My Music DNA: Newport Singer/Songwriter, Ruby Kelly

Ahead of her new single release, Hometown, Newport Singer/Songwriter Ruby Kelly discusses her music influences with Andy Howells.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into music?

I’m a female Welsh acoustic singer/songwriter from Newport, but I’m currently living in the North East of England for university. I’m studying with the Northern Academy of Music Education (NAME) in Sunderland and just completed my first year. I am enjoying it so much, it’s such a fulfilling course! I’ve also recently just been accepted as part of the Next Steps Progression Fund with WeMakeCulture in the North East which I’m really pleased to be involved with and can’t wait to see where it takes me! 

My family are very music orientated and from a young age I was brought up around huge musician influences which I guess resulted in me picking up a guitar!

I did my first open mic night at 13 and ,although very nervous, I just loved the feeling of playing my music to people and continued to build myself up as a musician from there! Since then I’ve had so many amazing opportunities such as supporting the Futureheads and Ferocious Dog in 2022 which were gigs that I’ll never forget. 

Ruby Kelly live at the Maindee Festival music tent. Photo: Andy Howells / Ents South Wales

What is your latest recording and can you tell us a bit about it?

My new single ‘Hometown’ is out on August 11! The song represents the past few years of my life and speaks of leaving your hometown to discover the world.

When leaving home at 18, I had no idea what was going to happen or how I would feel about it, honestly it was so scary, but inevitably the best thing I ever did for myself.

I love being Welsh and I love everything about Wales, it always holds a special place in my heart and this song really shows that. When recording the song, I’ll be honest , I wasn’t sure about it. It was definitely challenging for me to write as it was quite personal, but with the help from all the lovely people around me the song turned into something even better than I could’ve ever imagined.

I worked alongside Dan Donnelly from the Levellers who is such a great guy to work with and has helped me so much to progress as a musician especially when recording Hometown. A good friend, Jon Greening produced the track and really brought it to life. I love working with Jon, he is so amazing at what he does and never fails to make me laugh! 

Ruby Kelly releases her new single, Hometown on August 11.

What was the first song that made an impact on you?

I think for me it has to be Rocky Raccoon off The Beatles’ White Album.

As a kid my dad used to have this song on all the time and I remember just sitting for hours with headphones plugged into an iPod playing the song on repeat. It’s a strange one really but I just love everything about the song, the storyline is great. It has an old fashioned western cowboy theme and I am just so into it. Definitely one of my all time favourites!  

What was the first single /download you bought?

I’m not entirely sure, when I was growing up I was really into the ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ albums so probably one of those! Definitely not what you’d expect but as a young girl I guess that is what I wanted to listen to, I used to play them on my Hello Kitty CD player which in my opinion is very cool! 

What was the first album you owned?

I used to steal my Mum and Dads CD’s all the time. I remember the first album I claimed as my own was either Mcfly’s Room on the Third Floor or The Red Hot Chilli Peppers Californication. Whilst everyone else in school loved One Direction and JLS I was obsessed with Mcfly, I had posters all over my room and knew every word to every song. I even got VIP McBusted tickets – if that’s not cool I dunno what is!

I also really love The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Scar Tissue is one of my favourite tunes off that album it just has such a class feel to it. 

What’s your constant go to track?

At the moment, I’m listening to The Swimming Song by Loudon Wainwright III on repeat. Ask anyone, this song is always on wherever I am, I love it! It reminds me that not everything is as bad as it seems, to just keep afloat and you will be okay. It really is a beautiful song, the whole album is great in fact. 

What’s your constant go to album?

I could never choose just one but I really love the album Between The Buttons by The Rolling Stones. I love the song Ruby Tuesday as when I was a little girl I can remember people calling me by it, so it has just always stuck with me. I also love Miss Amanda Jones and Connection, the whole album is so strong and quite contagious really. Maybe not the best Stones album but definitely one that I go back to often and never get tired of listening to.

Who’s your latest music discovery?

I’ve been listening to His Sofa by Nieve Ella and really enjoying it. I think Nieve is fairly new to the music scene as I haven’t heard much about her, but she seems to be doing so well and has a great voice. It’s really lovely to see more women playing music and getting out there. It’s great discovering new artists, especially females! 

What’s your own track that best defines you as an artist?

I’ve recently written a song called “St Elmo” which is a western cowboy themed song. Of course, I’m by no means a cowboy, but I think that it defines me as an artist as it’s so chaotic and that is literally me and my life at the minute. It’s literally one extreme to the next and that song definitely resonates into my life at the moment! 

Ruby Kelly releases her new single, Hometown on August 11.

Ruby Kelly’s Hometown is available to pre-save now on Spotify and is available from August 11.

See Ruby Kelly live: 

  • Beautiful Days – Devon – August 18th – 20th
  • Field Frolics – Somerset – Sept 9th
  • Something Else Festival – Stafford – Sept 29th
  • Follow Ruby Kelly on Facebook and Instagram.

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