With Sandra Tsang, Supriya Anand, and Ashley Link
With over 42,000 monthly listeners and over 2 million streams on her Spotify, 21 year old Manila-based artist Denice Quimbo, who goes by the stage name Ruru, is sharing vulnerability and healing through music. Capturing the internet’s attention after self-producing and self-releasing two successful projects, Sleep EP and Far Out, within the last few years, Ruru’s bedroom-pop and intimate dreamy approach in her music feels as if we’re catching up with an old friend.
And that’s exactly what it felt like when Silk Club got the chance to talk to the artist after her Austin show during their US tour with Filipino indie musician Mellow Fellow. After finding a quiet spot outside the venue and sneaking out her shot of tequila in one of our shirt pockets, we talked with Ruru about her creative process, background, love for film, and more.
Ashley: How’s your day going?
Ruru: It’s good, ya know? We’ve been traveling by van everyday now and it’s quite tiring, but it’s really fun! It’s my first time being in the states, so I’m very grateful to have this opportunity.
Supriya: We read online that you are/were in film school. How is that going? Are there any films that influenced your music?
Ruru: I was in film school and I just graduated this year! (What am I going to do with this degree!? Just kidding...) Films that influenced my music...hmm...Comet...if you guys know that film.
Supriya: I love the soundtrack!
Ruru: The movie itself really impacted me because it’s very…..ya know?
Supriya: Yeah, yeah!
Sandra: We don’t, aha...
Ashley: Is it like a coming of age movie? Drama?
Supriya and Ruru: Nooooooo...
Ashley: What genre?
Ruru: It’s a romance but tragedy.
Supriya: It’s sad.
Ruru: Very sad. Because when I wrote the song, I was trying to get over someone, and I watched Comet because my best friend was raving about. I was like, “What’s that?” Then I watched it and I was like, “Oh my god this hits. This hits hard. I gotta sample this.” Because when you’re a musician you gotta sample everything haha. And it ended up on my song Changing. A lot of films actually influence me, but as a film student, there’s sooo many films to keep up with, and it’s hard to pinpoint which films had an influence on me but Comet was notable.
Sandra: Where did the name Ruru come from?
Ruru: Long story but in high school my sister gave me this really weird nickname and called me “Demi” because I had Demi Lovato bangs from Camp Rock.
Sandra: *audibly gasps* Oh my god...
Ruru: I know. That happened and I was like, “I wanna change my identity!!!” My second name is Ruiza, so I said maybe Ru is a good name, and then people in college doubled the syllable and called me Ruru because it’s cute. So that became my name!
Sandra: *still in shock* Oh my god the Demi bangs…. I would like to see them.
Ruru: No. It’s horrible!
Ashley: When did you first get into song-writing and making music overall? When did you start taking it a bit more seriously?
Ruru: In 2014! I was home-schooled but for extra curriculars, I went to an actual school. The community there was really musically-inclined and we passed time by jamming!
Random person in the street, shouting from a distance: Are y’all ready to turn up??!
Ruru: Yeah, let’s go!!!
Random person, pointing at a specific bar: Y’all gonna go in here?
Ruru: Oh, sorry! We’re in the middle of something... but I have a shot! Am turning it :-)
Sandra: I’m loving this interview so far.
Ruru: But yeah! I was in a musically-inclined community and a lot of the people ended up in local bands that eventually blew up, and that really inspired me. I used to attend extra classes for creative writing in high school, so prior to song-writing, I was dipping in and out of fiction and poetry. I also got into classical piano lessons at a very young age and idolized Hannah Montana. So I was like, maybe I should try writing. Not for him; however, for myself. I remember visualizing writing songs in my head, but I never really did it until 2014 to 2016 when teenage angst hit. My best friend was also the only one at the time who pushed me to upload on Soundcloud. She would tell me how she loved my music and would sing along. That really kept me going.
Supriya: What is your song-writing process? And what inspires you?
Ruru: I think stories in general. Like there are songs I write about myself as well as my friends and things that happen to them. For example, Another, was not about me but was about a friend. She was in a one-year relationship but the guy wasn’t really that into the relationship, but she wanted to be tied down and be in a committed relationship. But the guy was like, “Nahhh I kinda wanna just have fun and still go out at night,” so yeah, it’s something like that. My song-writing process isn’t limited to my experiences but includes the place I’m in, my environment, and my people. Another example is Tonight!, which was inspired by the city I was living in — Manila. It’s very chaotic. It’s polluted, has traffic all the time, and is very gray. It’s the opposite of America because when I came here, everything is broad and wide. But in Manila, it’s very tight. At the same time, I learned to love it though. It’s where I spent my college years at.
Sandra: How has your cultural background shaped your connection to music and art?
Ruru: If you think of the Philippines, it’s quite limiting in a sense because it’s actually a miracle that my music reached this wide of an audience. I live on literally the other end of America on a small island like the end of the planet or something haha. So when I think back at it, I'm like, “Wow...How did that happen?” Being from the Philippines, it’s a third world country, so getting here was very difficult. We had to go through a lot to get to America. But it shaped me in a way that the limitations helped me grow. A perfect analogy for it is like a big bird in a small cage. There’s a song by Patrick Watson called Big Bird in a Small Cage and the chorus says something like “You put a big bird in a small cage and it will sing you a song,” and that is basically how I feel. I feel really small.
