From the outside looking in, it seems as though after these last few years, that hard work, momentum and opportunity have met up for Bex Chilcott and her musical entity, Ruby Boots.
Chilcott has worked tirelessly over the years, both on her own music and helping others work towards performing theirs. With a new EP release and an album around the corner, it seems plausible that in 2014, the planets may have aligned for her at last.
It’s not generally easy for me to take any praise or compliments for my work,” Chilcott reflects. “I’m always very much looking to the next thing I can do to keep pushing on and often forget to look back.
“But you are right, I am really feeling a lot of love and support at the moment and have been very sentimental lately as a result, it makes a nice change.”
The context of where she is now and where she came from to get there dawned on Chilcott last weekend when she was in Kununurra to perform at The Kimberley Moon Festival.
“It’s been exactly 10 years since I first picked up a guitar in Broome when I was working on the boats, playing along to The Waifs’ record, Sink Or Swim. It’s probably the only time I’ll ever believe in the notion of love at first sight – or listen! – but it just felt like at that moment that life started to make sense for me. I had never really understood why I was here before that, I remember it so clearly, learning the song, When I Die, and playing it over and over until I had learnt my first song from top to bottom.
“Standing in the crowd last Saturday night, just up the road from Broome where it all began for me, watching The Waifs play one of the songs Vikki and I wrote together out in Utah, and then closing the set with When I Die, it really struck me how much unwavering passion and love for something can take you in a full circle… of course with the help of people who stick out their hands and often their necks out for you along the way. I’m really excited about releasing the record this year!”
The new era of Ruby Boots is hinted at on the just-released self-titled EP, which features the songs Solitude, Oh Lover, Cola & Wine and Kellie Anne.
“I have had a much stronger vision for the sound I wanted for my latest work and the EP is a taste of that,” Chilcott notes. “Solitude and Cola & Wine I recorded with producer, Tony Buchen, in Sydney. Tony is such a joy to work with and a very unique bass player, also. I really wanted a more guitar and keys-driven sound and both of these songs give the listener that.
“Kellie Anne was recorded in Nashville last year. Working with players over there was an eye-opening experience, it was great because I had never intended to go over and write and record a song that sounded like the slick side of Nashville, I worked and wrote with producer, Robin Eaton, he’s so laid back and down to earth and the recording has that side of him in there, more feel than something too polished.
“The track that seems to be getting the most attention at the moment is Oh, Lover which was recorded in Melbourne with producer, Anna Laverty. I was so sick the day we recorded it, I remember having to go and lie down every so often so as not to pass out from the fever! Luckily enough, Anna came over to Perth a few weeks later so I could finish off the vocals. She picked some of her favourite songs out of a whole bunch that I sent her and she was really excited about working on that track. Anna has a real sense of togetherness when working with you, you really feel like she is fully invested in what you are doing. So I am glad people are digging it.”
Chilcott explains that the EP release is a pre-cursor to her 10-track album, which will be released late this year.
“I wanted to include Solitude as I think it sums up the essence of the thread that is running through the album which addresses the necessity of being alone, spending that time with yourself and feeling things to their fullest capacity, giving people a taste of that was important to me,” she explains.
The first line-up of the Ruby Boots came to an end about two years ago, replaced by not only a new Perth line-up but a completely fresh angle on touring.
“I am taking a very different approach these days and am really enjoying it,” Chilcott says. “It’s far less stressful and I can say yes to so many more opportunities that come my way and just jump on a plane when I have to at the drop of a hat.
“I’ve got a band in WA, Victoria and NSW and all of the guys and gals are a dream to work with, it’s been really enjoyable working with an array of such great musicians. That said, I have been using my secret weapon, Mr Lee Jones on as many shows I can around the country, he just can’t be beat! I took him over to Sydney to help out with the last tracking session, and we had pushed through three songs in one long day/night, that particular line-up just seemed to bring some kind of magic to the record, there was some serious chemistry happening in the studio. Lee had a big part to play in that, in fact he contributed to a lot of the record and is an absolute joy to work with, kind of feels like having a Derek Trucks or Dave Rawlings by your side, a kick-arse musician and someone that gets what you are trying to do musically without having to talk about it too much, you just have to play.
“The Perth gang are really sizzling together, such great players, the launch will have all six of us on stage, we’ll be cooking with gas. It’s a very easy and relaxed environment to be working in.”
Do some people think your name is actually Ruby?
“Yes,” Chilcott laughs, “all the time, and I am starting to get used to it. It’s kind of nice to have a different name for the musical me!”