Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Ruby Velle - lead vocals, co-producer, lyricist
Jason Collier - Trumpet
Spencer Garn - Multi-instrumentalist, co-producer, engineer/mixer
Scott Clayton - Guitar, co-producer
Zack Albetta - Drums
Ben Davis - Sax
Jake Lawson - Bass
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics? How long has the band been around?
The first members of the band and myself all met in Gainesville, Florida. I had not been involved in any other bands; however I’d been vocal training and singing for some time prior. Spencer (keys) and Scott (guitar) both played in bands on the scene - in particular at a venue that Scott used to run called The Side Bar. But really the Soulphonics formed around then (2005-6) and we all found a home within the project.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
The band’s name (“The Soulphonics & Ruby Velle”) was a collective decision that has since stuck, whereas my stage name of Velle originated from my own musings over the classic American car, “Chevelle”. Overall, the name of the band originally sounded backwards to many fans, so we switched it about 6 years in to “Ruby Velle & The…”
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
While our songs are a true co-creation and collaboration, I am usually the sole lyricist on most every track. I try to write a great variety and base it off a feeling - perhaps of an individual, not myself or of the collective. But with this effort, we’ve opened up this sophomore album to include some co-writers on about 3 tracks, and one of which is actually my husband Alex (on Broken Woman,) so that was a refreshing twist for me! We also asked Binky Griptite to write alongside us, as we love the legacy he’s co-created with the DapKings and with our late High Priestess of Soul, Sharon Jones. Sharon has also been a writer of love songs and songs of change, so Binky immediately saw the same in the issues I was writing about.
Songs like “State of All Things,” and “It’s About Time” help to elevate the conversation past “wowie, things are baaaad” to “let’s pull together, dig in and make change.” I think this has been an ongoing motivation for us, even with our Starbucks pick of the week track “My Dear,” and certainly a marker for the intention behind our beautiful genre of southern soul.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
We love bands of most every genre but I would say predominantly influenced by the classic era of music (60’s to 70s) across classic rock, experimental rock, blues, folk, roots and reggae. A band named Cold Blood is top of mind, as well as Led Zeppelin, Baby Huey, Minnie Riperton, Richard Grooves Holmes. Some newer artists I’ve been digging on include Vintage Trouble, Hiatus Kaiyote, and then some local Atlien women-led bands that are just amazing like St. Beauty, Chelsea Shag and The Coathangers. Also, I have been extremely inspired by D’Angelo and Fiona Apple. I am putting them in the same list based on the off the charts inspiration factors- for their delivery, content, lyricism and artistry. Just genius level songwriting and musicianship.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
Thanks to my American neighbors’ family, I got to see Janet Jackson when I was probably too young to be witnessing the “Velvet Rope Tour,” but yes, it certainly made me understand how a strong woman could stand in her own skin and shine brightly. Since then I’ve moved into my own as a front woman, but not without her still leading by example. She’s a gem of an American musician and artist and I just want to say I LOVE YOU, JANET! You played that tour with so much heart, I walked away totally immersed in ways to improve my voice and range.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, etc …
Well, over the years I’ve had different approaches, but lately I seem to understand that the inner helps inform the outer. So I try to keep with a regular sleep and meditation schedule and I’m a spiritual enthusiast so that helps my mind wander, write songs and be creative. As far as just before a show, I like to drink ginger tea and I do about 15-20 min of various vocal warm ups to be able to sing with the very loud but extremely awesome 7 piece band that is the Soulphonics! Also, I noticed that cool down of the voice is just as important, so after I talk with fans post show, I try to do the exercises in reverse until there’s just a hum. I guess this is a tip for all my fellow vocalists out there!
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
Amazing timing with this question! The band, myself, our management and our families all recently met in Washington DC as we co- headlined a festival focused on the unity, called “AMERICA NOW.” The event was presented by all three DC Smithsonian Institute Museums, with our set along with Oddisee, in the courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery. The experience was beyond surreal and poignant, the band and I are still in awe that all our songs from “State of All Things,” found their rightful ears that eve, people were listening for that unity and we felt the love. (ps. THANK YOU, DC!!)
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
EASY one.. The Jimi Hendrix Experience for past band. Even just to have witnessed one show.. This is something that our fans recollect to me and I can only dream.
For present moment bands I’ll say Lee Fields and the Expressions… what a show!! Lee has been a God-Father of sorts to our band and I just love his energy and singing along side a master soulsmith. Together! Would be great to hit Europe as he is often over there and they LOVE him as we do here in America.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
So much to say, where to begin? First, we’re excited to be supporting this new album with a tour for the rest of the summer - and into the fall (we’re releasing dates weekly almost now!)
Also, we’ll be releasing our video for “Broken Woman” in July and we are excited as we partnered with Hales Photography who used a new photo technology called Flixel to help bring our vision to life. Can’t wait to share that one on 7/13!
Finally, we’ll have two new vinyl releases in late summer/early fall for fans, too. All our vinyl was pressed on colored wax and we’re really proud of the how its all come together! I’m proud to say that in keeping with our indie approach, I designed the “Call Out My Name” 7” which is on cream colored vinyl (releasing 8/31/18). This track is very special to us as an anthem, so we hope you dig too!
We’re so thankful that after 6 years of working on this album, the fans have stayed with us. It means so much, we couldn’t do this without YOU, and we will be in your town or country soon!