Today, we are speaking with New York City’s Maddy Ruff. How did you get into music?
I don’t think I really “got into music”. Music has always been a part of my life. My mother was performing 8 shows a week on Broadway in Les Mis up until month 6 of her pregnancy with me! There was no choice to be made, it was something that was already a part of me.
Can you give us a little background information about yourself and your band, Maddy & The Ruff Riders?
There is a lot of background, but I’ll try to keep it short. I am a singer songwriter, but I am also a two-time cancer survivor and an amputee. I think that my experiences lit a fire under my butt to really pursue what I am passionate about. I don’t think that my experience with cancer is what I write about, but all of life’s experiences inform who we are and who we grow into. As someone who dances around on stage and has one leg, I look forward to becoming a larger representative of the disabled community. You can be disabled and still be powerful and beautiful!
As for the band, I work with some amazing musicians who also happen to be amazing people. When I decided to work on my material with a full band back in 2012, I wanted to work with people I had never worked with before. Everyone in the group was a friend of a friend or a recommendation of a friend. Originally, the soul purpose of us all getting together was to work on my music. I feel it gave us a totally blank slate to start from, and a completely fresh perspective. I lucked out! We love working together and we have succeeded in growing a sound together, not to mention, a really great working and personal relationship.
You have just released your latest album Over It last year. What was the writing/creative and recording process for the album like? How did the album compare to your 2013 work Don’t Fall?
The recording process for Over It was a marathon! We had been rehearsing the material for a long time, so we were able really utilize our time in the studio. It was a little insane though. We recorded all 8 full band tracks with trash vocals from about 10:00am to 3:00am including most of the overdubs and solos. I then came in the next morning to record all 8 vocal tracks in about 8 hours. It was such a pleasure to work with the band and Benny Goldstein on the record. There is a level of excitement that comes from creating new material, and anticipating sharing it with the world for the first time. As humans, we learn and grow from every experience and venture. My first release, Don’t Fall, was a true learning experience, and I accomplished what I set out to do with it. As an artist, and as a band, we have grown and improved since it’s release, and since the release of Over it. Over it is definitely a Maddy Ruff record, but the sound has matured and evolved a bit. I can’t wait to do more!
How has New York City generally (or Brooklyn specifically) helped and hindered your career?
I think it helps in the fact that there is so much amazing and inspiring art happening out here. Many insanely talented friends of mine are in the same or similar career paths, and we do our best to support each other’s work. Not to mention, having played well known spots in New York like: Birdland Jazz, Rockwood Music Hall, or Bowery Electric makes it a bit easier to book larger venues in other cities.
On the flip side, I won’t lie. Trying to “make it” in New York is HARD! Because there is so much music, art, and culture to choose from here, people often don’t appreciate it as much as they do elsewhere. I’ve had several friends try to convince me to move. They goad me by saying things like “you won’t have to harass your friends to come out to a show with a $5 cover.” There is a plethora of free accessible music here, and the city is really expensive. Those are the issues that most of us deal with on a regular basis.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music? Is there a dream lineup of performers that you would like to perform with if given the chance?
Female Jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and June Christy have definitely influenced the bass of my sound, but I grab from Blues, R&B, and Rock artists as well. I love me some Etta James and Stevie Wonder, but I also love me some ACDC, so, the influences come from all over the map.
My dream job right now would be opening for Grace Potter out on the road. I’m going to keep putting that out into the universe until it happens!! 😉
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started performing?
Academically I come from Opera and then jazz training. I started as a Classical vocal major at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and then transferred into the Jazz vocal program my second year there. I think that when I first started performing my own material, I was still mimicking a sound that I thought I was supposed to sound like. The academic jazz world, at least how I interpreted it, centers around being able to solo and improvise, but also to kind of fit a mold of a classic sound. I think it took me some time to take from that classic sound, make it my own, and then add to it with my love of hard rock and old school R&B.
Which sort of social media website have you had the best successes with? What about these online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting and performances that musicians utilize?
From my experiences with it, instagram tends to be a bit more interactive than facebook. I think having a strong online presence is very important. At the level I’m at right now, It definitely helps with record/itunes/spotify numbers, but I don’t necessarily think it gets more butts in the seats. Personal messages and face to face at shows is the way to get an audience. Word of mouth will motivate someone to get out of the house more than a picture of rehearsal J
You perform live fairly often; what are your plans for 2016 and beyond? How can interested NeuFutur readers locate samples of your music?
I’m all over the internet, just google Maddy Ruff! In all seriousness though, I’ll have some new video content up of current performances very soon. In the mean time, you can sign up for my mailing list or like my fanpage for updates: http://eepurl.com/NEHkf or https://www.facebook.com/MaddyRuffsongs/ . If any Neufutur readers are in the New York area, we’ll be playing Bowery Electric on August 13th at 8:00: https://www.facebook.com/events/728801467258414/ , and Hellphone in Brooklyn August 25th at 10:00.
I’ll be heading to Nashville to record a few new tracks with Benny Goldstein in September, and will be documenting a fair amount of the trip and the work I’ll be doing down there. Hoping to plan a few shows out of town towards the end of 2016 as well, so, stay tuned!
Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life and the universe for our readers?
Thank you so much to Neufutur for the opportunity to answer these questions!
Thank you so much to my amazing band: Christian Nourijanian, Tim Basom, Andy Attanasio, and Goh Izawa!