A vocalist, composer, writer, vocal mentor, activist and the lead of her band Paper Dragon; in just 4 years, Ruth Royall has become one of the most important names in Drum & Bass. It’s absurd to think that her Drum & Bass journey began in 2019 because it practically feels like she has been involved in the scene for decades!
Her euphoric style of soul-filled Drum & Bass swings across the light and dark spectrums of Drum & Bass through collaborations with the likes of Grafix, Pola & Bryson, Makoto, D*Minds, Subsonic and many more. It’s not just Drum & Bass; Ruth Royall’s powerful vocals have taken her to the lands of House and Breaks while working with some of the biggest imprints in those realms and through her Paper Dragon band.
Through our ‘Artist of The Month’ series, we will take you on a ride through Ruth Royall’s best work to date in our opinion, her DJing motif, and a candid chat that we had with her. But first, to kick things off, we are going to delve deep into Ruth Royall’s evolution right from her days as a neo-soul artist to one of the distinguished names in Drum & Bass.
Ruth Royall’s love affair with Drum & Bass began when she was 14, but her work in the music industry began away from the genre as a sessions singer. Bristol-born and bred, she moved to London in her early twenties where she became a prominent name in the capital city’s Neo-Soul and Jazz scenes. Along with her work in music, she also worked in the adverts and film space as a creative composer.
She landed her first album in 2011 and then toured Germany through the album but something about Ruth Royall as a Jazz moniker didn’t sit well with her. She was approached by renowned London-based label Decca Records to sign for them but she wasn’t keen on being recognized as a Jazz artist. She made a move back to Bristol to rekindle her love for Drum & Bass and auditioned for Fred V & Grafix’s live show.
The duo loved her work and Ruth Royall went on a tour with them which became the moment that kickstarted her journey into Drum & Bass as an artist.
BACK TO THE GENRE SHE LOVED
After touring with Fred V & Grafix, the duo, unfortunately, made a move away from each other to pursue their solo projects. The move was a heartbreaker for Drum & Bass heads but after the split, Grafix approached Ruth Royall if she would like to write music together and it was an offer she couldn’t refuse.
Her first release as a Drum & Bass artist came in August 2019 on the title track of Grafix’s Refuge EP for a progressive dancefloor tune, a style which she is widely known for. Soon after came another massive collaboration with Pola & Bryson for ‘Running In The Dark’ on Shogun Audio. Since then, Ruth Royall’s ascension to one of the most important artists in the scene has been fascinating and inspiring.
In just under 3 years, her catalogue boasts releases on labels like Hospital Records, Viper Recordings, Spearhead Records, Soulvent Records, Korsakov Music, Elevate Records, Rampage Recordings, 31 Recordings and UKF. Along with her exploits on Drum & Bass labels, she has also released some House and Breaks material on Stress Records and Kitten Records.
2021 also saw the release on her ‘Colours’ EP on Soulvent Records where she teamed up with Makoto and Mitekiss for two Liquid Drum & Bass stunners followed by a deep and punchy number with Blacklab.
Ruth Royall’s voice is alluring. All of her releases, whether it is the dark or the bright side of Drum & Bass, have always had a common thread and that is her affiliation with making music for the soul. Which is exactly the thing she has done with her euphoric yet hypnotic and captivating vocals for some of the best tunes we have heard over the years.
Along with her solo project, Ruth Royall was keen on taking things back to her roots where she performed collectively as a band. She then reached out to her friend Jonathan Savage and along with Bruce Turner and Kris Burton from the electronic duo Playhead, the result was a proper bunch of like-minded people who were on board with the idea of combining songwriting with performance visuals for music that is progressive, pulsating and breathes Drum & Bass, House, Soul and Electronica in it.
Starting out in 2019 with a few self-releases, the band was keen on having their own imprint to release their music which would give them the creative width to experiment, and that’s how Our Space Records came to life. Fast forward to 2022, the band has released intriguing tunes like Reach, Landslide, Chimera, and many more through their debut EP called ‘Circuits‘ while featuring the likes of Grafix, Axel Boy and Sakkura on the label.
Now firmly etched in Bristol’s rich music circuit, the band have also taken their music to live shows where they translate their cinematic style of music into live form.
Along with being a breathtaking artist, Ruth Royall is also an activist and through her #KeepItReal campaign, she has been the voice against the negative social media norms that define how we should look on social platforms. The campaign started when Ruth Royall was scrolling through pictures on Instagram which showed THE perfect images followed by adverts about losing weight.
Being infuriated, she posted a picture on Facebook saying that she is going to stop using filters which normalize the notion that it is totally normal to use filters and not express ourselves the way we are. What followed is a flurry of DMs with people narrating their stories about how they were affected by these norms and how the campaign has helped them express themselves.
The #KeepItReal campaign earned support from all corners of the Drum & Bass fraternity and it led to a number of Drum & Bass artists working with Ruth Royall to raise awareness about the campaign followed by a BBC Radio Bristol appearance talking about the initiative.
That sums up the incredible career of the amazing Ruth Royall so far, who has donned multiple roles and aced each of them. Next up, we are going to list some of our favorite tunes from the Bristol-based producer that have made her a force to reckon with. Stay tuned!