Ashley: While touring the US so far, is there anything that has struck or surprised you?
Ruru: I think how different the environment gets... like from California to Texas it’s so different...wow!! There’s so much to see, and it’s so great! Even seeing people and how they interact. And the trees and sh*t!
Sandra: Are y’all going to New York?
Ruru: Hopefully next year!
Supriya: You mentioned in interviews earlier this year that you’re working on a new EP to be released later this year. How is that coming along? Are you approaching it differently compared to past projects?
Ruru: It’s going to be different. My past stuff has been more minimal, but this time it’s going to be different. Polo (Mellow Fellow) has a studio, and we’ve been working on stuff together. I have been learning more about production, and it’s so cool. I’m so excited to show everyone! Like it’s the same but it’s also different. There are more instruments, and it just sounds more full. A fuller sound. A more realized sound.
Sandra: Do you know when it will be coming out?
Ruru: Next year for sure!
Sandra: Do you know your zodiac sign?
Ruru: Yeah, it’s Libra!
Ashley and Sandra: ASJKFHASJGAKFJA
Sandra: Oh my god. Oh my god!!! I guessed that!!!
Ruru: Wait, wait, HOW did you know???
Ashley: First of all, all Libras are beautiful because you’re ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Ruru: Oh my god.
Sandra: Ashley asked me, “What do you think her zodiac sign is?” and I said, “Libra. It HAS TO BE Libra” because you give off like soft energy, but it’s also chaotic. Like when you asked, “Can I put this (shot of tequila) in your (Ashley’s) shirt?” Oh my god that’s so random, and I thought, “Who does that???”
Ruru: She offered!! She offered her skills!!!
Sandra: But I feel like normal people would be like, “What??? No, I won’t put my shot of tequila in your shirt to sneak out!” Only air signs would do that...
Ruru: I’m— I’m exposed.
Sandra: Do you know the rest of your chart?
Ruru: I don’t really know too much, like sun, moon, and all that? I think Libra, Scorpio, Sag….?
Ashley: Scorpio moon?
Sandra: Sag rising?
Ashley: *gasp* I’m a Sag rising too! *proceeds to hold Ruru’s hand in response to this news*
Sandra: Oh my god, y’all have a connection...but wow you’re a Libra. My mind…I knew… the intuition...
Ruru: What are your signs?
Sandra: I’m a Leo.
Supriya: I’m a Capricorn.
Ashley: I’m a Cancer.
Ruru: Interesting….. I have a lot of close Leo friends… it’s weird.
Ashley: I love that for you.
Sandra: Interesting... air and fire…
Ashley: If you were tasked with putting together a girlband, which other four members would you pick?
Ruru: My sister for sure. She’s the one that influenced my music taste.
Sandra: Does she make music?
Ruru: She doesn’t. I was never the type to surf for music, but she’s the type to like be on Tumblr, 8tracks, etc. and know about all these artists. I would always be like, “What are you listening to?” but the next day be like, “OMG this is a bop!” She plays guitar. I play piano. I’d have her in my band because I know she’s good, and she has good taste. Who else…. hmmm… probably my best friend too. That’s all I can think of to be honest!
Supriya: What’s your desert island album? Top three?
Ruru: That’s hard! Very hard! I gotta look through my Spotify…. (proceeds to pull out phone and scroll through Spotify).... probably, as of now, Miracle Mile by STRFKR, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon by King Krule, and all of Alex G!
Sandra: We’re down to our last question… if you could contribute to the soundtrack of any movie, which would you choose and why?
Ruru: I'm a really bad film student because most film students — at least my classmates — will be like, “How are you even a film student if you don’t know this film??? You don’t know this film???” They sound so pretentious.
Sandra: So pretentious!!! No offense to film majors… you’re the only exception… y’all are so irritating!!!
Ashley: Especially the men.
Ruru: Yes!! They’ll be like, “You’re not a real film major if you haven’t seen this.”
Supriya: And it’s just Pulp Fiction.
Ruru, Sandra, and Ashley: Yessssssss uggghhhhh.
Sandra: It’s ALWAYS Pulp Fiction.
Ashley: Or it will be like a really sexist movie where women don’t really exist.
Sandra: Ugh, Scott Pilgrim.
Ruru: Scott Pilgrim hahahaha!
Sandra: They’ll be like, “You haven’t seen this masterpiece?” and I’m like… *crickets*
Ruru: “You haven’t seen The Godfather?”
Sandra: I hateeee!
Ruru: But yeah ... a film’s soundtrack I would contribute to ... probably Her.
Supriya: Yesssss. It’s so good!
Ruru: I really like the soundtrack already. Like, Arcade Fire? Sooo goood. I can cry to it like every night.
Check out Ruru’s music on Spotify, Apple Music, or Soundcloud!