HomeInterviewsRuby Dear's Jenny Founds on Musical Inspiration, The Contender & New Music

Ruby Dear’s Jenny Founds on Musical Inspiration, The Contender & New Music

Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi/JeffCrespiROCKS.com

Last summer, we discovered the Bethlehem, PA-based trio, Ruby Dear, hen they played at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park for the venue’s Happy Mondays show. Listeners (like us) had the chance to hear Ruby Dear’s strong vocals, emotionally-charged lyrics and hard-hitting arrangements that create an overall powerhouse of sound.

The Pop Break had the opportunity to speak with frontwoman Jenny Founds of Ruby Dear to discuss their musical inspirations, the distinct style of their music, their song “Contender” and their recently released debut album.

Who is Ruby Dear? Ruby Dear consists of Jenny Founds (Guitar, Vocals), Jesse Braun (Bass, Vocals), and Jon Braun (Drums, Vocals).

Where are some of your favorite places to play in the Bethlehem, PA area? 

Most definitely our favorite place in Bethlehem, PA is The Funhouse. All three of us have been in multiple projects over the past decade that have played at the Funhouse frequently and even had debut shows there for new projects (which is where we first premiered Ruby Dear back in February of this year). It’s a magical place where there’s live music seven days a week, is family owned, and one of the last rock and roll dive bars in existence.

Who are some of the bands and artists that inspire you? In what ways do they influence your music?  

The three of us all listen to a huge variety of music. I personally was raised on early jazz and in my teenage years simultaneously fell in love with Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and Iron Maiden, so the inspiration really comes from a variety of sources. As a female guitarist, vocalist, songwriter it’s hard to ignore St. Vincent’s influence on me in recent years. I don’t necessarily believe the Ruby Dear sound can be directly related to Annie Clark’s writing, but the inspiration of a woman in my life time fronting a band and playing lead guitar is definitely not lost on me.

What makes the music of Ruby Dear so distinct? 

Sonically this project has been quite interesting in the development of the songs. As a songwriter, I typically begin with an acoustic guitar and free form poetry, crafting the chords and melodies around the story I’m telling with the words. When it’s time to bring those songs to the band, I play them as written, stripped down acoustic, and as a trio we play around with ideas; make it faster, make it minor, change the time signature, throw on distortion. Both Jon and Jesse have experience playing in a variety of projects that span from surf rock to punk, funk, metal and beyond, so having their experience and skill sets gives us the opportunity to really experiment when we get in the rehearsal studio.

How does the music of Ruby Dear showcase your style and who you are as a musician? 

Most people who have seen me throughout my life would consider me a singer primarily, even though I am a multi-instrumentalist. Ruby Dear gives me the opportunity to not only sing but play guitar, which has been a really refreshing opportunity. After falling in love with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, and CSN in high school I became obsessed with finger picking, so a lot of these songs feature that technique which in a heavier rock setting is not typically the first method you’d use. As a singer, I attempt to blend a mix of the story telling wordiness of Joni and the wailing of Janis Joplin or Jeff Buckley; I hope the listener gets a sense of what the song is trying to say from both the words and the delivery.

How has your background of touring around the country performing with artists like Jon Anderson and Perry Farrell, being a part of the Talking Head tribute band Start Making Sense and just generally being a musician for 10-plus years influenced the dynamics of being in a band and creating your own original music? How has all that experience prepared you for Ruby Dear? 

As a teenager I had the opportunity to tour and play shows with some incredible artists through the School of Rock. Having that early tour experience as a teenager allowed me to taste what it is like to play rock shows, sometimes for a ton of people, sometimes for no people, and get a glimpse at the life of being a road-dog musician.

To play that incredible music with those special guests only added fuel to the fire in my desire to spend my life working towards creating original music and playing it live for as many people as possible. Through touring with Start Making Sense, I not only got closer to Ruby Dear band mates Jon and Jesse, but also furthered that real life education of what it means to be a professional musician. It’s been a crazy ride, but after years of paying tribute to other people’s music it’s really incredible to get to make original material with Jesse and Jon.

I watched a video in which you performed your song “Contender.” It made me curious to know: What is the story behind this track? What’s the main idea or theme that comes across to listeners in this song?

“Contender” is a song I wrote a few years back right after I got out of a relationship that was not a walk in the park. I was visiting my folks around that time, and as a family we are huge fans of older films. I was wrapped up in the breakup, still upset by the recent split, going over everything in my head on a loop while simultaneously watching On The Waterfront for the millionth time with my father.

Marlon Brando’s in the back seat of a car on the screen lamenting “I coulda been a contender” and the song started coming up in my head like a receipt being printed, one line at a time and super loud. The connection of that hook lyric, “you could have been a contender” and the relationship I was reminiscing over was really the idea of mourning the potential the relationship had and then the subsequent loss of that, which I hope listeners can relate to on some level.

What all can you tell us about the upcoming recording? What should listeners be expecting to hear?

Listeners can expect to hear a rock record with personal lyrics telling stories, tight trio arrangements, a little shifting of genres from song to song, and a dash of some wailing vocals.

What are you most excited about regarding your new album? 

This band is such a new project that it’s been difficult to nail down who we are or what our “sound” is, so in the mean time we’ve been recording and playing as many shows as possible. I know that all of us in Ruby Dear are excited to release this album and see what listeners think of us coming through their speakers.

When you reflect back on it all, what is the best part about creating and performing music as Ruby Dear? 

There’s two answers to this question, the first being the opportunity to “find my voice” (as cliche as that sounds). After touring for years paying tribute to other artists it’s been the biggest excitement of my life to work on and put out music that is coming from my own mind. The other part of Ruby Dear that is incredible is the fact that the three of us are family; Jesse and I just celebrated our three year anniversary as a couple and Jon is Jesse’s older brother. They’ve been touring in Start Making Sense for almost ten years, and I came on to the project about four years ago. After spending all that time together on the road it is incredible to not only make original music but make original music with family.

Laura Curry
Laura Curry
Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.

Most Recent

Stay Connected