I sat down to chat with musician Ruby Rose Fox, whose titular song “No Room for Wishing” is performed by Danny towards the climax of the show. Here’s what Ruby had to say about her music, the Occupy movement and her own experience wrestling with revolution.
Phil Berman: Your song, as it falls in NO ROOM FOR WISHING, feels to me like an anthem. How did this song come about?
Ruby Rose Fox: I went to City Feed to get a coffee and a sandwich, and my friend Sam was like, “Everybody’s going to Dewey Square, you’ve got to go!” I didn’t want to go alone, so I waited a little while and then went with some friends. I just felt this thing, like something was happening. I felt really excited and hopeful, but I was in the middle of working for Americorps, so I couldn’t actually be a part of it. I was also really conflicted about it, not sure exactly where it was standing, and what I believed in. If I got involved, I wanted to really think about it and make sure it was something I was actually for. But I was really inspired by the hope of it. I was also super broke: all of the things that Dewey Square was addressing, I was like “finally, I’m not alone in this.”
“There was a sort of anthem-like quality about it, a sort of ‘this is what’s happening now, this is the protest song of my time.'”
I wrote [the song] from afar, and I didn’t even go to Dewey Square to play it until Danny asked me to come. So the only reason it was played ever in Dewey Square is because of Danny. I wrote it on my computer and recorded it on Garageband and then a ton of people heard it on the internet. There was a sort of anthem-like quality about it, a sort of “this is what’s happening now, this is the protest song of my time.” I also felt like if there was going to be a movement, there was going to have to be a lot of art supporting the movement because with any movement there needs to be art to propel it forward. But I was conflicted, and that’s in the song.
Phil Berman: Where do you think the conflict lies in the song? Lyrically? Musically? Emotionally?
Ruby Rose Fox: “There’s no room for wishing in revolution.” You can interpret that as a call to arms and that that was what Dewey Square was doing. But there was a little part of me that felt like we weren’t doing enough. That maybe non-violence wasn’t the answer, and maybe we were just a bunch of entitled kids occupying a space who weren’t willing to put our blood on the line for it because of the culture we grew up in: Because our culture is so safe, and the closest we’ve seen to anything violent is 9/11. I felt there was a lot of wishing involved in it and not as much action. As I say this, I know that the beginning of Dewey Square was all about getting the idea together and coming together and figuring that out. Maybe it was just impatience on my part. Of course it’s not just about them, it’s about me: Am I willing to put my blood on the line for what I think? What I believe in? Does this happen to be what I believe in this month? Am I willing to sell my stuff and live in Dewey Square? Am I willing to get arrested? Am I willing to get hurt? How important is this issue to me? I don’t know . . .
“What I’m interested in as an artist is connecting with other artists, and that’s sort of what my CD release is about, is bringing in my other artist friends to bounce off different work. You could consider the whole Dewey Square event as a piece of art to bounce off of.”
Phil Berman: How would you categorize your music and your influences? Does your music often have a revolutionary bent to it?
Ruby Rose Fox: This was totally a one-off. I don’t consider myself political at all, though I do a lot of social critiquing. It sort of comes out. I don’t mean to be at all political.
As far as influences, I was definitely entrenched in Leonard Cohen at the time I was writing it last October. That was a big part of what was happening in my mind. What he does is turns himself into the prophet: he exalts himself to be some sort of a truth-teller. But it made sense because he often so clashes together the holy and the beautiful with the mess of life. I was sort of feeling that at that time. The voice of an anthem is often from the perspective of the rock, or the prophet, or the truth-teller, so I guess I took on that voice for the song, even though I don’t personally consider myself that at all.
What I’m interested in as an artist is connecting with other artists, and that’s sort of what my CD release is about, is bringing in my other artist friends to bounce off different work. You could consider the whole Dewey Square event as a piece of art to bounce off of. The more dialogue we can have through art the better. I love conversation, but I’m no good at articulating myself through words. When I hear people speak of their experience of Dewey Square, sometimes it’s so eloquent and specific and I feel that they say exactly what they intend. When I open my mouth about it I feel like I’m not articulating myself clearly. This is about me trying to say what I was feeling at that time as accurately as I could. This is the best way I could communicate the feelings I was having and the confusion I was having.