Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Ruiz! You’re no stranger to our site as our readers will know.
What have you been up to since the last time we spoke?
Well, since we last spoke I think we all went through another lockdown, but unlike last time when all schools stopped and work was set, we were live teaching and delivering a full curriculum to our students. Who would have thought that sitting in front of a screen and talking instead of standing before a group of people would be so much harder and be so emotionally draining. I’ve done a lot of that. I’ve been having lots of fun with Hani and Alba (my twins) who are now four and half. We have very funny and surreal conversations daily.
Musically I finished off the last single, got some CDs pressed with gorgeous covers (available from the website – wink wink), getting the album ready at the moment, and I’ve continued writing lots of new songs. The website is actually new. It’s got a lot of my songs and videos on it, as well as lyrics and a bio. There are links to some of my previous bands on it too, so if you fancy finding out about my musical past, have a look! www.ruizmusic.net
Your music has been coined Iberian Psych. Can you explain exactly what that is?
Well, that’s a very good question indeed. My background genetically is Catalan, so that’s the Iberian connection. Jon McClure, aka Rev, from Sheffield band Reverent and the Makers heard my first single, Morning, and sent me a text expressing his like of it and added, ’defo down for some Iberian Psych me.’ I was happy with that and as a consequence it’s stuck. Cheers Jon!
Can you give us an idea of who your influences are as well?
I would say since a very young age I’ve been fascinated musically and unbeknown to me, my mind’s been absorbing it all and storing it. Now I’ve started writing and recording, it’s unravelling and coming out. I’m a massive fan of the psychedelic music of the 60s, as well as a lot of the chilled sounds. I’m talking about Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Love, Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Bowie etc but especially them four mop-tops from Liverpool, the Beatles. I love the guitars of heavier bands, Sabbath, Led Zep and so on. The Punk Movement and New Wave also changed my interests and I love a lot of the music from then, Adam & the Ants, Siouxsie and the Banshees (first band I ever saw!), Stranglers, Police, Paul Weller’s Jam, XTC, Squeeze, The The through to the Teardrop Explodes. I love electronic music and always found the sounds made by synths fascinating, so from Kraftwerk (a lot of Krautrock actually), O.M.D., The Human League, Depeche Mode through to more contemporary acts (WARP – there’s a label). I love all the Manchester bands, the Mondays and the Roses. The Smiths, Joy Division/New Order… I love old school hip-hop, De La Soul, Public Enemy, NWA, Eric B and Rakim. The Acid House days were fun at the Hacienda. I especially loved Humanoid by Stakker, and A Guy Called Gerald’s Voodoo Ray still sounds so fresh. I love all that American chaos too. Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, Nirvana, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion… I really love Ska (original and the rebirth Two Tone etc) and Reggae. I loved Brit Pop; Blur, Pulp and the amazing and yet surprisingly globally unknown Longpigs, who’s The Sun is Often Out lp should be in the top 20 albums ever. Teenage Fanclub, Super Fury Animals, Smashing Pumpkins, REM, Bob Mould… The beat goes on. I’ve put together some playlists on the Ruiz! Spotify page of bands that have influenced me from the various decades, although I need to add 2000 onwards. At the moment Working Men’s Club, Dry Cleaning, Idles are all so good but I am especially loving Arlo Parks. All of these bands I find influence me to be honest.
You’ve recently released your latest single ‘Blue Mediterranean. Can you tell us about the track?
The Mediterranean is a place where as a family we used to go to every summer. On my mum’s side of the family we are from Sitges , 40 kms south of Barcelona. My childhood was amazing until I hit the age of 4, my father, who was a workaholic alcoholic, began to struggle to keep his anger inside, and let’s say his demons manifested themselves in my presence, he was at times very violent and a very heavy handed man. I would often run away, and find peace staring out at the sea. These memories are of a place where I took myself when I needed to find inner happiness. It’s a song about struggling mentally, finding your feet dragging you through life as they carry you along, ploughing through life’s chaos, day in, day out. Days fading into days as misery piles up around you. It’s a reminder that breathing and looking for your happy place is so important. It’s not all rubbish, talking is vitally important. Don’t just carry that weight.
Are there any themes or narratives that link the track to your previous releases?
They’re quite heavy themes coming out. These are songs that I’ve subconsciously written, maybe exorcising my own demons? So, yes there are themes and narratives that flow. They are optimistic with it. Keep breathing and get off your knees. Look up, the sun is shining. Find your inner happiness, keep on keeping on! It’s become my mantra…
Lockdown is now hopefully behind us. What methods did you use for getting through the last 12 months?
Writing music, remembering that it’s global and that it will all end well, one day! I’ve been focussing on music more than anything else. Breathing and smiling at adversity! Optimism yes, pessimism sucks.
How did it affect your creativity?
Did you find it stifled or were you able to use it to your advantage? If there had been no Covid and as such, no Lockdown, I may never have written a single song. I am totally new at this. It’s been a year since Lockdown 1.0 kicked in. I released Blue Mediterranean a year to the week Lockdown 1.0 was enforced. What a ride!
With the country seemingly on its way back to normal. What’s in the pipeline for Ruiz! as things hopefully return to how they were?
The album is due to drop late May, early June. It’s going to be called Mind Games as all the songs have come into fruition from deep inside my mind and bizarrely only on listening back to them have I found a message. It’s like an open letter from my subconsciousness to myself and cap off to John W Lennon of Liverpool.
Also, I need to get a band together asap. I have the majority of the members sorted but I still need a lead guitarist. Luckily living in Sheffield I’ve met a load of extremely talented folk.
The music industry seems to be changing at quite an alarming rate, for a number of reasons. What’s your biggest annoyance within the industry and how would you go about changing that?
At the moment it’s really frustrating getting people interested in listening (present company excepted), let alone reviewing new and unbacked music. Covid has almost crippled the Music Industry and getting it back up and running is going to take some time.
I hope that the government will inject much needed cash into it, and get venues and bands back on the road ASAP!
Where can we check out your stuff online?
Most of my music is now on my website: www.ruizmusic.net. It’s also available on all major streaming platforms and YouTube. Search for Ruiz! I’d add the names of the songs as there are quite a few of us on this planet.
Finally, any partying words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?
Never underestimate what you are capable of doing. It is a good world, be-it sometimes difficult to see the light. And of course, keep on keeping on