NYC singer/songwriter Nomi Ruiz is a force to be reckoned with. She stormed upon the scene as a vocalist for Hercules and Love Affair, went on to make waves with her own band: Jessica 6, and continues to make music as a solo artist with both live and DJ performances. This year, Seattle PrideFest welcomes her as a headliner on the Seattle Center Main Stage (Sunday), and The Wildrose will feature her as part of the Saturday night lineup of their infamous annual Pride block party. Seattle is going to get a healthy dose of this amazing queer artist!
PrideFest Deputy Director and Seattle Gay Scene contributor, LA Kendall, had a chance to sync with Ms. Ruiz on coming out, Patricia Field, her musical evolution, and how she deals with labels like “The Trans Super Star of Tomorrow”…..
LA Kendall: What is your hometown? Where was the magic born?
Nomi Ruiz: Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY
LAK: How did growing up there influence you as an artist?
NR: I grew up with music blasting everywhere, from cars and boom boxes in the street and house parties in my apartment building. They were always playing freestyle, dance hall and hip hop so that was engraved in me from a young age.
LAK: What was your “Coming Out” Experience like?
NR: I’ve always lived my Truth. I don’t remember ever living life feeling as if I was holding onto a secret that had to be revealed. I definitely evolved into my Truth the more I explored and discovered who I was becoming. My environment evolved with me. There were conversations that happened with important people in my life as we were all wrapping our heads around it and how we were going to protect each other.
LAK: I was reading an article about you awhile back and didn’t realize you had a history with Patricia Field (famed NYC costume/fashion designer/stylist best known for “Sex & The City” and “The Devil Wears Prada”) How did that come about?
NR: I was looking for a place to work where I felt at home. I was working at The Gap at the time and was offered a higher position when I suddenly said “omg I can’t take working at The Gap…seriously!” I quit and went walking around the city for help wanted signs. I saw one there and felt at home as soon as I walked in. They hired me on the spot. Pats was one of the places that really supported artists and outcasts. Those who felt rejected by society and those who maybe couldn’t find work because of who they were or how they looked. We were a family. It was a beautiful time in my life.
LAK: That is an amazing upgrade! Hot Topic to Patricia Field! My first awareness of you was when I heard “You Belong” from Hercules and Love Affair. How did you get connected to that project?
NR: I was friends with Anohni and she was working with Andy on the record. She was supposed to sing “You Belong” but she didn’t want to and thought I would be perfect.
LAK: After that you were performing as Jessica 6, right? What brought that evolution about?
NR: I quit Hercules and Love Affair after a year of touring. I knew I wanted to continue performing while writing my own songs so I teamed up with some of the musicians from the Hercules tour who were also working on dance music outside of HALA and we created Jessica 6. It really took off. Was a great lesson in standing up for what you believe in.
LAK: ….and now you are rollin’ solo! What is that like after the last two experiences? Or have you always done solo work in between projects?
NR: I’ve always worked as a solo artist. My first solo album was called “Lost In Lust” and came out in 2005. I’ve released two solo mix tape projects as well called Borough Gypsy. I’m excited to get back to the music that originally inspired me. Back to the root of my soul.
LAK: This is quite a few years back, but I remember seeing an interview that you did where they hailed you as “The Trans Superstar of Tomorrow” or something like that. How do you handle being a high profile member of the Trans community that garners the spotlight?
Is it empowering? Exhausting? Inspiring? Overwhelming? All of the above?
NR: It’s definitely been a bit of everything. I had to protect myself and my story for a while in order to focus on my craft and prove myself as a vocalist, songwriter and performer. I’m finally at a place now where I can stand up and address trans issues on my terms. When you’re a new artist the media always wants to have control of your dialogue. I finally feel past that hurdle and even more empowered than before.
LAK: What’s up next for Nomi? Anything exciting in the works you’d like to share with our readers?
NR: I’m releasing lots of new music and I’m also getting involved with film. I’m going to be guest starring on the new Sons Of Anarchy spinoff called Mayans M.C. and starred in a feature film which is in post production. I’m also developing my own web series which is based on my podcast “Allegedly NYC”.
LAK: You will be performing twice while here in Seattle for Pride. Once the Saturday night of Pride weekend for The Wildrose Block Party – and then again the next day at Seattle PrideFest Main Stage. What can we expect?
NR: So excited! I’m gonna bring all of my most empowering songs. I want people to feel liberated when I perform. I always want it to be a celebration of having survived all we’ve endured and looking into the beauty of what’s ahead.
LAK: Can’t wait!
See Nomi Ruiz LIVE:
Saturday 6/23 @ The Wildrose Pride Block Party (Link to: https://www.facebook.com/events/171045173536387/)
Sunday 6/24 @ PrideFest Seattle Center Main Stage (Link to: https://www.facebook.com/events/1819185648126734/)