Rue Snider has released two albums and four EPs, and toured America extensively since 2012. He has made appearances at SXSW and Folk Alliance International, and shared the stage with Lydia Loveless, Tom Maxwell (Squirrel Nut Zippers), Nate Farley (Guided By Voices), and Superhuman Happiness. He recently finished recording his third LP in Nashville, to be released in 2018. When he’s not on the road, Rue lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In this interview spotlight, I chat with Rue about challenges, motivations, his recent projects and more.
Full Q&A along with links and music below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I grew up in the 1980s and fell in love with songs. I became enamored with melodies and lyrics that have something to say before I knew how to read. I remember the first time I heard “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Time After Time,” and “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” and “Brothers In Arms,” among so many other songs. I remember the effect the sound coming out of the speakers had on me as a kid. I’ve never been faithful to a genre of music. It’s always the song that gets me. When I started writing my own songs they came out really folky partly because of the the simple way I learned to play guitar and partly because somewhere in my early teens I discovered Bob Dylan. Those early records make you believe in the power of an acoustic guitar and a voice. The longer I make music the more the sound ebbs and flows. My latest single, “Moving Me (Brothertiger Remix),” is a chillwave, electronic, unrequited love song about crushing on women who play guitar. I was grateful that Brothertiger built a track around my vocal that captures the spirit of a lot of the cool music that came out of the 1980s. I have a rock record finished coming out next year that is somewhere between “She’s So Unusual” Cyndi Lauper and “The Queen Is Dead” by The Smiths.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
I grew up in a musical home with a dad who was an elementary school music teacher and a mother who loved playing records. There was a lot of pressure to play instruments, which I resisted of course. Music has been a powerful, constant force in my life that goes back as far as my earliest memories. There was always a freedom in music growing up when so many other things felt oppressive or even shameful. Music always felt free. I’ve been writing songs for a while now. At a certain point it ceased being a hobby or a craft and started to overtake me. It became my primary way of interacting with the energy of the Universe. I think that music is one of the forces that bind us together as living beings. It taps into that primal source. A perfect pop song can make you believe in love when you’ve given up. Music can remind you why life is worth living and talk you back from the edge of disaster. It’s bigger than any of us. It’s been around since before the big bang. I want to be close to that kind of energy.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
This is the first remix I’ve commissioned. It’s my first foray into electronic music. I’m definitely attempting to court a larger audience and put my folk side to sleep for a bit. The next album is very intentionally not acoustic or folky. I think people who discover my songs for the first time with the “Moving Me” remix will be excited about the next record.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
The biggest obstacle for me to making music is money. Period. I write songs constantly, daily. I have lists of musicians, producers, and engineers I’m dying to work with. I have big, hooky rock songs that could be performed on a grand scale with a full band. Everything requires money though, and lots of it. It’s very difficult to have a creative career without access to vast reservoirs of cash. It’s a chicken/egg situation. You need a strong team to get help get your music into people’s ears, but the folks you need to help grow your career often require other pieces to be in place before they come on board. Its a business after all and there are thousands of people who write awesome songs. The quality of your work has to be at a certain level but getting your music heard once it’s at that level has very little to do with what you made. Building a team is a circle and it’s difficult to get it spinning. Thankfully I have an awesome manager who took a risk on me. She works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. That’s one seat at the table in place. Sometimes it feel like two steps forward three steps back. I keep creating and screaming what I need at the top of my lungs. Some unexpected stuff has happened as a result. We’ve been able to grow my brand and move the chains little by little, never knowing where the cash is going to come from for the next step. I believe firmly in the compound effect and that effort eventually reaps dividends. So head down, keep going. No matter what.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
My music is on all the platforms. People can access it on whatever service they’re most excited about using. My website is www.musicbyrue.com. We updated it all the time and it’s awesome. I perform mini acoustic sets live on Facebook on a regular basis. I’m very active on Instagram. All of my socials are /musicbyrue or @musicbyrue depending on the service.
Anything else before we sign off?
Love passionately. Forgive. Let go of fear. Do not give up, ever. Remember that life is short. Make a joyful noise.