Nancy Ruth fuses her love of jazz, Latin music, experimental rock and flamenco to create her fun and dance-fusing sound. Having learned about jazz and classical music as a young girl in British Columbia, she has taken her love of music and has been making it all over the world; Morocco, Brunei, Polynesia and Panama. The culture and atmosphere from these cities have a profound impact on Ruth and her music. She currently makes her home in Malaga, which is a historic Spanish town in Mediterranean Costa del Sol.
Ruth’s new single “Todo Para Ti,” is filled with flamenco; featuring guitar, American jazz and flamenco bulería, and features Ruth’s strong and passionate vocals. She discusses her new single with us, performing all over the world, her music video for “Todo Para Ti,” and what’s next for her throughout the year.
What are your earliest memories of being drawn to music, particularly jazz?
Nancy Ruth: When I was about 9 years old, my dad, who was a hobby drummer, held a big jam session at our house in the woods. There was a really great pianist playing, and when I heard him talk about #11s and b5s I so wanted to know what he was talking about. Then a couple of singers showed up and as I watched and listened, I knew that was going to be my future. Still feels like one of the most exciting days of my life.
You’ve made music all over the world; what place has had the most profound and memorable musical impact on you?
Nancy Ruth: Certainly coming to Spain felt like coming to my musical home. Flamenco, even with all its rhythm complexity, felt naturally familiar to me. I also had the most incredible experience once in Morocco. I was playing music with a group of musicians in Tiznit, an ancient city in the south, and despite our lack of a common language, gender, culture, religion, or even a musical scale, we made the most incredible improvised music.
Your new single “Todo Para Ti” is jazzy, groovy with tons of your vocal energy. What was the writing influence behind this song?
Nancy Ruth: The song is based on a traditional flamenco rhythm called a bulería, using the Andalusian cadence. The lyric ‘para it, todo para ti…’ came as I was jamming on the progression, and then I thought it’d be interesting to write English verses to contrast the Spanish chorus (which means ‘for you, all for you..’). It’s a song that reflects both my Spanish and Canadian sides.
How were you connected to your director, Jorge Perez, for its music video?
Nancy Ruth: I contacted a few directors in Southern Spain, and I chose him because he quickly took charge of the project, and did a great job of organizing his production team. It was a pleasure to work with him.
What’s next for you through this year?
Nancy Ruth: Writing, recording, and TOURING!!! We’re doing two big shows in Spain in the next weeks, and then we’re off to perform in Africa’s biggest jazz festival, the Saint Louis Jazz Festival in Senegal.
Who was your first concert? Have an overall favorite, thus far?
Nancy Ruth: First concert I attended as a teenager was Rush. A great Canadian rock band. I was enthralled by Neil Peart’s massive drum setup. Favourite? Oh boy, where to start. A Moroccan orchestra I heard in Marrakech recently had me totally mesmerized.
What was your first record on cassette, vinyl and/or CD?
Nancy Ruth: My first record was on cassette. An album of jazz standards. I’m glad it was never digitalized 😉
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
Joni Mitchell – Hejira
Estrella Morente – Mi Cante Y Un Poema
Led Zeppelin – II
Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
What are you currently listening to, reading and/or watching?
Nancy Ruth: I’m so busy writing this year that I’ve pretty much tuned out to popular music and culture. I don’t have a TV. I listen to the waves, and the music in my head, and try to write it down as quickly as it comes to me.
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
Nancy Ruth: I love standup comedy – not really a guilty pleasure but a great way to give my musical brain a break.