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RUBY EMPRESS – Escaping flesh prison

Tom Serner and Axel Agervi dives into alchemy, disco and romanticism for their debut album ”Sinbolism”.

Edited by: Stefanie Ravelli Photography: Fredrik Andersson Andersson Styling: Martin Persson / LUNDLUND

In 2017 Tom Serner (lead vocals), Axel Agervi (keys) and Melker Petterson (guitar) released their EP debut Empressionism via Woah Dad and have since then become one of the bigger bands in the growing international new romantic revival scene. Now the Gothenburg raised kids from Sweden are about to release their debut album Sinbolism (out Sep 6, 2019) – an empire that includes dark electro disco, stripped-down synths and hazy boogie trips. All tracks are written, produced and mixed by Ruby Empress themselves.

The name Ruby Empress comes from Larry Clarks movie Kids, and more specific Rosario Dawson’s character Harmony Korine. Why?

— We’ve been playing together since we were kids. We found each other in a skatepark through a shared love for alchemy, disco, ancient melodies, psyche, eerie choirs, strings, romanticism, heavy guitars, heavy ballads and mysterious lyrics. It was a love at first sight kind of thing. Ruby Empress is a collage of things we love. Harmony Korinne and Larry Clark have a special place there, alongside many other pioneers, past and present. The Empress is our muse. She leads us, often towards some kind of ­unexpected edge.

You have a lot of culture references in your work, like the tv-series “Twin Peaks” (David Lynch), the filmmaker Gaspar Noé, the author Aldous Huxley, and the character Dorian Grey (Oscar Wilde) to name a few. How would you describe your debut album “Sinbolism”?

— Genreless is our taste. It’s about collecting the sounds you love. We stay open, it can be anything really. It’s like Henri Matisse said: ’There are always flowers for those who want to see them’. Some bands that have made this summer special are: The Durutti Column, Cocteau Twins and Strawberry Switchblade. It’s all in our Spotify playlist Sin-gularity.

You’ve done everything yourself, tell us about the process making this album.

— The last EP was all about impressionism, so we started off diving naively into symbolism to see what sort of moods that would generate. Then we made haste slowly to get the album foundations down. It’s important to create a space within where you can express yourself. If you get the foundations right, you can do what you want without overthinking things. It feels like we’ve grown as people and producers over the time of making “Sinbolism”.

The stripped-down grunge track “See No Evil” is also the name of a slasher movie. Do you like horror fiction?

— Oh, we haven’t seen that one. We love horror, Nobuhiko Ôbayashis “Hausu” is a favorite. We’re currently looking for the right person to make something similar to honor that movie.

How do you want your music to feel?

— Like an escape from flesh prison. In the end, we just want to help people get out of their heads for a while and have a fabulous time.

After the Me Too movement — what would you say has changed and what’s it like to be a man today?

— The world needs diversity, and unity in diversity. We’re inspired by people who dare to be themselves and by doing so providing validation for a way of being. It has to be real, not only a PR strategy. It’s easy to tell the difference.

What’s freedom to you?

— Shamelessness.

What do you want for the future?

— We want world peace and a healthy degree of solitude.

Hairstylist: Jakob Kajrup / Agentbauer. Make up artist: Elvira Brandt. Production: Douglas Jakobson. Stylist Assistant: Elca Heinebäck. Casting: Ohlogy

Ruby Express will perform at Scandinavian MAN Live! in Stockholm August 28. Here’s how you can get on the list.