Ruth B is the epitome of a viral success story.
The 20-year-old (born Ruth Berhe) seemingly emerged out of nowhere with “Lost Boy,” a twinkling ode to Peter Pan, that’s earned her a Vine following of more than 2 million who are listening in, six seconds at a time. Some 84,000 Vine likes later, Ruth decided it was time to broadcast a full version after teasing seconds-long clips from her account, and from behind her Yamaha keyboard, she posted “Lost Boy” in its entirety on YouTube. She woke the next morning to more than 100,000 views.
The Edmonton native signed with Columbia Records in July 2015 and released her first EP, aptly titled “The Intro,” in November. She chats with us from New York, where she’s planning a series of live performances and her upcoming full-length release.
Viva la Vine
Ruth decided to try out Vine on a whim, and found herself creatively challenged by the task of capturing an audience in the blink of an eye. “It’s really challenging, but I owe a lot of why I’m so creative to [Vine],” she says. “You only get six seconds, and I made a point that I didn’t want to get scrolled past. I wanted someone to hear my voice, and click on my page. Having only six seconds is hard, but it forces you to be as creative as possible.”
She also encourages music lovers to not turn their noses up at the fleeting nature of Vine, citing the success of Shawn Mendes (whose “Stitches” just hit the top of Billboard’s Adult Pop chart) and 16-year-old Rachel Bobbit and her 120 million loops on the platform. Granted, that’s just a fraction of what Berhe boasts (she’s in the neighborhood of 411 million), but it’s close. “Vine’s a great place to find music,” says Ruth. “You just have to take the time to look.”
Netflix, plenty of chill
“Lost Boy” was inspired by an episode of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” which Ruth had been watching when the song’s concept came to her. “Writing is such a prominent part of my life, but I had never put singing and writing together,” she recalls. “But with [‘Lost Boy’], it was one of those types of things that I just needed to get it out .”
Ruth is a big consumer of culture, especially literature, and says she’s constantly inspired by new narratives in her songwriting process. Currently, she’s reading “Will Grayson, Will Grayson,” by John Green and David Levithan. “I love all [Green's] books,” she adds. “I’m loving it so far.”
Sealing the deal
Ruth's been signed with Columbia since last summer, but the recording artist knows the best is yet to come. “A full album is in the future, and definitely some live shows,” she says. But she’s still taking her reality one day at a time.
“I signed my record deal in New York. I flew out and met the whole team, and that was a great day. It was a process to do so, but I thought you just woke up one day, and it was like, ‘Now you’re signed!’ But no, that’s not how it is. Still, it was really validating for me, like I knew I was being taken seriously.”