Moments in Between
Ruth B. on "Situation"
Life happened really fast for Ruth B., who parlayed a viral six-second Vine clip of her eventual hit single “Lost Boy” into a Juno-nominated 2017 debut album, Safe Haven. But for her follow-up release, the Edmonton singer-songwriter was determined to take her time, and accumulate the sort of life experience that yields great, timeless songs. In 2019, she moved to New York, reveling in the freedom of living on her own and soaking up the city’s creative energies. But when the COVID-19 pandemic sent her home in 2020, she had the opportunity to pause and reflect on what was truly most important to her. The result is Moments in Between, an album that not only taps a deeper vein of emotional honesty in her writing, but—in contrast to the polished, piano-laden pop of Safe Haven—also more accurately reflects the music dearest to her heart, be it the artful R&B of Frank Ocean or the classic acoustic serenades of The Beatles. “The dynamic of these songs is funny, because they come from very different points in my life,” the singer, born Ruth Berhe, tells Apple Music. “I really struggled with how to combine these two moments, and I thought maybe I would just have to restart and bin all the songs I wrote in New York. But eventually, we made it work, because it's just about being real. This is life: Sometimes you're exploring New York and having great times, and other times you're cooped up in your house during quarantine.” Here, she explores each of those Moments in Between.
“This was the very first song I wrote when I moved out to New York in March of 2019. I was sent on a blind-date writing session with a producer named Doug Schadt at his studio in Brooklyn. We bonded really quickly, which is unusual for me—I’m always nervous about getting in with writers. But instantly, I started telling Doug about what I was going through and how I was feeling at the time, which is very much in the song. It's about being on my own for the first time, and being afraid to ask for help, and never wanting to be a damsel in distress. I always want to fix everything on my own. So I came up with this concept of 'I'm not a princess, but I'll be your peach,' and then I thought the title 'Princess Peach' was really cute. When I hear this song, I can hear the fear in my voice of being in a new city. This song was the very start of a big adventure for me.”
“I really wanted to explore R&B and urban music, and [executive producer] Patrick [Wimberly] played me this beat and it just sounded like a holiday to me. It sounded like fun, it sounded like love, and just having a good time with champagne and all of it. It was just one of those quick songs.”
“I wrote ‘Situation’ while I was in New York, but it was at the very end of my stay. I wrote it with Ido Zmishlany—when he started playing those chords, I was like, 'I definitely want to write to this!' Particularly the bridge—melodically, it's just really stunning. I remember coming back from the studio and tweeting, 'I'm just so happy with where I'm at musically right now!'”
“This was written mid-pandemic, mid-political-warfare. I was back and forth with this song, just because the production is super different for me and not something I'm used to. But when you have all the time in the world, you want to challenge yourself to do something different. So I just started writing and being real, and the music itself inspired this honesty out of me, because everything in the world felt like it was falling apart right in front of me. And ever since I was a kid, anytime I'm sick or sad, my mom always makes me a cup of chamomile tea that's like the Band-Aid for everything.”
“This was the very first song I'd written for this album in 2018, with a producer named D’Mile. This kind of music is my favorite kind of music, and I never thought I could make something like this—I just didn't know if it fit. But he started playing that guitar, and it was giving me [The Beatles’] 'Blackbird' vibes, which is my favorite song of all time. I've always wanted to do a cool guitar thing like that, so I just started writing to it. I was so happy after that song, because it was the first time I'd written something that sounded like all the music that I always listen to, 24-7. D’Mile and I were joking, 'We need to keep making Black Beatles music!'”
“I would say this is my favorite song I've written of all time. I was in Brooklyn with a group called Holy Hive, and I walked into their studio, and it was the most intense studio I've ever seen. It felt like stepping into a studio from the '60s. It was all real instruments and real boards, and there were no computers. I was like, 'This is frickin' amazing!' I was just so excited. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm obsessed with outer space—if you listen to my first album, there's a lot of mentions of space and the moon. I had just moved to New York, and I was thinking about the idea of escape, and that turned into: ‘If I built a spaceship, would you go to Mars with me?’ So I just built it off of that. I probably wrote it in 20 minutes, and the vocal that's on it is literally the very first time I'd ever sung it.”
“This song started as the slowest ballad that I had written for the album—it was just super sad and gut-wrenching. But Patrick and Khaya [Cohen], who I collaborated on this one with, heard it and they were like, 'We could make this into something fun!' I love pairing sad lyrics with happy melodies, and vice versa, so this one just really played into that. It's a weird-sounding song, but it works.”
“I was listening a lot to Frank Ocean's Channel ORANGE, and a lot of those songs inspired the sound and vibe for 'Dirty Nikes.' Most of my music is pretty reflective and honest to my life, but I wrote this one with Patrick, which is cool—it's interesting to meld your life with someone else's and have both of your stories make your way into the song. I was wearing the dirtiest pair of Nikes, and I thought, ‘This would be really cool to incorporate into the song,’ and it ended up serving as this nice little metaphor of trying so hard to let go of something and not being able to.”
“Moments in Between”
“This was the very last song I'd written in the thick of the pandemic. I had just come back from living this super intense, busy, crazy life in New York and I was almost desperate to get back to that. But then what this pandemic taught me is, ultimately, at the end of the day, all you really have is the people you love and your friends and family. The big moments are fun and amazing, but those little things that you take for granted—like just giving someone a hug—mean the world to me and make up the best parts of life.”
“I would say this is the most personal, intimate song I wrote for this album. I wrote it at, like, 2 am in my room. It's just about really wanting to be there for the people you love. Ultimately, anytime I make music, that's what I'm making it for: When someone listens to my songs, I want them to just feel less alone. That's what music always was for me—I would go to my favorite albums to feel like I'm not the only one going through this, I'm not this crazy person. So I thought 'Share' was the best way to wrap it up, to leave people with the exact sentiment that I've always wanted to leave them with.”