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Exploding from the Center
by Matt Crawford on Jul 16, 2009
Simone Rubi is a citizen of the world, bouncing around Europe and North America over the last four years, gathering inspiration and borrowing musicians for Rubies, her folky synth-pop band with Terri Lowenthal and Nicolas Dobbratz. Rubi spoke with SF Station from Oakland, where she is living for six weeks this summer before spreading her wings and flying away again. The album, Explode from the Center, was officially released in June on iTunes and Rubies celebrated its debut in July.
SF Station (SFS): Are you enjoying your stay in California?
Simone Rubi (SR): Yeah, definitely. California summers are awesome. I used to live here for years, but I moved away four years ago.
SFS: Where do you spend most of your time when you are not here?
SR: I bounce around a lot. Every couple of months, I kind of change it up. Iíve been spending a lot of time in Berlin, Scandinavia and Canada.
I spent last winter in Canada, and being from California, it was really, really intense. It made me think about seasons and being a hermit, which inspired me to work on stuff. Now that Iím in California, it feels like a crazy summer since I just experienced a Canadian winter.
SFS: What inspired you to start traveling?
SR: Terri and I were in a band called Call & Response that we played with for a bunch of years. We both kind of took a break from that band, and I had a lot of changes come up. I wanted to try something new for a while. I wanted to make a record as Rubies, so I started traveling around to visit a lot of musicians we met through Call & Response.
I ended up recording all over Scandinavia. It kept pushing me all over the place and I spent a couple of months in each spot. Iíve been living the lifestyle ever since. Iím trying to find a place to stay still for a while, but Iím not sure where that is going to be.
SFS: After it was released overseas about a year ago, your album was finally officially released in the U.S. in June. Was that a major event for you or just another step in the process?
SR: We wanted to get it out at the same time, but we did what a lot of bands are doing now and funded it by ourselves and then licensed it to different labels. It was out in Japan first and then other countries in Europe. It was a rolling release that really worked for us because we stayed excited about the songs and it gave us time to tour in those places while it was still a fresh release. Itís a lot of work to try to conquer the U.S and Europe at the same time without people losing interest because the album has been out for too long.
We ended up touring Europe way longer than we thought, so it took a year to release it here. Iím ready to start working on the next album, but we are going to do a bit of touring on the East Coast and Canada in September and weíll tour the West Coast in November.
SFS: Are you going to continue to use different musicians at each stop?
SR: Nicolas Dobbratz, from Sugar & Gold, has been our guitar player for about a year, so we definitely have a solid trio of Terri and I and Nicolas. We use different drummers, depending on where we are. The three of us will probably record the basic tracks for the next album, and then we will ask a few guests to do a few overdubs. We are still trying to figure out who that will be and where we will record it.
I have a feeling we will probably record down in Mexico. We want to go down there and fly in some friends from around the world.
SFS: That sounds fun.
SR: Yeah. For us, itís really important where we record because we really take a lot of influence from the place and the people there. We will probably do some work down there and some work in Canada with other friends. Itís fun to keep lots of people involved; it kind of creates a party vibe.
SFS: Before you leave again, what would you like to do with the rest of your California summer?
SR: I want to go camping in Big Sur and be alone for a few weeks so I can try to get to that alone-inspiration place. Maybe it will kick start some new songwriting. I also want to swim in the ocean with dolphins and make out with a California boy on Saturday.
Rubies debut album Explode from the Center is available now.
by Matt Crawford on Jul 16, 2009