Amber Rubarth is here 10/22 with Ryan Montbleau! Mei caught up with Amber for a little behind the scenes Q&A. Where and when was your first show?
When I first started playing guitar and writing songs I was living in Reno. One night a couple friends and I packed up our guitars and were going to an open mic, but when we got there it was closed. We really wanted to play so we walked to the next coffee shop we could find and decided to play songs in the corner until we got kicked out. We ended up playing for an hour and the next day the manager called and asked if we would do a weekly Sunday night residency there. He asked how much we wanted to be paid (I'd never been paid for music before) and I said twenty dollars. That next week he gave each of us twenty dollars and it felt like gold. We didn't have a mic stand yet so one of us would hold the microphone for the other person, which was plugged into a cheap radio shack amplifier, until their arm got tired and you found yourself leaning to sing into it, then we would switch. It was an amazing experience and became a scene in Reno where everyone would come down, other musicians would guest for the night, and it really felt like a community and provided some amazing experiences.
What band/artist would you consider to be your main influence?
Tom Waits and his album Mule Variations was the first album I fell in love with. I love how visual and impressionistic he is. He leaves a lot of the story up to the listener. I love so many artists, other early albums that really got me were Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Patty Griffin, Dylan. I also love Chopin and Cole Porter. And am constantly inspired by discovering good songs, mostly old ones lately.
What is one of your most memorable or off-the-wall touring experiences?
I was touring in the south of Germany and a man up front was mouthing every single word to every song I had, even the ones that were not recorded on albums yet and only had live versions online. After the concert he came up with all of my albums which he had bought online to have them signed, and he didn't speak a word of English. He said a thick accented Thank you and then sorry no English. It had such an impact on me to remember that music is beyond language and what we're exchanging is above the words. It's the same reason I love touring alone through countries that aren't primarily speak English is I find a few days into it my mind moves back more like a child's mind, more visual and conceptual than linguistic. I find the observations and interactions feel a lot more pure and inclusive in this state, not needing to fit anything into a pre-set container.
Favorite Food: Unagi
Favorite Drink: Makers & Ginger
If you were to have a film/movie based on your career, which actors or band would you select to portray yourself?
Aye. I grew up with cinema narcolepsy so don't have a lot of say on this. But I feel like it would have to be some unknown actress who's stumbling through just trying to figure things out by trial and error, an untrained but enthusiastic to learn lady throwing herself into various situations and feeling things out in the moment.
What two words would best describe your music? Curious. Disarmed.