The Best 6 in the 6ix: Ruby Waters

The Toronto music scene is an eccentric, diverse branch of this ever-growing city that is crawling with original artists and musicians in pursuit of their big break. With iconic venues such as The Danforth Music Hall, Lee’s Palaxe and the Horseshoe Tavern - which has hosted icons such as The Rolling Stones - it is no surprise that some of Canada’s aspiring artists have chosen this city to lay the foundations of their careers.

Over the coming weeks, we will be featuring six artists and musicians as part of our new series: The Best 6 in the 6ix. Discussing their creative process, these artists will be telling all on how they got started, moving to Toronto and the challenges of breaking into one of the toughest industries there is.

The first in our series is newcomer Ruby Waters. Check out her interview below.

 

(All photos by Joel Presant.)

 

At the young age of four, Ruby Waters was singing. At eight, her father started to teach her the guitar, and by 17 she had moved to British Columbia. Now, at 21, she is living in Toronto and preparing to release original music in November.

It seems Waters was always going to be a musician. When her parents met, her dad was the guitarist in a Led Zeppelin tribute band, and her mom was in a band called Ruby. They started a country band, tour Canada from coast to coast and having two kids in the process. 

Hailing from country dirt roads near small town Shelburne, Ont., it’s easy to see where Waters’ warm persona comes from. Leaving the family that are at the heart of her story, she is now in Toronto working tirelessly to release new music.

“Toronto is close to home, which is one of the reasons I moved here, but mainly the music scene,” she says. “I was playing a show here when I met my current managers and they asked me if I wanted to move to Toronto and work together. So, I said f*ck it! I’ve got to go.”

This happened after two years of moving back and forth from home to B.C. It was during these nomadic years that Waters experimented with her music and, like most 18-year-olds, tried to figure out what her next steps were.                                “I had an acid trip in B.C and wrote myself a note saying ‘Go to Toronto, take the opportunity and run with it. Do not travel until you’re at a good place in your career,’” she laughs. “So, I did it. And even though not traveling is killing me, it has been paying off career-wise. I think patience is key. Work hard and if you make mistakes, it’s not over. Just keep going.”

While preparing for her release next month, Waters recently opened for Toronto-born artist Serena Ryder (of Stompa fame) at three Ontario gigs in Markham, Guelph and St. Catharines. She is currently working with different producers, which has evolved her sound as an artist.

“My personal writing process varies. It’s multiple brains coming together as part of a bigger project,”  Waters says. “But when I’m writing as a solo artist, I’d say it’s 80 per cent passion and 20 per cent structure. I like to find a happy medium within that.”

Considering the #MeToo movement and proactive feminism, women in all industries are working together to make change. The New York Times reported this year that gender diversity in the music industry might be worse than Hollywood, with an analysis of the top 600 songs from 2012 to 2017 showing that just over 20 per cent of the artists included were women. Furthermore, of the 899 nominees from the last six Grammy’s, only 9 per cent were female.

“I think now is a good time for me to be doing this. Now more than ever there is an awareness,” Waters says. “There is no set standard of what a woman is.”

“A woman can be anything. I’m sure there are hard times to come for me personally but right now, everything is changing and I don’t have to face half the stuff women used to in this industry.”

 

The Toronto music scene has welcomed Waters with open arms as she expresses her love for the people here, defining them as those who “want real music.”

Despite taking influence from the likes of Nirvana, The Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse, Waters doesn’t like labelling her sound.

“I like to write stuff that people can sing along to and I wouldn’t place myself in one category. I think it’s becoming possible to not be part of one genre.”

Ruby Waters’ first single “Sweet Sublime” will be released in November with a Toronto showcase (date TBA). With plans to travel and see where her music release takes her, Waters will be one to lookout for.

“I do want to go to the U.S and once there’s music out there, I want to do a little Okanagan tour in B.C. There’s definitely things on the backburner,” she says.

“I’ll conquer the world eventually.”

You can listen to an acoustic version of "Sweet Sublime" here.