The musicians talk their collaboration with the British brand, and creating some of Netflix’s iconic film soundtracks.
All clothing Ben Sherman
All clothing Ben Sherman
From playing in local pubs in their small industrial hometown of Scunthorpe to writing songs for Netflix and Blumhouse, new-retro duo Ruen Brothers have had an incredible career so far. Drawing on their love of mid-century music and western guitar rhythms, the duo recently dropped their two-song single “Saving me, Saving you/ Alone” earlier this year. Showcasing soaring vocals with a nostalgic feel, the duo’s new single touches upon hope, unity and loneliness in these uncertain times.
But music isn’t the only venture for the two, as the duo have recently collaborated with classic British fashion brand Bed Sherman for their Autumn/Winter line. Shot on 35mm film, two music videos show off the brand’s upcoming looks for the season, debuting stylish gingham jackets, burnt orange jumpers and fitted trousers.
Speaking on the collection and collaboration, the duo said, “We were introduced to Ann Akiri at the brand through our mutual friend and all-round brilliant creative Heather Falconer. Being Brits in the US kinda created a kinship, and from then on we stayed in touch. We’re thrilled it led to us working together. We’ve been fans of the brand since we can remember. The essence of the brand, mod revivalist embodies and embraces a style and culture that was all around us when we were growing up in England, so much so we feel it’s part of us. It’s been super cool to come together and do a campaign with them in NYC, a far-cry from our upbringing, that makes us feel closer to our roots.”
We caught up with the duo and talked the collaboration, style priorities and what we can expect next.
Check out the interview below…
All clothing in video is Ben Sherman.
Hi guys, how has this uncertain time been for you? How has it affected your creativity and music?
There have been ups and downs through the uncertainties of the COVID pandemic for us both. The loss of income from cancelled and upcoming touring opportunities has been disappointing. We love playing live shows; there’s a mental challenge that comes with abruptly halting something that you love, something that you did every month of the year. On the flip side, we’ve had time to seek different opportunities during these uncertain times. We’ve written a lot, recorded new ideas, got creative with imagery and promo, started a Patreon, upped our merchandise, released new music and collaborated with brands such as Ben Sherman. So what we’ve lost out on from not touring, we’ve still gained momentum in creativity and variation.
How did growing up in Scunthorpe influence you guys sonically? Who are your musical heroes?
Our parents had a lot to do with our sonic influences. More so than the town we grew up in which didn’t have a buzzing, well-funded arts scene at all when we were kids. What Scunthorpe did give us was the ability to grow up uninfluenced by big city life, the latest trends and so-on and so-forth passed us by, and we stuck to playing the music we liked, unfazed. It helped us create music that is unique and important to us. I guess we could say that’s the town’s influence. Our musical heroes began with artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Al Green, Johnny Cash and Bobby Womack. They steered our modern taste towards artists such as Orville Peck and Lana Del Rey.
All clothing Ben Sherman
How would you describe your genre?
Alternative – in the true sense of the word, not the music industry sense of the word. Americana Noir or Cinematic.
Hope, unity and loneliness – you guys are very raw when it comes to your song themes – why is this important to you?
We try to be honest. Sometimes the phrasing and rhyme scheme means we’ve gotta wrangle the words around to get the right meaning out within the song’s context. But essentially we write from immediate inspiration – what’s happening around us or what we’ve just watched or heard – so it tends to be pretty direct stuff.
Congrats on your new two-song single ‘Saving Me, Saving You / Alone’ – what were they inspired by? And what makes them slot together?
“Saving Me, Saving You” was actually inspired by a script we were sent for a Netflix Original movie. We read the script and felt inspired to write something that embodied what the characters were going through emotionally in the storyline. We covered a lot of ground with the lyrics, hoping the meaning could be interpreted beyond the realms of the film. We felt that they should speak to many people’s experiences of relationships and life-pressures, and it so happens that the titles are now fitting for the times. We wrote the melodies for both songs with intense highs and lows between sections to create a sense of drama and heightened emotion. The meaning and writing techniques were similar enough to make them an appropriate coupling, hopefully becoming a small cushion amidst the stresses of the virus and social injustices. The true inspiration for “Alone” we may have to save for another time though – a total blush-fest.
And congratulations on your partnership with Ben Sherman – how did it come about? Have you guys been a fan of the brand for a long time?
