Nuha Ruby Ra is a self-proclaimed avant-punk queen who warrants your attention. Her hypnotic blend of Egyptian and British musical influences has garnered comparisons to the likes of Ian Dury and Patti Smith and her debut EP, which began as a bedroom project before Nuha developed the tracks in the actual vintage synth cave of the Psychedelic Furs, is due for release on March 5th.
“When I was growing up there was definitely a mixed bag of musical influences,” mentions Nuha. “I had parts of growing up in Cairo and other parts in the UK, so some Egyptian musicians like Abdel Halim Hafez and also Michael Jackson were pretty big for me when I was young. I also loved Take That… (make sure you say when I was twelve).” Thankfully, her music taste broadened as she grew older with Julian Cope and ‘jazz poet’ Jack Kerouac now adorning her Spotify artist playlists.
When it comes to her own music, Nuha is an artist who defies the pigeon-holing ritual of genre categorisation. She tells us that because of this, she decided to coin her own style: “So much music has been made now that it’s impossible to not be influenced by a multitude of things. Someone once asked me to put my music into a genre and I was thinking there wasn’t a particular genre that my music could totally lie within. So as a fun thing I just kind of coined the term avant-punk and now that’s the genre I’m in – which I made up myself (laughs).”
From the enticing opening lyrics of ‘Cruel’ where Nuha demands to be heard, her EP offers both a deeply sonic and lyrical journey. “I think my primary focus when making music is the atmosphere that’s created in a song,” Nuha mentions, and with three instrumental tracks featured on the EP, it’s this ambient, textural focus that’s most captivating. “’Run Run’ is my favourite full track off the EP. It’s a lot more of a soundtrack I would say; I see it acting as like a scene or part in a film. I think if you decide that something’s gonna be over five minutes long then you should just allow yourself to go wild with the composition.”
Autobiographical experiences are also shared in tracks like ‘Sparky’ where domineering sexual experiences are delivered through Nuha’s enchanting spoken-word style. Recently, we’ve seen artists like Lily Allen designing her own range of vibrators, and Nuha agrees that sexual experiences and pleasure have become less of a taboo topic through music in recent years: “I think there’s definitely a lot more freedom for people to express themselves without censorship in what they write through sexual experiences now. I don’t think ‘Sparky’ is particularly shocking, but it’s honest, from a personal perspective of a particular situation.”
With her debut album in what Nuha describes as its “inception” stages, the next musical chapter of Nuha Ruby Ra is already lying in waiting. Her only wish for this year (apart from Covid to be over and done with) is something felt by countless musicians right now – to be able to play live. “I’d really love to play live shows again to full rooms where everyone’s tightly packed together and sweaty and I can go amongst everyone and touch people again. Just playing live. It’d be really nice to play live.”
Hopefully these nostalgic scenes can be felt again sooner rather than later. In the meantime, Nuha Ruby Ra is set to begin her trailblazing quest of what may be her breakout year – dismiss her at your peril.
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Nuha Ruby Ra will release her debut EP on March 5th.
Words: Jamie Wilde
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