Photo Credit: Angelina Castillo
Everything we experience today, good or bad, eventually worms its way into shaping up into who we are tomorrow. Something not many realize until tomorrow is a distant memory, but that is just one of the ideas explored in this back and forth with Rich Ruth as we discussed not only the new record that’s out now, ‘I Survived, It’s Over,’ EMDR therapy, and more.
Kendra: Being a freelance writer I often find myself having to write in ways that aren’t always my style. So I do my own blogs and a podcast to reinvigorate my creativity. For you, was that part of the reason you decided to start focusing on composing on your own back in 2018?
Rich Ruth: I think to some extent I was going through a similar process, though experimental music was always what I actually wanted to be doing. When I was younger I never saw any tangible way of making that work in any kind of serious context. From the time I was 15 or so, I just always viewed playing the guitar in a band as the way to pursue music. It wasn’t until my touring schedule cleared up that I started to truly focus on the music I’d been obsessing over since college, things like Can, Eno, Alice Coltrane, Steve Reich, McCoy Tyner, etc. I just tried to tune into the factors that gave it life and movement, beyond just aesthetics. It was a somewhat concentrated effort, but less changing my scenery and more of a full immersion into art I’d already been inspired by.
Kendra: Your latest single, “Desensitization and Reprocessing” has this ominous feel to it, and I know you pulled from the likes of EMDR therapy for it. Would you say that experience has sort of the same vibe to it at all?
Rich Ruth: To me, EMDR was a very intense, lucid, and emotional experience. Throughout the making of this whole record, there was always an undercurrent of past memories, angst, and trauma beneath whatever sounds were being made at the time. Making this music is a daily practice and meditation for me and is typically a sonic manifestation of whatever is going on deep inside. So yes, EMDR was a more purposeful manifestation of the same emotions being explored in the music. The conveyance is similar to the result of EMDR – tension, introspection, intense emotions, and hopefully resolution. A bit of a cosmic gumbo.
Kendra: On the flip side, “Taken Back” took me back to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when I’d watch gritty cop shows with my mom. Are you inspired much by the small screen when you sit down to create?
Rich Ruth: Not particularly. When I am at home for periods of time, I spend some time every day working on new ideas and constantly revisiting months-old pieces. I rarely ever am deliberately trying to pull from a specific source of inspiration. Obviously, my musical tastes and inspirations are going to come through in a lot of ways. Once cohesive ideas start to make sense together, I often spend time after attempting to look back and define the inspiration and meaning of it all.
Kendra: All of the above and more can be found on your August 2022 release, ‘I Survived, It’s Over.’ One hell of a title given the reality we’re living in. With that, do you feel that the things we often survive are truly ever over, or will they always be in the back of our minds as a haunting reminder?
Rich Ruth: Every experience, positive or negative, has compounded together to make me who I am. I don’t know that anything is truly over. I got that title from a chart my therapist showed me after the first round of EMDR. The first column was asking how you felt in the moment of the trauma, while the second was the feeling you want to associate with the memory.
I chose ‘I Survived, It’s Over’ – it just had a really poignant feel that kicked me in the gut. It sat in my consciousness for a few weeks and I decided I’d call the record the same thing. It just felt like something most could relate to after the past few years. Whether or not anything is actually over, I think it is a positive mantra to know that you did in fact survive and move on.
Kendra: Time for a side note – with it being summertime, I’d love to know your favorite memory from this season whether it was from your childhood or more recent…
Rich Ruth: Most of my life, I’ve gone up to Northern Michigan every summer with my family. It’s such a serene, beautiful place where I can reset myself – swim, go fishing, and spend time with my family.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘I Survived, It’s Over’ out now, so what’s next for you? Touring?
Rich Ruth: That’s the idea. We’ve got some shows in the works for the fall and onward. I’m really excited to show people this material in a live setting, the few shows we’ve played have been absolutely transcendent. I’ll also be finishing up my new record.