For those who know Central Coast artist Ruby Archer, the extent of her potential has never been in doubt. She's kept us guessing, however, with how exactly that potential would flourish. In 2023, the seventeen-year-old has found new comfort and confidence in sharing stages and studios with others.
After captivating audiences (including us) with her solo performances, Archer has jumped head first into collaboration. Her new band, 'Ruby and the Groovy Doobies' was assembled ahead of a triumphant run in the NSW YouthRock competition that ultimately saw the quartet crowned champions. The band name, Archer says, was actually sanitised a little in order not to ruffle too many feathers - it was a youth competition, after all.
"Our original name was gonna be 'Ruby Dooby and the Groovy Boobies', but that wasn't PG enough, so I changed it to something more PG… hoping that [YouthRock organisers] wouldn't catch on, which they didn't; and then we won the competition", Archer told Homebrewed.au.
The band's success at YouthRock saw them push ahead with the project, playing local shows and continuing to write together, with some personnel changes along the way.
For Archer, suddenly having a band with her on stage has completely changed the experience of performing. She has traded the "vulnerability" of performing with only her piano as company for the fun of sharing the stage with more people, instruments and noise.
"It's definitely made gigs a lot more fun. It's given me a lot more energy and it's really let the crazy person in me come out when I'm performing."
As far as the writing process goes, the jump into bandom has seen Archer find new growth in stepping out of her comfort zone. Her band mates in the 'Doobies - Blake, Liam and Micah - were her friends first, meaning comfort in an unchartered creative environment was easier to find.
"I've definitely had to adapt to having other musical energy in the room because everyone is so skilled," Archer said.
"Being a solo artist you have control over everything. You have control over what it sounds like, how you perform it; and then adding these other elements to it was kind of scary in a way.
"But collaborating and seeing what other people's styles and tastes can give to your music and experimenting with that has been such a growth process."
The new collaborations haven't stopped with the 'Doobies. Archer has teamed up with a Jazz trio for her soon-to-be-released track, Love Again. Homebrewed.au was lucky enough to premiere the track back in April.
"It was pretty daunting at first but then being able to collaborate with those musicians and create a really authentically Jazzy sound was such an honour… they really did it so much justice and it was such an amazing experience," Archer said of the release.
Love Again is Ruby Archer at her best - both vulnerable and commanding at once. Her vocals are effortlessly at home amongst a saxophone, double bass, Jazz percussion and, of course, piano.
Reflecting on Love Again, Archer finds gratitude in the fact that bad experiences are often the genesis of good music, "After having experiences with love that feel more painful than happy, it sort of puts you in the mindset of being fearful of it or not really bothered with it," she said.
"That's what that song reflects - being in that mindset. But I'm now able to use that to make some pretty cool music instead."
To compare Love Again with Ruby and the Groovy Doobies' latest release, New Dream, is to understand the breadth of Ruby Archer's ability. Both will feature on her upcoming debut album, Oh So Tender, which is being produced by the legendary Jack Nigro from The Grove Studios in Somersby. Create NSW will also be contributing to the project in the form of funding support.
To say we're excited to hear a full album from Ruby Archer would be an understatement. While the company she keeps on stage and in studio has transformed lately, Archer's latest releases have shown that the adventurous, unapologetic core of her artistry remains unchanged.
The Central Coast local is relishing in the opportunities created in good company, prompting new growth for an artist with a creative IQ already well beyond her years.
Hear our full chat with Ruby Archer here.