Indie-Folk Newcomer Katie Ruvane Shares Stunning Acoustic Song 'Without Her': Exclusive

Luke Rogers

Katie Ruvane

In many ways, 2017 was like a dream for singer-songwriter Katie Ruvane.

En route to graduating Nashville's Belmont University, the New Jersey native had a wealth of live experience under her belt and was poised to release an excellent debut album. None of it came easy; Ruvane financed The Lines by playing house shows up and down the east coast and handling booking and management on her own, before releasing the debut LP in three segments across 2018.

"I was moving a thousand miles a minute, creating my first record and touring for the first time," Ruvane tells Billboard. "Looking back on it now, it’s insane how many things were going my way." The young artist was plotting her next move when personal demons and an unforgiving industry threatened to derail her.

"Personal things that I wrote alone in my bedroom as a kind of therapy were suddenly out and available to anyone," she says. "I compared myself to my peers and feared their rejection; I worried about stats and numbers and what those metrics might mean about my value and worth as an artist. The self-judgement was paralyzing. I started thinking heavier thoughts and had a harder time shaking them off. Over time those thoughts came in droves -- more often, more intrusively. It was the loneliest I had ever felt, and I was both furious and ashamed that it had gotten so bad."

As creating new music became increasingly difficult, the tides finally turned during a session with her friend Zach Hughes. Ruvane presented the producer with an intensely personal song she never intended to release; that song became the acoustic powerhouse "Without Her," which she's premiering today (Feb. 27) as her first new song since her debut.

Reminiscent of alt-folk gut-punchers like Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, "Without Her" is pure catharsis. With each guitar stroke and percussive swell, Ruvane fends off the nagging voice in her head with growing defiance (and a sample of a real-life voicemail from her dad), before finally putting it to bed in the closing lines.

Find "Without Her" below, along with a recent conversation with Ruvane.

"Without Her" is your first new song since your 2018 debut album. What inspired it?

One day in November [2018] when I was feeling especially heavy, I sat down at my kitchen table and wrote “Without Her,” with every intention to keep it to myself. But two months later I decided that I liked the melody a little too much and I wanted to show it to my friend and collaborator, Zach Hughes. Unintentionally, sharing this song forced me to face myself and my situation. He couldn’t help asking what the song was about and I couldn’t act like I was fine anymore. I started performing “Without Her” at small shows and people latched onto it, pulling me aside afterwards to share their own struggles with mental health. It took a little while but I found a therapist -- which was not easy or inexpensive, thank you America -- and spent 2019 untangling a lot of anxiety and depression. My goal was to get to a place where I could record and give “Without Her” back to the people who shared those vulnerable stories with me. To my family, friends and total strangers who helped me feel less alone during a really scary time. I’m so proud and grateful to finally be in that place now.

What are you listening to these days? How did it shape "Without Her"?

I’ve been getting really in to the narrative songwriting styles of Andy Shauf and Slaughter Beach, Dog, who invent characters and plot lines to write outside of their own experiences. I think sometimes you end up uncovering the most personal stuff that way. I’m definitely inspired by the powerful vulnerability in the current indie scene, from artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Soccer Mommy and Julia Jacklin. My most recent obsession is Great Grandpa -- their album Four of Arrows might be the greatest thing to come out of 2019. I’m lucky as hell to be coming up in a time of such good music.

Now that you've gotten such a personal song off your chest, what are your future plans?

New music! I’m in the middle of recording several new songs that are quite different from my previous releases. I’m experimenting with a heavier, rawer sound that I’m pretty stoked on. Those tunes will be released throughout this year, as a series of singles. A string of mini-tours are in the works right now, which will be announced later this spring. I want to play wherever people want to have me, so I’ll be accepting house show requests through my website again! My favorite venues have often been living rooms. Anyone interested can submit a request form under the "shows" tab on my website.

Find Katie Ruvane's upcoming tour dates below.

March 12: Boston, Mass. (SoFar Sounds)
March 13: Boston, Mass. (City Winery)
March 26: Nashville, Tenn. (The East Room)
March 27: Franklin, Tenn. (Related Artists)
April 17: New York, NY (SoFar Sounds)


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