“Every day’s the same when you’re locked up in a cage/There’s nothing here to do and my wings just feel like glue,” sings London-based indie pop band Ruby Hive in their second single “The Bird Song.” Surprisingly, the song was written long before the coronavirus quarantine and was meant “to introduce [the band’s] political beliefs, touching upon animal captivity and the lack of sympathy for other people’s situation generally,” says band leader Frida Mattsson. But without knowing it, Ruby Hive created a song that feels pertinent to those still in isolation – and as protests have broken out across the US and around the world in the name of racial justice, its message of understanding resonates, too.
“We started writing this song long ago, but perhaps we did not realize the power and truth it carried,” says Mattsson. Though the guitar and percussion give it a poppy vibe, and Mattsson’s background in musical theater evident in the song’s cheerful harmonies, Ruby Hive hopes to remind listeners that millions of people are suffering from the same anxiety, tension, and restlessness. “We hope that it reinforces a sense of community,” Mattsson explains. “It shows that the image of the individual who does not need others is false, and that the bonds we create in times of crisis are in fact stronger than ever.”
The song expresses “the importance of being able to put yourselves in different shoes, whether that is in the shoes of another human, animal, or plant” says Mattsson — an especially relevant reminder as protests continue. She hopes “The Bird Song” will “give comfort, hope, and unite us in these scary days,” she says. “Stay open and willing to learn, and remember if a conversation is hard, it’s probably the one worth having.”
Ruby Hive has a habit of playing with unusual viewpoints. While “The Bird Song” takes the perspective of a bird in a cage, the band’s previous single, the jazzy “You Mix,” takes another unconventional point of view: that of a painting.
“‘You Mix’ is a love story between the artwork and the artist from the artwork’s perspective,” Mattsson explains. “Although it has a different feel than ‘The Bird Song,’ it still keeps with the same values, where playfulness is present. Ruby Hive build a lot upon ‘what if?’ How would it feel to be a canvas falling in love with its artist? Or how would it feel to be a little bird in a cage dreaming to spread its wings and fly away? Our tales come in shapes of common, relatable, sometimes even boring themes, but we always have a twist or two up our sleeves.”
Ruby Hive, whose influences range from Regina Spektor to Sammy Rae and the Friends, has been sharing snippets of works in progress on Instagram. The music’s carefree mood aims to provide an alternative to the “sad, moody tunes about love” and “the world’s impending doom” that Mattsson sees in the indie scene. She also hopes it helps preserve the inner children she believes reside in all. “Adulthood should not make people crack because of the stiff life they are living,” she says. “We should not lose the joy of the little things we can find in our everyday life, because we are always able to look at it from a new angle… We hope to keep encouraging people to care about your neighbor, your neighbor’s cat, and the tree the cat climbs.”
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