whose strings vi: greta ruth
yes, this is me, the founder of tsii! I am a singer/songwriter & started tsii as a way to recycle my own guitar strings, so the first tsii pieces featured my strings. now I am using my own strings again for the greta collection. i had another whose strings artist, roya ziba, ask me a few questions for this post.
roya: Greta, you are the founder of TSII and you yourself are a singer/songwriter, about to release your single "Sweet Pace." Can you tell us about your guitar that once held the strings that I now proudly own a bit of in the form of earrings & a necklace?
greta: for the past 10 years or so I've played my blueridge 40ce. when i found it, i had been looking for a new acoustic guitar and it was the first one i tried at a guitar shop in minneapolis. i went to several more shops and tried dozens of other guitars, but somehow nothing compared. technically it's nothing special, but it's magic to me and I am still in love with this guitar.
this summer i got a new guitar at an estate sale in minneapolis. it's a 1959 gibson lgo & i am loving exploring new sounds on it. it's a short scale, almost like a parlor guitar, so it is very portable and it has a really nice warm tone that's inspiring a new direction for me musically. I haven't made any jewelry with strings from this guitar yet.
roya: Where do you like writing your music?
greta: i'll write almost anywhere, but i generally need to be alone to write. that can be flexible — a quiet room, somewhere outside, bathrooms always sound nice... but being alone is the important thing for me, unless i am specifically collaborating with someone. i've moved around a lot of the past several years and I've noticed that whenever i get to a new place where i'll be spending a chunk of time, i usually write something new within the first couple weeks of being there. but i do need to be in a reflective, solitary space to explore that inspiration.
roya: Can you share with us some of your daily rituals that are important to you?
greta: when i'm being good, when i'm in a space of playing a lot of music, i start with a full body warm up, a little yoga, and then integrate vocal warm ups with movement before moving into focusing on my voice. then i'll do whatever intuitively feels right to warm up fully for that day.
i journal regularly. i love going for walks in nature and around neighborhoods. in general, acknowledging the importance and meaning of little moments and making space for healthy routine keeps me grounded.
roya: We met by singing in a Persian ensemble together. this experience connected our shared interest and relationship to poetry in music. Can you discuss the influence of poets and poetry in your compositions?
greta: you and i first connected when you told me that you think of your music as sound poems, and i told you that i tend to think of my songs as poems.
lyrics are what originally drew me to music and songwriting. i think the idea of songs as poems began when i realized that my process emphasized music as making space for words, rather than as words fitting in to set musical structures. there is a lot of beautiful music around the world that works this way, a lot of vocal folk music, and i love learning about how other writers and musicians think about this connection.
the writers that directly influenced the body of work that i have right now are virginia woolf, anais nin, and more recently, jane austen.
roya: I loved hearing about your other world music experience, can you talk a bit about that?
greta: yes! i have had the opportunity to study a lot of world music, including persian, a bit of north indian classical, balkan vocal, and indonesian, with amazing and insightful masters of their craft.
i am very drawn to music from other countries because so many cultures inherently connect music and art to spirituality. music is a spiritual practice, and it is so warming to acknowledge that connection with others.
roya: i remember you sharing that your grandma was a guitarist. Did that inspire you to pick up the guitar?
greta: i don't think i actually knew that she had ever played guitar until after i had started playing (which was when I was 13 or so years old). she was a war refugee from yugoslavia, so she wasn't able to bring much to the u.s. and she didn't get any new guitars during her time here. but since then she's told me that she used to have hundreds of songs memorized, which she would play and sing with her friends, mostly german folk songs and church songs. i'm so grateful that because of what she went through, leaving her home and coming to this country, i am able to have guitars and play and write music. i can't take for granted what my grandparents did to make my life possible, directly and indirectly, which helps me to commit in bigger ways to following my heart.
roya: Tell us about your new single "Sweet Pace." when is it coming out, and where will it be available?
greta: "sweet pace" is a song i wrote last summer in southern california when it was 114 degrees everyday and i felt like my life was really stuck in that heat. it's a song about absence, longing, & moving slowly. to me it is thickly romantic, in a lonely and naive way.
i just filmed a music video for "sweet pace." my dad is a film photographer and captured my concepts for the song on super 8 film. i made my own dress for this, and went all out, within a super-small budget, to create a visual counterpart to how the song feels to me. i was able to play with personal elements and create my own fantasy world. we shot it at minnehaha creek, near where i grew up in minnesota. this creek has a lot of meaning and history for me.
we filmed with the intention of editing-in-camera, meaning when you eventually have the digital version you don't need to move any shots around or change anything. i loved this idea because that is how i like to record, and that is also how i write songs: from beginning to end. we ended up having to break from this slightly, but the digital editing will be minimal.
I'm currently waiting for both the film to be digitized, and the song to be mastered, so the video should be out sometime this fall!
roya: What do you have planned next?
greta: after "sweet pace" comes out, I will be releasing an ep called the quiet while, which i recorded at the same time as "sweet pace."
i also have plans for a second ep or an album, depending on what feels right when the time comes. i already know the title of this release, but I will save that for another moment!
i'm also interested in working on more videos for the songs on the quiet while, and exploring how that medium can bring people inside of the music & poetry. i find video to be a more collaborative process, and i love the opportunity to bring other creative minds together to expand the vision.
~ check out the new greta collection below & stay tuned for more artist updates & additions to the collection ~
photos from the "sweet pace" set by elena stanton