We were introduced to Ann Akiri at the brand through our mutual friend and all-round brilliant creative Heather Falconer. Being Brits in the US kinda created a kinship, and from then on we stayed in touch. We’re thrilled it led to us working together. We’ve been fans of the brand since we can remember. The essence of the brand, mod revivalist embodies and embraces a style and culture that was all around us when we were growing up in England, so much so we feel it’s part of us. It’s been super cool to come together and do a campaign with them in NYC, a far-cry from our upbringing, that makes us feel closer to our roots. A big thanks to the team at Ben Sherman and our friends Chris Dagostino, Adam Torkel, and Dan Stasser who helped shoot the content.
Do you have a favourite piece from the Autumn/winter 2020 collection? How is the brand a perfect fit for the aesthetic of Ruen Brothers? Henry: The Check Gingham Jacket that I wear in our “Alone” music video is the one for me! The cut is sharp, and the fit is great. It’s a great combo of smart casual. Perfect worn open with a sweater/cardigan or zipped up for when it gets chilly. Rupert : I love the Ivory Textured Roll Neck. Makes me feel like I could be captain of a submarine or something. It’s nice and simple and good for British and NYC cold weather. The mod era was a big influence on us growing up. It’s a big deal in the industrial towns of the North like Scunthorpe, and represents a wave of music born from bands like ‘The Who’ at the turn of the sixties. Not only is it fitting that we’re representing a brand that reps the UK and our upbringing, but it also fits our sound. When people first see us they can second-guess our musical style based on the bands that made a similar look famous. Coupled with our American influences, I guess we’re mod-cowboy, and we couldn’t do it without the British style.
What are your style priorities when on stage performing?
We try and off-match when we go on stage. Whether it’s a shirt and trousers, suits, or polos and bolos, we’ll both wear the same, albeit different colours. Ru loves black, and I’m not too shy to wear pink. Bolo ties made by the Mrs. and high waisted pants with pleats. The socks are where we experiment, any colour goes. We avoid leather and try our best to avoid products that exploit animals and people.
Is fashion and music inextricable for you both?
To a certain extent, yes. When you step out on stage, you’re putting on a show. Fashion helps you put on that show. It represents what you love and drives home your influences and interests to the audience, helping reach people on the same wave-length more directly. In today’s society, you can build a following of people off the back of the way you look. For some artists, image is just as important as the music, if not more important than the music. For us, we simply wear what we like and what we feel goes hand in hand with the music we create. Classic and timeless is what we try to embody, as classic and timeless is what has inspired us the most growing up.
You’ve written original music for a number of Netflix soundtracks – how did they come about? And how do you go about creatively putting them together?
We owe our film sync work to Tracy McKnight. She’s helped put us in front of directors and film houses and helped us make fans there. Cheers Tracy! As far as making the music, that almost feels like the easy part to us. Our first film work was on Logan Marshall-Green’s film Adopt A Highway for Blumhouse starring Ethan Hawke. A beautiful movie if you’ve not seen it by the way! They wanted a Fats Domino style song for a scene, and that was right up our alley – seeing the scene and having a musical reference is usually how we start the creative process. We knocked out “Up In California” overnight, and Tracy messaged saying that both Logan and Ethan loved the song. A few months later along came award-winning Netflix hit The Half of It, a film by Alice Wu. Alice really liked our work. They synced a few already recorded songs from our upcoming second album and then had us write a few songs for scenes they needed music for. Probably the most notable scene being the montage where the characters are reflecting upon a melancholic situ they find themselves in. There’s little dialogue there, just our song and imagery conveying thoughts and emotion. We worked closely with Alice to create something that was heartfelt and emotive. “Break The Rules” was the outcome. We are thankful that Alice liked the song so much that she encouraged us to rework a different more’ acoustic style’ version for the end credits of the film.
What’s next for you and what are you excited about?
We have another release around the corner, “Takin’ It Easy” – Dec 4th, then more new music coming at the top of the year. We are really excited to get our second album out to the people that support us, and the people who are yet to find us. Our second album will be set to drop around March 2021. If COVID doesn’t affect plans again, we’ll be heading out on tour with the wondrous Orville Peck at the end of April / top of May 2021. This is something we’re super excited about, having been fans of Orville for the last 18 months! There are many other things we are excited about, which will be revealed as the months go on.