Former Chromatics singer Ruth Radelet just released her debut solo EP, The Other Side, which she made over the last two years with friend and producer Filip Nikolic (ex-Poolside). While the EP has sonic connections to what her old group, Ruth is also following for own path here with these five celestial, at times haunting and deeply personal tracks. Stream The Other Side below.
We asked Ruth to tell us more about the inspirations behind the EP and she gave us a list that includes music (Bob Dylan, Frank Ocean, more), film, life experiences, books and more. Read her list and commentary below.
RUTH RADELET – 10 INFLUENCES BEHIND ‘THE OTHER SIDE’
Bob Dylan is one of the first songwriters I really connected with, and I think there is a little bit of him in everything I do. He has an incomparable way with words, and his melodies are simple but so effective. It’s tough to pick a favorite album but Blood on the Tracks has probably stuck with me more than any other. It sounds older and wiser than some of Dylan’s earlier work, and it has a weariness and heartache in it that really hits home.
Blonde / Frank Ocean
This might be the album I have listened to the most over the last several years. Frank Ocean’s songwriting is understated but captivatingly emotional, and I’m in love with the musical and vocal tones. The production is perfectly spare and lush at the same time, and I drew a lot of inspiration from it for the record, especially on “Be Careful.”
Get Back / Peter Jackson
Get Back is a reminder of just how great the Beatles really were. It’s fascinating to watch their studio process, and how over time they turned chaotic musings into some of the best songs ever written. Shortly before I watched the series I had been doing a deep dive into Paul McCartney’s solo catalog, and Get Back only emphasized what a gifted songwriter he is. I grew up primarily a fan of John and George, and it took me a long time to fully appreciate Paul’s talent. When they brought Billy Preston into the studio everything blew wide open, and I can’t imagine any of those songs without his contributions.
As is true for many writers, love is one of the easiest subjects for me to write about. It’s a kind of shortcut to the state of pure feeling you need to be in to create. When you’re in love with someone you see everything through a new lens, and all the colors of life become more vivid. But you also feel a distance from the outside world, and sometimes I think you need that separation in order to tell a story.
I had never experienced real grief before losing my father last year. It has been difficult to write about directly, and only one song on the record was written after his death. Grief is a long process that I am still very much in the middle of, and making a record while working through those feelings added a different weight to the music. I suffered many smaller losses as well over the last couple years, and all of those experiences left me forever changed. My work has been a life raft for me, and I put everything I had into The Other Side.
I always find healing and inspiration in nature. It helps me to center myself and create space for new ideas to come through. It has been a big part of my life since childhood, and there are often references to it in my lyrics. We even added some field recordings I made of birds and crickets to the record. Photographing natural places is one of my biggest hobbies outside of music, and I think each expression can’t help but influence the other.
My producer Filip Nikolic and I were both listening to a lot of Nick Cave during the making of The Other Side, and we took moments from Carnage and Skeleton Tree as production references. Nick Cave is a man who has experienced a lot of loss in his life, and I think I have been drawn to him recently for that reason. He has been battered by unimaginable grief, and is not only still standing but continuing to make incredible music. There’s a depth in it you can’t fake, and that you can only earn through hardship.
Moses Sumney live at the Bootleg Theater, 2/12/20
Hands down one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. I’ve seen Moses Sumney perform many times and have always been impressed, but this particular show absolutely blew me away. I left the Bootleg that night feeling humbled and a bit stunned, and it made me want to get to work immediately. I was writing a lot of new songs around that time, and a few of them made it onto the EP.
Once Twice Melody / Beach House
This album was the soundtrack to a very difficult winter for me, just before I started working with Filip on what would become The Other Side. I kept listening throughout the recording process and it couldn’t help but inform the atmosphere and production of the record. Once Twice Melody came out while I was living in Portland, and it still makes me think of driving home at night down dark and rainy streets. It feels very different but equally dreamy in the California sunshine.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter / Sue Monk Kidd
This book is invaluable for any woman on a journey toward greater authenticity and self empowerment. I found it incredibly inspiring as I was navigating my own spiritual awakening of sorts. A quote from the book: “There is no place so awake and alive as the edge of becoming. But more than that, birthing the kind of woman who can authentically say, ‘My soul is my own,’ and then embody it in her life, her spirituality, and her community is worth the risk and hardship.”