Songbird RubyGold is probably the number one reason for you losing your moral boundaries on the dance floor and partying until sunrise. Born Carla Mariza Classen, the songstress was raised in Johannesburg by a Portuguese mother and a South African Father. Of this, she enlightens us how her familial roots informed the genesis of her musical journey by indicating that, “My mom passed away when I was six. She had been my pillar. When she passed away, she took a part of me with her. To remember her she had left me a ring that was gold and had rubies on it. So I named myself in remembrance of my mom and the ring,”
Growing up, RubyGold was exposed to an assortment of musical influences such as Passada, R&B, Rave, Hip Hop, Kuduro, House and ultimately the love of her life, Jazz. Her versatility stems from studying stalwarts such as Billy Holiday, Yukimi Nagano, Grace Jones, Portishead and the spiritual incantations of traditional shamans. RubyGold has crafted a sound unique to her multi-faceted repertoire known as trance-jazz. The sound derives from the gradual down beat of spiritual trance and is within pivotal breaks nuanced with the sensuality of Jazz.
The lyrical content in her music delves into issues of femininity, the plight of human beings in a technological concrete jungle and expeditions of spirituality. She writes her own material and has received copious accolades for her proficiency in moving crowds of divergent tastes. As a songwriter, RubyGold, contributed to Mafikizolo‘s 2013 album Reunited.
RubyGold has over-time delved in the underground music space with her band Meat the Veggies, rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Muffinz. With Meat the Veggies she explored numerous musical directions and executed numerous gigs in Johannesburg, helping her define her own style through live performance. Her experience playing live also enabled her to build a solid network of industry connections. In addition, her sharp ear for various sounds enabled her to be a cut above her peers by adopting a mature approach towards her in-studio and on- stage deliveries.
She states, “Before then I was doing underground music. I was part of a band called Meat the Veggies. I was the lead singer of that band. I was getting to know my voice. I can sing in a commercial way, in a jazz way and I can sing in all kinds of genres. That was the time that I was developing the sound that I have now, which is called Trance Jazz.”
In 2010, RubyGold experimented with a slight commercial sound when Monotone asked her to add her piercing vocals to a song he was already working on. The pair recorded Invitation to Dance in Monotone’s Braamfontien studio not expecting much buzz around that musical work. To their surprise, the song went on to become the December soundtrack for many that year. “My first big break was in 2010, with Invitation to Dance, which was the song many are familiar with. That song was basically my first break as a known name,” RubyGold points out.
When asked what the song meant, she said, “ I’m simply saying ‘You want to play with me, but I only just wanna dance with you. We are just dancing, nothing more. You know how girls are so inviting on the dance floor, then a guy will decide to change his mind and want to grab your booty. So I created my own rhyme to address that issue. I’m not saying I wanna have your babies. I’m just trying to be nice. I wanna dance with you that is it. The phrase ‘Wan Kude?’ means ‘You hear me?’”
And then in 2011, came the Revolution club banger Teka Munike. Renowned for her silky Afro, raspy pipes and sultry Portuguese lyricism, RubyGold jokingly mentions that for a song with such a strong female empowerment message about inner strength, people seem to mainly act ratchet every time Teka Munike comes up. Who can blame them with such a whining up-tempo beat backing-up RubyGold’s sassy proclamation? “Teka Munike means ‘give and take’. And I’m speaking about the dance. It’s a female empowering anthem. But because it’s in Portuguese, for some reason people seem to want to ‘lahlumlenze’ every time the song drops,” RubyGold quips. Nevertheless coming from a Portuguese background, “where you learn to shake your hips before you can speak”, she loves to dance as well.
What makes RubyGold such a precious gem is that she has coined a whole genre to best suit her unique sound. She has dubbed it Trance Jazz – blending the entire genre she has probed throughout her underground term. Fans will have a full taste of her Trance Jazz sound when she at last releases her debut album, Box Unlimited. The first single from the forthcoming album is In The City, a colourful pop thrust celebrating the beauty of the City of Johannesburg.
“My sound is a fusion of a lot of genres coming together as one. Jazz, House, Hip Hip, Disco and all of them fused into one. It’s called Trance Jazz. It’s a sound that I created because coming from an underground point of music I felt like that was more who I am. I was able to sing in a way that played with my voice. It sounded peculiar. That always makes you go ‘is that a bird? Is that a voice?’,” RubyGold explains. “I felt like that element had to be taken into the commercial side of things, I felt like there was a beauty that was being missed by the commercial side. So I took all those sounds that everyone knows and I made them into one. I called it Trance Jazz because it makes you drift into a dreamy feeling.”
Fire Flies is a union between two pioneering sounds, Trance Jazz and Equatorial House. With influences as diverse as Fela Kuti, Marie Daulne and Zap Mama and even The Cinematic Orchestra, RubyGold brings to JERU The Album a diversity of sound and feel. As she has stated before, “I make music that makes you wanna connect with your higher being.” This is exactly what she endeavours to accomplish with her silky and raspy application on this musical work that is Fire Flies.
released December 1, 2016
Produced by Saint Evo
Vocals & Lyrics by RubyGold
Audio recorded by Mambo Faceless at Strange Medley Music
Mastered by Njenga Giggz of Xtrim Records
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