Leading up until the Upstream Music Fest + Summit, KEXP will be featuring a new local artist from the lineup with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. Today’s post features Seattle indie rocker Ruler, performing Saturday, May 13 on the Barsuk stage.
If you've been around the Seattle music scene long enough, you've almost surely seen or heard Matt Batey perform. Whether he's playing in Cataldo or doing harmonies for artists like Rocky Votolato, Batey is always popping up around town. However, over the years Batey began performing his own solo material under the moniker Ruler. His vibrant, catchy pop-rock tracks are gems within themselves and it's easy to hear why his contemporaries utilize him so much as a collaborator. We caught up with Batey to dig more into the project's origins and how he writes such great hooks.Would you consider Ruler to be a solo project or a formal band? Who joins you for your live sets?
I have been very lucky to be joined by some of the best musicians in Seattle. I try to have a full band whenever I can get some of these people to contribute their time and talent to the project. For Upstream, I will be joined by Aaron Benson on Drums, Eric Anderson on Keys, and Stephen Baldock on Bass.
Consistently, your songs are full of super infectious hooks both in the guitar and vocal melodies. Do you have a background in pop music? Is melody something you prioritize while you’re writing?
When I write music or listen to it, I am looking for a feeling of being lifted up by the experience. The most effective things I've found to give me that feeling are melodic hooks and rhythmic momentum.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you initially chose the name Ruler to help you exude confidence whereas you’re often “worrisome or insecure”. After playing under the moniker for a few years now, do you feel like the band and name have helped you accomplish that?
Uh, no, not really, ha ha.
You’ve been somewhat of a utility player for local artists, playing as member Cataldo and providing harmonies for Rocky Votolato. How has the tightness of the music community in Seattle helped you in your own pursuits?
All of my friends are people I've met through various music projects. It's great to be surrounded by not only people you consider good buddies, but people who you share a passionate interest with, and who you can trust creatively.
I noticed a lot of your music is hard to track down online at the moment. Are you working on something? A debut album, perhaps?
Yes, I've been working on the first record for quite a while. It's called Winning Star Champion and it will be super easy to find online as soon as I can manage to get the damn thing out.
You’re playing the Barsuk stage at Upstream this year. What are some of your favorite Barsuk releases?
Barsuk is the home of my favorite band of all time, Nada Surf. My favorite recent releases would be Charly Bliss, Chris Staples, David Bazan, and Laura Gibson.
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