for and how are you arranging / chopping / processing them?
Get as many drum sample packs as you can, from wherever you can. You can’t have too many drum samples. I play a lot of the drums in using a midi pad triggering a drum rack in Ableton. Yourself, for example, is all just individual drum samples played in this way, other than the odd ride loop or shaker. Bella, on the other hand, is mainly breaks so it just depends on what you’re going for. Drumming is where it all started for me, so I’ll play them in a lot of the time but sample things like pads or chords.
With breaks I’ll usually chop them up and EQ them. Other times I will leave them as is if it works. In terms of processing the drums, I’ve found Soundtoys to be amazing but sometimes the raw sample is good as is.
The record is quite sample heavy – What kind of qualities are you looking for when you’re looking for a sample?
I’m always searching for new music that I haven’t heard before, it’s an addiction. I try to listen to as many different things as I can. When something grabs me I get excited and I can hear a different way that it could go, or I can hear a beat under it when there might not be one. Then I try and take it there.
The EP has a sample of a big contemporary hip hop record – sampling this sort of stuff is pretty bold and can attract attention. How do you feel about the risks involved in this sort of approach?
Therein lies the beauty of making so little money from music streams I feel. If I understand correctly, the worst that can happen is the song gets taken down and I am to pay all money made from the song – which would be what? $5? So I think it’s worth the risk to just get it out there!
With a stand out record like this under his belt, Ruby May Moon is primed to make some big moves. We will be keeping a close eye out for the next release!