ARTIST INTERVIEW | Nancy Ruth Discusses Intrinsic Creativity

Spanish-Canadian singer-songwriter Nancy Ruth performs all over the world: Morocco, Brunei, Polynesia, and Panama. Her latest single/music video is entitled “Todo Para Ti,” translated “all for you.”

Now residing in Malaga, Nancy Ruth grew up in British Columbia, and later studied at the Victoria Conservatory. Since then, she’s become an international artist, whose bold blend of jazz, Latin music, experimental rock, and flamenco has galvanized audiences wherever she performs.

The music video for “Todo Para Ti” opens on a dazzling flamenco guitar flowing into a captivating melody composed of jazz flavors and flamenco buleria. The icing on the delicious musical cake is Ruth’s luscious voice, enflamed with passion and vibrant textures.

With the resurgence of flamenco-infused Latin music, CelebMix sat down with Nancy Ruth to discover more about the source of her fervent music.

How would you describe yourself?

An artist – I’ll leave the musical descriptions to the listeners.

What five things can’t you live without?

Enthusiasm, my travel pillow and of course my piano, guitar and MacBook.

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?  

Arriving to do a show scratched, bruised and covered in mud after running through the woods nearly naked, trying to escape a bear while battling clouds of mosquitoes. I was performing a show in Canada’s North (Yukon Territory). The crew was furious at me for risking my life that way… in my mind I was just out for an adventurous afternoon rafting down a river on some tires. After that incident the boss put a ‘high risk activity’ clause in my contract.

What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?

“La Vie En Rose.” Not sure why. I don’t like listening to it, but it’s got a great shower melody and it makes me grin. Maybe it brings back memories of a hedonistic gig I had in French Polynesia.

Who is your favorite music artist?

Could be a toss-up between Chopin, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell and Paco de Lucia, but how can anyone have just one favorite musical artist? The last band that blew me away was a traditional North African orchestra that I heard at a Moroccan wedding in Tiznit. Sometimes it’s not the famous, obvious names that most move you.

How did you get started in music?  What’s the backstory there?

I used to sing old standards from the 1930s with my ukelele that my dad taught me, just hanging out on the dock where we had our boat tied up. I was about 9-years-old. When passersby started throwing money in my ukelele case I thought, this is fun…

What musicians influenced you the most?

The local flamenco artists in my pueblo that no one has ever heard of. Maybe that’s what makes them so powerful to me; they don’t sing or play for any reason other than a primal need for pure, spontaneous expression.
















How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?

I think it’s made me more brave and open to tune into my own, intrinsic creativity. It’s a great thing to get away from particular schools of playing, and genre constraints. The music I make isn’t jazz, or flamenco, or Latin or rock, although exploring and even working extensively in those styles was a great education. But there comes a point, as a creative person, when you have to break free of labels, and follow your musical instincts regardless of their marketability. I could have had a more comfortable life had I stuck to playing standards and doing commercial, genre specific gigs, but I’ve always had a strong calling to follow my own musical vision, regardless of the risk.

“Todo Para Ti” is the title of your new music video. What inspired the song?

It’s based on a flamenco style called a buleria. I put it into song form, with a lyric that came to me as I wrote the melody. For me the music usually comes first, then it’s like putting a little puzzle together. It’s a mix of craft and flow. “Todo Para Ti” means ‘all for you’ – it’s kind of a ‘screw you’ kind of break up song, and it’s really fun to sing.

Why do you think flamenco is experiencing a revival in popularity?

It’s an art form that transmits the purest, rawest of human emotions. I’m not a flamenco artist, but after 20 years in the South of Spain it’s in my blood and part of my musical vocabulary.

I love the dance moves in the video. Who choreographed it? 

Sandra Cisneros and Daniel Romero choreographed the dance themselves. Sandra had already done a little tour of Canada with me – she’s a great artist and a delight to work with, as is Daniel.

What’s next for you musically?

I just got back from performing my latest works with my band at a big festival in Africa, and now I’m taking some time to write again, as well as looking for someone to take over bookings. Looking forward to less time at the computer, and more time at the piano and guitar.

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.