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Labor of Love: Ruby Boots
Rebecca Louise "Bex" Chilcott, AKA Ruby Boots honed her songwriting craft while out at sea working hard on Pearling boats.
The Australian singer-songwriter has criss crossed the globe busking her tunes. Bex recently released her label debut on Chicago's own Bloodshot Records .
We asked her how she got her start and what keeps her going in this episode of Labor of Love.
Country twang with outlaw bravado, tapping into the loose energy of a young Lucinda Williams. — Rolling Stone
Music that will remind you of Nikki Lane one moment, of fellow Aussie Courtney Barnett the next.— Boston Globe
Bex, AKA Ruby Boots, strums a 1941 Gibson L-0, Brandy Zdan leading on our 1968 Fender Telecaster and Ryan Gavil on the Ampeg Devil Bass.
How did making music become your life?
I was working on a pearl farm way out at sea off the coast of Western Australia where I taught myself how to play guitar and eventually I started writing songs. Once I had started writing I was never able to turn my back on it, I was 22 at the time so I didn’t grow up playing music or anything like that, but I do know that it found me at the right time for me to be able to give myself to it and grow. I traveled all through Europe and the UK busking for rent and signing to no one and everyone on the street for a couple of years and eventually I found myself back at home in Perth Western Australia and started gigging every week. It's been quite a slow and steady pace for me but I just kept doing the next thing in order to grow and push myself as an artist. I guess there was no real ‘start’ as such but just one thing after the next that allowed me to continue to write and record songs in Australia and then America and now I’m somehow able to play them around the world to people!
How do you make it work? What are your hustles/gigs? How does it all come together?
You know, I really can't answer that one way or the other because the majority of the times there are so many variables that going into making things roll on from one thing to the next and I play so many different roles to make things work, I'm self managed, I TM my own tours, I work remotely writing arts grants for Australians whilst I am on tour in the US ... you name it, if It has to happen I'll just get it fucking done so that I can keep this thing rolling. I'm still not at the point where I make music and support myself from it so everyday I just do what I can to make the next thing happen, I feel like with every next thing there is so much at stake so I try and take the time to look at what's in front of me and then brainstorm what I have to do to make it happen. To put it in a few words I think the three things that sum up how I make it all work is keeping my work ethic in tact i.e. work as hard as you need to to get it done no matter what that entails, love what you do and keep some blind faith in tact so the fear doesn't take over and rule my decisions.
Who were your major influences? What guides your playing style?
Before I started playing music influenced me, so I always go back to my love of grunge and Australian Rock anywhere from Nirvana, QOTSA to Silverchair and Powderfinger then I really started getting into songwriters like Lucinda Williams, Janis Joplin and Tom Petty then I moved to listening to a lot of Alt Country like Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo my influences and tastes are always changing but my love of simple but hooky guitars and melodies is the thing that always guides me the most.
What's your rig? First guitar? Current? Pedals you can't live without?
I run my 1984 Fender Telecaster 52 Reissue through a Fender Princeton and have a small pedal board set up with me on stage. I cannot live without the MXR delay, and then for tone/rhythm guitar I currently have a BB Xotic pre amp to work with my 'clean' sound and then the Green Rhino MKII Overdrive for my dirty sound, and the Echo Plex Booster for lead. I have a Supa Trem and Holy Grail for when I need them.
My acoustic set up is a Gibson LG2 American Eagle with the LR Baggs Anthem pick up and I run that through the LR Baggs Venue DI
I actually still play my first electric guitar that I bought, I have owned a couple of other Fenders and a Gretsch at different points but I keep coming back to my original Telecaster. I still own my '85 Maton acoustic that I learnt to play on out at sea, I don't think I could ever sell that guitar!
What does the band have coming up? Albums? Tours?
I am two thirds of the way of a five-week tour opening for Low Cut Connie here in the US and we actually finish the tour this month in my (new) home town, Nashville. Next year I am playing Stagecoach and will be touring the West Coast around that, I can't wait to go out west (where the sun shines!!)
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