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Interview: Bitter Ruin

Photo: Joseph Shepherd

Bitter Ruin are a pretty special band. Fuelled by a mass of both talent and creativity, they’re a duo that are on the absolute peripheries of massive success. Naming Matt Lucas and Stephen Fry as fans, Georgia and Ben are currently unsigned and about to tour the UK, stopping by many cities for the first time and paying a long-awaited visit to their devoted fanbase. I had the chance to chat to Georgia from Bitter Ruin to discuss the tour, upcoming material and a pretty diverse set of inspirations.

You describe your music as ‘contemporary expressionism’ and continuously changing – how would you describe the Bitter Ruin of today?
Well, we still haven’t found the ‘perfect’ name for what we do, but we’re happy with that. Our music today is a playful combination of dark and light, we don’t take ourselves to seriously and yet we try to attack our work with the passion and authenticity we feel it deserves. Musically we experiment with vocals, guitar and songwriting in general, with hopes of finding the right style for the message.

Photo: Scott Chalmers

At The Sonic Reverie, I love to write about a massive array of artists – from metal to bubblegum pop so it’s nice to get a feel of both those worlds merging in Bitter Ruin’s music. Who influenced your music and what musicians are you listening to today?
We listen to a huge array of music – not only did we both study music history at University but we’re also determined to stay up to date with the current music scene.  Our current playlists include anything from Beethoven to Beyoncé and beyond! In particular, we’ve been following a select few artists who have recently emerged – St Vincent, Lonely Drifter Karen, Kimbra, Anna Calvi and Alt-J, and of course we’ll never forget our musical heroes like Jeff Buckley, Paco De Lucia, Antony and the Johnsons, Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey.

As a band doing well for themselves without a record label, would you ever consider signing to one?
Of course! We would love to share our music with a wider audience and a record label would be one way to do this. However, if we did, we would want a label that can support and nurture what we do without changing it and therefore we have to be very particular about the relationships we start, giving them time to develop and be explored in order to avoid disappointment!

Photo: Scott Chalmers

Are there any plans set for another full-length release following ‘The Rocket Sessions’?
Oh yes. Big plans. Eventually we’d like to combine lots of new material with a couple of the remakes like ‘A Brand New Me’ and ‘Trust’ in order to create a 11 or 12 track album that we can truly be proud of. This will be our main focus in 2013.

‘A Brand New Me’ is a beautiful and emotionally-driven track, what influenced the writing of that one?
Thank you, but If I told you that I’d have to shoot you, and all of your readers! 😉 Sorry but we don’t like to reveal the true meaning of certain songs – it’s important to allow your audience to find their own meaning.

I’m beyond excited to see you guys live for the first time in Nottingham on this upcoming tour; what can we expect from the live show?
We’re looking forward to having you there! As for what to expect, if you enjoy drama, passion, power, dynamics and poetry you’ll be happy!

Photo: Scott Chalmers

What are your favourite songs to perform live? The frantic chorus of ‘Trust’ must be a lot of fun.
We enjoy collaborating with other musicians and this can dramatically change the mood of a song so really our favourite songs to perform are ever changing. I (Georgia) really enjoy a vocal challenge and a performance piece like ‘Trust’, but occasionally it’s a wonderful experience to just sing and let people hear your natural, perhaps lazy voice.  For me this is best heard in ‘A Brand New Me’ where I rarely venture into ‘chest voice’ (one of many vocal registers) and allow my voice to crack and wobble wherever it so desires.

Since you managed to get Matt Lucas onstage with you, will we be seeing Stephen Fry join you onstage at any point in the future? 😉
Well we’d love him to! If ever he reads this he may consider it an official invitation.

So much about Bitter Ruin has been communicated through word of mouth and it feels like your fanbase, The Ruined, are pretty die-hard indeed. Do you have a message for all your supporters?
We hope our fans know that they mean everything to us. We promise to always make an effort to communicate with you all and to deliver our best performance at every show! You keep us going, honestly!

Despite having a limited budget, the material manages to easily compete and often better it’s mainstream peers but when asked to spare a few words about other artists, Georgia politely declines – we like to think we’re grounded enough to know that it’s not our place to judge anyone else’s creativity’. Not content with providing you with some brilliant music, I’m also happy to report that the folk behind it are friendly, charming and, thankfully, entirely relatable as Georgia goes on to admit – ‘ask us after a glass of wine (or four!) though and we might open up!’.

Bitter Ruin tour the UK next month and tickets are available here. Their releases, including the current ‘The Rocket Sessions’ EP, are available at their store. The band are also on Facebook & Twitter.


Interviewer: Simon McMurdo
Photos: Scott Chalmers & Joseph Shepherd

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