Ruth B — the “B” stands for “Berhe” — is the latest Canadian export to generate buzz in the US. The singer began her career sharing songs on Vine before being discovered after a snippet of “Lost Boy,” her hit single, went viral. The song landed on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Erykah Badu even shared a clip of her daughter Puma singing the song on Instagram.
ESSENCE spoke to the singer about “Lost Boy,” her latest single, “Superficial Love,” and working on her debut album.
You were initially discovered through Vine, then later started sharing videos on YouTube after fans urged you to release a full version of “Lost Boy” and more covers. What was it about Vine that drew you to it for sharing music? How do you feel now that the app is shutting down?
Vine was super easy for me to access and it helped me tap into my creativity. I only had 6 seconds to make people hear me and it was kind of a thrill. I will always have mad love for the app and its creators, it changed a lot of lives.
What place do you think social media has in music?
Social media is an incredible tool for staying connected and having that personal connection to the people who listen to my music is so important because I want to know them as much as they know me. I want their stories to make their ways into my songs.
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“Lost Boy” was a big success, first through social media, then radio. Were you surprised at the amount of attention the song got and how much it blew up?
I was very surprised. I knew when I wrote it that it was special but I didn’t realize it would resonate with people the way that it did.
What inspired you to write “Lost Boy”? Are you a fan of Peter Pan and what is it about the story that resonates with you?
The initial inspiration behind “Lost Boy” was a TV show called Once Upon A Time. When I sat down to write the full thing, it became much more than that. I wrote it at a time when I was feeling kind of alone. I like the idea of finding yourself in something. I think the story of Peter Pan has a lot of great messages.
You latest single, “Superficial Love” is a song that resonates with everyone. Was it inspired by situations you’ve witnessed, love in general, or was it about a specific moment or person in your life?
“Superficial Love” was inspired by a moment in time in my life. I’ve just always been that girl that preaches about real love and authenticity and then I kind of found myself settling for less. “Superficial Love” was a reality check for myself.
Do you find that now with your growing success people are harder to read? Do you worry that people are being superficial when you meet them?
I think at any point in your life you’re going to come across people who don’t have the best intentions. You just have to make sure you have your eyes open.
How do you know when a relationship is getting serious? And, what advice or tips do you have for people who’re looking for real love?
I think just look for something that makes you feel. REALLY FEEL. I feel like this generation is so caught up in the best filter, or pose, or caption, and sometimes you stop feeling. “Couple goals” this and that. Don’t be in a relationship for other people, be in it because it makes you feel right.
You once described yourself as a kind of social introvert, do you think that’s something that will change now that you’re working in the music industry? Do you see yourself becoming more of an extrovert?
I see myself growing into the person I’m meant to be. I like who I am right now and I won’t ever mold into anything for any industry. I just want to grow the same way I would if I were still in college.
When you’re not writing and recording, what do you do to relax and have fun? Any hobbies or things you’re currently obsessed with?
I love to read, I love hanging out with my friends, I love eating pizza, and I’m currently obsessed with the TV show Riverdale. It’s.so.good.
You’re working with Joel Little, who helped with Lorde’s first album, so musically what can we expect from your debut?
Joel is great! I really wanted to work with someone who could understand me as a new artist. He was really great at getting my wacky terminology. It’s a great feeling when you can tell someone, “I want this to sound windy,” and they just get it.
If you had to put together a playlist that perfectly sums up who you are, which songs would you include?
That’s a good question, whoa. “Tell Him” by Lauryn Hill, “Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da” by The Beatles, “Radio” by Lana Del Rey, and “iSpy” by Kyle ft. Lil Yachty. That’s where I’m at in life, right now. All over the place!