Ruby Kendrick, a.k.a. Ruby the Rabbitfoot, is from Athens, Ga., but the indie songstress is getting some well-deserved attention over in Japan. "It's so bizarre. I don't know how any of it really happened," Kendrick says. Recently, Kendrick was singled out as the subject for a spread in Nero, an über-polished Japanese fashion magazine with an American-music focus, and the photos alone offer up a bit of a clue as to why the Land of the Rising Sun loves her.
With hair that's often partly blue or pink or adorned with flowers, butterflies, or fruit, Kendrick's quirky and colorful aesthetic certainly is in-line with the stylings of Japanese youth culture. And in her videos for the songs "Ways" and "Misery," both of which she produced, you'll find lots of cute quirk, from sunglass-wearing pineapples to naked Barbie bonfires. "Yeah, I realized when we had the shoot they were all about the rainbows and the glitter," admits Kendrick, who was photographed by Nero's Natalie Neal wearing a rainbow-colored fishnet swimsuit and made up with glittered eyelids and a popped bubblegum bubble on her lips.
But that bedazzled world of hers isn't the only beautiful thing about Ruby the Rabbitfoot. Her radiant music is turning heads, too — particularly 2014's New as Dew.
Released two years after Kendrick's debut No Weight No Chain, New as Dew is a vibrant, confident collection. "Honestly, I can't even listen to my first record," she admits. "It's so funny, because I feel like I'm just whining. I think maybe New as Dew is more sure-footed, like I think I might be having more fun."
Though No Weight shows some of what Kendrick's capable of, New as Dew gets the job done. More indie pop than the previous disc's alt-country leanings, the new record was inspired by artists like Fiona Apple and Cat Power. The result: songs that are shinier and less lovelorn than No Weight. "The first one seems so sad to me," she says. "This one has more jokes. I like to be funnier somehow. It's hard to do, I feel like, because you want to be taken seriously, but I really can't take myself too seriously."
One thing hasn't changed from one release to the next: the subject matter for her songs. "They're still all about boys, which is annoying," Kendrick says. "I'm really trying. It's hard, because, you know — love — everyone wants to write about it."
Kendrick humbly has no idea why the simple but enchanting track "Ways" is, so far, her most popular single. "That day I wrote the song, this boyfriend of mine at the time was gettin' on my nerves so bad, I just had to go," she laughs. "And so I just drove to Milledgeville [Ga.] I was just so frustrated ... he was driving me fucking crazy."
And then there's "Misery," the first song recorded for New. With vocals slightly reminiscent of Jenny Lewis, Kendrick sings, "I can see it in your eyes, you might ruin me." Kendrick explains, "You know when you really like someone, like to the point where you know they're probably gonna hurt your feelings, but you don't care?"
She adds, "It's kind of a fun and sexy song, like, 'Come on over here and make me miserable, like, whatever — just ruin my life, that's fine.'"
Though Kendrick is still promoting New as Dew — in March, she'll release a video for the record's "As Bad as I Am," shot also by Los Angeles-based Neal — she's also apparently "balls deep" into the next album. The yet-to-be-titled record won't see the light of day until next year, but something tells us it'll be worth the wait. "I'm always listening to R&B and hip-hop, and I think with this new record, I'm really gonna go there — as much as I could do something like that," she says.
On songs like "New as Dew," Kendrick uses a delicate spoken-word style, which she reckons must come from her hankering for hip-hop. "It's like rap, but not like in the traditional sense," she says.
And you may find a cool cover or two on the next disc, too. "I'm working on a cover of Madonna's 'Take a Bow,'" she says. "It's like the hardest song I've ever freaking done. It's so intimidating, but I think just paying attention to that sort of slow BPM is gonna be good for me in the long run.
"I'm studying," Kendrick adds. "I'm like in R&B school right now, and it's really fun."