We had the incredible opportunity to interview an amazing Bulgarian soul/pop artist named Ruth Koleva. We love her music, message, and think her story is one of empowerment and strength. We hope you enjoy this interview and start following Ruth and her amazing talents.
Hi, this is Hannah from Unheard Gems and we are really glad we finally get the chance to talk! I have a list of questions from Unheard Gems followers and myself for this interview and I was hoping you could answer them and give us a bit more insight into the music and story of Ruth Koleva.
UG: So to start out with a bit of background, when did you first know you wanted to pursue music or when did you start working on your music?
RK: I started off quite young, my first performances were with Drum and Bass producers, and quickly started doing shows in front of 4-5 000 people. That was when I was 15. Than I slowly transitioned to live music - soul / nu jazz. Got the chance to meet great artists around the time I was 18. 4 hero, Bugz in the Attic, Tricky, Lamb, Roots Manuva. Than I recorded my first album with Flowriders in Amsterdam with Richard Spaven, Sharlene Hector, Han Litz from Jazzanova. It was great.
UG: Why were you drawn to music? What could you say better through music versus another art medium or platform?
RK: I have been singing ever since I could remember my self. I think my mom's dream was also to be an artist, but she never achieved that due to restrictions from the communist regime. I started writing music when my parents divorced, maybe due to the fact I really missed my mother (and twin brother) back then. It was my only way to really express the depth of my loneliness.
UG: How would you characterize your genre or type of music, also how have you seen it evolve as you have grown as an artist?
RK: I try not to put my music in any too specific genres. I like to experiment. If it's real than I don't care...anymore. As every growing artist you try to "fit" in a particular scene. At this point in life I'd rather not fit anywhere.
UG: Your new album “Confidence.Truth” is due this March, what can you tell us about the album and what message are you trying to get across? What inspired this album?
RK: It was recorded and written during the saddest point in my life. I got diagnosed with clinical depression few months before I started working on it. And that emptiness I felt, the meaningless of life, I tried to transform all that into music. It's a story of ups and downs (actually more downs), about life, about how you can search and you can try, but nothing means anything if you lose the will to live. I didn't. Thank God.
UG: You also have a new video for “What You Say To A Girl”, can you tell us about this video and the deep meaning and cause behind it.
RK: Every 3d women in the world suffers from some form of domestic violence. From the country I am from, it's the same, but due to 40 years of communism - domestic violence is one of this things that people still believe it should be "Kept in the family". There's no real protection and no proper intervention when it comes to women's safety. Only last year 10 women were killed in domestic violence cases in Bulgaria (some of them were going on for years). Domestic violence is something that does not affect any particular social class, it's even scarier when it happens behind the facade of a "perfect family" - that, it turns out - is very common. We spoke with numerous psychologists and professionals before we wrote the script. I am proud we could work with one of the greatest Bulgarian actors, and we managed to build a story that brings a massage.
UG: You are a huge activist for women and female empowerment and work against violence targeted at women. Why have these issues resonated so deeply with you and what do you hope people learn or become more aware about these issues?
RK: First of all I want people to not be ashamed or embarrassed to speak out. I was attacked and beaten up with no reason when I was 18 on the streets of Sofia, by some drunk guys who got mad that I wasn't answering them. I was walking on the other side of the street with headphones, and was clueless of what they were asking anyway, but I can only imagine. I ran off to a taxi and went home ashamed and speechless. For years I blamed myself that I must've done something to provoke that kind of aggression. In time I realized it was a patriarchy problem. It was the fact that men were used to women obeying them, doesn't matter if it's a random girl on the street or their mothers and wives at home. It's a problem of society we all need to fix.
UG: If you could say one thing to either your younger self or any other women anywhere, about their voice, power, strength...what would it be?
RK: If it was to my 18 year old - would be - always charge your phone and buy a pepper spray. That aside, I'd say to myself to be in peace - I believe in Karma and bad deeds return to you eventually.
UG: What has been a moment in your career that has affected or changed your life, music, or perspective the most. What has been the most surreal movement?
RK: One of the most surreal moments happened when I performed with Bobby McFerrin when I was 17. It was pure magic, I never thought I would experience something similar until I performed with Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra and Ivo Papasov - Ibriama, who is like Jimmy Hendrix on clarinet. This guy i touched by God. Sharing music with these people has made me inspired and grateful for the life I live.
UG: One of our favorite questions, if you could recommend one growing or “Unheard” musician that you think we should listen to who would it be?
RK: There are so many great musicians around the world it's so hard to pick just one. I can think of a few now - but you should definitely check out Choir of Young Believers from Sweden a band from Bulgaria - DAYO.
UG: Thank you so much for taking your time to share your story with us, last quick question, where can and should our readers and followers find your music and updates on you?
RK: They can follow me at FB @ruthkolevamusic instagram @ruthkoleva spotify https://open.spotify.com/artist/7MgXnIqFixrq03WLYJZdi4 and on my website for upcoming dates http://ruthkoleva.com
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Written and Edited by: Hannah Schneider