The biz's brightest new talents tell their stories. This week it's the turn of Ruby Wasmuth, composer manager at Manners McDade.
What word sums up your career so far?
“Empowerment! I was incredibly lucky to get a job at Manners ...
Sophie Ellis-Bextor heads out on tour this month in support of her career retrospective, The Song Diaries. Here, she looks back on her chart battle with Victoria Beckham, reveals which Blur member gave her key advice and addresses that Kylie Minogue rumour...
The industry has issues with gender equality...
“I can definitely see some inequality on that side of things. But on the performer side, it’s probably one of the few industries where you are on a more level playing field, whether you’re male or female. Also, as a working mum it’s very unusual, because I can bring my kids to work. When my son [Mickey] was nine weeks old, I took him to do radio and TV promo. So there’s a lot of things about being a performer that are really brilliant, and I take full advantage of them.”
The music press gave my band Theaudience a hard time...
“I just felt that there was quite a lot of rudeness about my appearance, about my upbringing, about everything – and I was only 18. It just felt really bitchy. There was a misconception that I was posh and privileged and everything had just come easy to me. Sometimes the indie press can be really snarky and put things down. If they wanted to write a bad review, they weren’t just bad, they were scathing. It just wasn’t a nice feeling, because I was young and green and excited. But all those things have actually really helped me, so everything is good in the bigger picture. But at the time it wasn’t very nice.”
Swapping between genres used to be frowned upon...
“I’d had my fingers burned in the press with Theaudience and I felt a bit wounded by it. Doing Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) in 2000 felt like a breath of fresh air and I had no idea it was going to be a hit. For me, I just thought, ‘I like the song, it makes me happy and it’s something that probably won’t even be written about in the music press’. It just sort of encouraged me to do what felt right. Most people’s record collections are really diverse, so this weird idea that you have to stick with something and that your fans won’t be able to follow you is actually bollocks, isn’t it?”
The Victoria Beckham chart battle was intimidating...
“I hadn’t really experienced anything like that before. I was aware at the time that it was very unusual and I should just try and remember as much as possible about it, because it was quite bonkers. I did see her a couple of times after that and I made a point of going over and saying, ‘It’s all a bit silly’. She was completely fine with me and it was a very sweet exchange. If anyone knows the ways of the press, it’s probably Victoria Beckham – she’s a lot more experienced at that than me.”
Alex James from Blur gave me some good advice...
“He said to me, ‘No one’s career is a straight upward trajectory, there are always highs and lows.’ That was very sage advice and very true. You’re encouraged to think that if everything’s not always going wonderfully well, then it’s the end of the world. But, actually, once you know about the peaks and the troughs, you kind of ride them better. I’m literally loving what I do more than ever.”
It’s not true that I rejected Can’t Get You Out Of My Head...
“However many times I tell people that didn’t happen, it doesn’t seem to matter. I never heard the song until I heard Kylie singing it on radio. I think the idea of me turning it down is obviously a much better story, but I honestly didn’t. The fact that Kylie sung it was part of what made it magical. Who’s to say it would have been a hit with me?”
Ironically, Sober, Pink’s 2008 anthem to sobriety, began life at an impromptu drinking session. Co-writer Kara DioGuardi charts the songwriting journey from awkward first encounter to scoring a massive global hit...
There’s a fun story behind Sober. I had met Pink about 18 months before we wrote it. Clive Davis had been telling her that I would write hits with her. And Pink has always been somebody who could write her own hits, so Clive wasn’t doing me any favours by saying that! You don’t tell that to Pink.
So, when she came to the studio, I was really nervous and, being Italian, I think I spoke too much and I didn’t really listen enough. We ended up writing but it was more me trying to push my ideas on her as opposed to listening to what she had to say. So I kind of screwed it up!
Then about a year and a half later I was surprised when her manager called and said Alecia [Moore, Pink’s real name] wants to work with you. I was like, “Do you have the right number, I’m not sure that went so well, but I’d love to write with her again”.
I decided to spend the day listening to Pink records, just getting into her headspace. Not only did I have a great day, because I love her music, but it really gave me perspective into the way she wrote and her lyrical voice. So when she got to the studio we had this kind of come-to-Jesus moment where she was like, “I wasn’t in the greatest headspace when I saw you last time” and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I should have listened more”.
We cleared the air and she said, “Do you want to have some wine?” She opened up this bottle of red wine, the cigarettes starting coming out, I’m on my third glass and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m not a big drinker and I’m starting to think that I could really throw up right now”. I almost threw up on Pink!
In the interim, somehow we had this amazing drunk game of [word] tennis where she would say a line and I’d say a line back and it was this seamless, organic, amazing co-write where it felt like the song wrote itself and we had so much fun doing it.
I really believe it was because we cleared the air and we just came to the song as two people who had experienced different forms of addiction, different forms of needing something to deaden our pain. We were able to put it into the song and it’s one of my favourite writing experiences I’ve ever had.
It was ironic writing a song about sobriety while drunk, I know! I should probably drink more! But I have to be careful with the drinking because I don’t drink that much, so when I do, I start to get a little sloppy.
When you’re writing a song it’s great if it can come from your personal experience. My thing was never about drinking, it was more about having issues with food. When I was struggling with depression or trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, food was my comfort. That’s how I approached the song, so it was from that point of view. Even though it’s talking about sobriety, it can be anything that makes you feel better than your reality.
You always hope that it touches people on the other side and that someone who’s suffering from any addiction, or any issue, will be able to relate to it. I’m really happy that other people do find the song comforting. I really am aware of the power of music and how important telling your truth is to battling addiction.
It was a great feeling to see it take off around the world. There had actually just been a hit called Call Me When You’re Sober [by Evanescence] so I didn’t think it could be a hit, but I thought, “You know, I don’t care, I’m going to help Pink write her truth”. The best thing you can do is, show up and really try to help the artists you’re working with convey what they want to convey. And if you can do that, you’ve done your job. We were just two women shooting the shit and telling our story.
Publishers EMI Blackwood Music, WBM Music Corp/Danjahandz Music, Sunshine Terrace, Yaslina Music Publishing Writers Pink, Kara DioGuardi, Nathaniel Hills, Marcella Araica Release Date 03.11.08 Record Label LaFace/RCA Total UK Sales (OCC) 339,175