Painted red nails open a music box in the center of the screen. Inside a tiny ballerina wearing a polka dot dress spins clockwise to synthetic beats, chimes and trills.
Ruby Empress’ new music video for their single Geist tells the story of the ballerina coming to life in a dream imagined by a woman blowing “O’s” from lipstick stained cigarettes.
Tenor vocals bite through the sizzle.
Two suit-clad cowboys eat popcorn and watch the ballerina perform solo onstage in the shadows and exposure of bright flashing lights.
“It was our first independent movie production,” said Tom Serner (main vocals). “We wouldn’t have been able to pull it off anywhere else except our hometown because we know where everything is and we know everyone.”
They met in [what is the equivalent of] Swedish high school.
“We liked the same bands and had a common interest in skateboarding, like kickflips, double kickflips, ollie *laughs* and board slide,” said Axel Agervi (keyboards, vocals).
While they were both guitarists, Serner was the only one in a band, a successful one.
“I was a Soundcloud sensation,” Serner jokes.
“It was a sensation and I was not in that band, so I called Tom up and I got rid of the other members and we started another band,” said Agervi.
Although his phrasing comes off as somewhat sinister, Agervi simply meant that their friends went corporate.
“They are super nice, they just suck at playing guitar,” said Agervi.
Seems to have worked out perfectly for “Ruby” as the band calls themselves, their chemistry is incomparable, even if their sense of humor forces them to deny it.
When asked if they clicked right away Agervi said no. Then he laughed.
“We clicked right away,” joked Agervi.
They are sarcastic. They want to make you think and keep you guessing. Their Geist music video is not explicit. It is nuanced and open-ended and abstract.
Who is the dreamer and who is being dreamed is certainly open to interpretation, and I think that’s exactly how they need it.
“We wanted to make a surreal movie,” said Agervi. “It was inspired a lot by David Lynch, we love him. There’s no one else in the world like him.”
Their ties to Lynch extend beyond their fanfare for him. Their first show over seven ago took place at the Silencio, Lynch’s club in Paris.
“It was a small tight venue and a nice crowd,” said Serner. “But compared to our gigs today —we have more up-tempo psychedelic songs— our gigs are more intense.”
Their current sound could described as everything from funky electronic to ethereal indie rock, they prefer to characterize it more abstractly.
“We can describe it with a color,” said Serner. “Purple.”
On top of being PURPLE, Ruby, as the band calls themselves, is a combination of their current and childhood influences.
Agervi, who writes all the sweet ballads for the band, grew up listening to Anita Baker and Quincy Jones, while Serner listened to a lot of art rock as well as local Guttenburg bands likes The Knife, Fever Ray and, one of the pairs all time favorites, Little Dragon.
And while Little Dragon’s studio is meer minutes from them, Ruby has yet to collaborate with them.
“We are also scared of them,” Agervi admits. “Because we are fans too.”
“Are you coming to LA anytime soon?” I asked.
“Yes. We must,” They both chimed. “Can you pull some [strings] over there?”
Ruby Empress is releasing three new singles this spring and an album in the summer. You can find them on most streaming platforms and social media.
Words by Jenny Lee.