We had the good fortune of connecting with Ruth Nichols (ruthtrumpets/mahealane) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ruth, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Music has always been a cornerstone in my foundation as a human. I look to the inspiration it has given me over the years, The personal solace and enjoyment alone have made creating music, performing and helping others with their musical dreams something I find worthy of dedicating ones life to. All in all I hope that through whatever I spend my time on as a creative will continue to show the human capacity for joy, love, tolerance, acceptance, overcoming traumas and finding a real purpose. One cannot really quantify how important a song or work of art can affect ones mental state – in these times alone, maybe in pain, feeling misunderstood and unable to move on music can bring life in the form of love, in the form of feeling understood and through community. These moments all matter; how else can our souls find breath?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Perhaps the key to what sets me apart is that I can operate in the artist space and business space. Perhaps the key is that though I am a highly trained musician I like to go into my creative space and use whatever I can create form or no form. I can be free flying at the Jazz Cafe in Burning Man, recording horn lines at home or performing a Classical piece in a concert hall. The music itself I created, co produced and took a few years to work through and realize. My songs while being vocal, always incorporate elements of one or all of the horns I play (trumpet, flugel, french horn). My influence from Classical and Jazz is undeniable, I’ve been a student of music my whole life. In the Jazz world I’ve always been the girl trumpeter in the world of men and the sexism that comes with those ingrained patriarchal ideals. I worked had in the freelance circuits in various cities before coming to Los Angeles. I led bands, had residencies and really led a life supported by music, but not MY music. Moving to Los Angeles marked that time for me and I am truly tear filled to even just sit and rehearse songs I wrote and created! It’s an amazing feeling. I want people to appreciate the detail, (like a specially curated scene in a movie), but also just FEEL, relax and enjoy the music they’re hearing. My song “Hopeful Romantic” was inspired by a year at Burning Man, the producer Michael Blum and I had a fun time creating a cool, but blurry landscape for the song (check out the bass line in the post chorus). In “Real” producer Adam Rochelle and I went from a slow intro to latin groove song to incorporating feel and time changes inspired by a random drum groove he created to fit a tempo I was feeling in my body (76bpm is that magic tempo for me). In my latest song “Water” Adam went through countless versions and voice memos with me to copy the exact piano voicings I had played over what became the verse piano parts. That song was born of my constant lack of a bubble (I am very progressive, but I have lots of conservative, independent family members). It is important to hold loved ones in a view of humanity otherwise things just become rotten and irreparable.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First I would map out the taco truck experience – Ave 26, LEO’s, Taco ladies in Ktown (by the Ralphs). Pre-quarantine I would say Monday we go to super-soul Monday in Hollywood, it’s a great funk, jam, dance experience. Tuesday, I’d say we get Korean BBQ for a late lunch then hit up the speak easy Lock N’ Key for a dope band I sit in with on trumpet, led by my friend Nate Taitano. After that across the street to the taco ladies by Ralph’s on 3rd for fresh, beautiful mulitas and tacos. The beach and hikes are always a favorite of people, but I like being in the studio or playing or supporting music so if someone really wanted to enjoy the outdoors I like the Greystone Mansion hang, Franklin Canyon, Malibu for either hiking or beaches and Elysian Park. Generally, I would see what’s happening at the Blue Whale that week for some great Jazz acts, Silver Lake for some weekend dancing and the The San Fernando (the bar) to hang with friends and jam, which they were doing every Tuesday before quarantine. DTLA warehouse parties and more. It’s hard to imagine how things used to be only a year ago.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my beautiful and wonderful sister, Heidi for her never-failing 100% support of me and her source of a lifelong friendship. My parents were always very encouraging, as was my community growing up in my playing trumpet and singing. I’d also love to thank my “work husband” Evan Griffith for his type A personality, amazing work ethic and knowledge of the music industry, both music degrees I earned, did not teach me what he has taught me about the music industry in the 2+ years we’ve been running Fire Tower Entertainment. Lastly, to my partner Adam Rochelle, his skills as a musician, producer and overall human have created a safe space for me to create my art in and I am so grateful to him for that!
Instagram: @ruthtrumpets or @mahealane
All photos by myself except for pic of me singing in gold dress – Photo credit: Ojo De Loba