We had the good fortune of connecting with Lara Ruggles and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lara, how do you think about risk?
I think that my perception of what’s risky is actually kind of skewed after years of going on tour and finding ways to scrape through in tricky situations when things have gone off the rails, although when I look back at some of the tours I’ve been on now, it seems kind of unbelievable to me that I went on some of them at all. I’d leave with just enough money in my bank account to make it to the first couple of gigs, and I just had to have faith that somehow my band and I would do well enough to keep making it to the next city, and the next. Looking back on it, it seems like I did it all pretty nonchalantly, although I’m pretty sure I was terrified every time – there was a real possibility that if my car broke down or we didn’t make enough money at a show to pay for gas to get to the next city, my band and I would be stranded hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. And there were times those things did happen, and we were always miraculously lucky that someone, whether it was a family member or a generous stranger, always showed up to get us unstuck. Now, there are things I do without thinking about it that other people might consider risky – asking for money or favors from other people, trying to fix things like my car myself first, getting on calls with legislators and explaining what my industry needs from them, putting a project into action before I have a complete plan and trusting that I can figure out the details as I go. I think getting through the scrapes I’ve gotten myself into as a musician on the road has made me someone who’s quicker to jump into action, who doesn’t need to have a clear vision of how every step of a process will play out in order to know it can have a successful result, and someone who stays calm and keeps looking for the way through to the other side in a crisis. I can run on adrenaline for a very long time if I need to, which I need to watch out for, because it’s not always a healthy thing, but it has served me well in a whole host of weird situations. 

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I make moody, slow-build electro-pop songs. I loop vocals live to build multiple layers of harmony, and I play keys. I’m releasing a new album in April 2021 that took four years to make – and I just released the first single the week before Thanksgiving. That’s something I’m proud of right now! Was it easy? HAHAHAHAHAHA. My god, no. And I’m not sure that I’ve ever overcome the logistical/financial/emotional challenges, or that I ever will – but I’m in a place where I finally feel at peace with it – it being that it’s almost impossible to be a “successful” artist or creative in a capitalist society like ours if you define success as being able to create your art full-time, and not having a need to work other jobs or even create art to others’ specifications in order to pay the bills. I’ve had to do a lot of re-framing for myself around what success is and how much I can reasonably expect from myself. I can’t change the way an entire society functions singlehandedly, and in order to overcome obstacles to success like album sales being replaced by the tiniest streaming royalties, or the ask capitalism makes of artists to produce art as a commodity according to what’s popular in the current moment, it sometimes feels like that is what I’m expecting of myself. But that’s not a fair expectation. So then do I stop making music? No. I have to make it for myself first, and the satisfaction has to come from the process of creating itself, and not from what happens once the creation is available out in the world. Once I started thinking that way I was able to open myself up to other opportunities and other kinds of success, and I’m lucky to be in a position now where I really love what I’m doing, both in my “day job” at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, as well as in my creative world. That being said, it’s a really tough time right now for musicians and music venues, because of the way COVID has stopped tours and live events in their tracks, so if everyone reading this is able to go support one independent musician on a platform like Patreon, and sign the letter at saveourstages.com asking their representatives to support the Save Our Stages Act in Congress so that independent venues will receive the aid they need to survive this, your voice and your support can make a really big difference right now!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ok, so things are back to “normal” and people are flying on airplanes again without thinking twice and concerts are happening and my best friend is here, and we’ll pretend that she hasn’t been here twenty times before and that she’s never been to any of the cool places. I would take her to the Desert Museum. I would take her hiking out to Seven Falls or on part of the Arizona Trail, or maybe in Madera Canyon. We’d go to a show at 191 Toole. Maybe I’d show her around the new SAACA Arts space in the Tucson Mall. We’d have brunch on the patio at the Hotel Congress, and we’d go get a cocktail at Sidecar. We’d have vegan Mexican food at Tumerico, or veggie burgers at Beaut Burger, and a beer at Westbound. We’d probably sit and write for a while at Exo Coffee, and have lunch at Welcome Diner. I MIGHT be able to convince her to sing karaoke at the Best Western Royal Sun. And then, because we’ve been friends since we were horse-crazy 8-year-olds, and neither of us ever got over the horse bug, I’d take her up Bear Canyon Road to see my mare and we’d go for a trail ride or two in the Sabino Creek wash.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Can I dedicate it to more than one person or group? The Tucson Music Biz Shoptalk group has been a really wonderful resource and source of community for me since I moved back to Arizona. Everyone who supports me and my music on Patreon has played a huge role in keeping me going and encouraging me to keep creating music. Jed Baker, who started the Sonoran Beat Collective, has played a huge role in connecting me to my favorite job and some of my closest collaborators, and pushed me to create when I was feeling out of ideas. And there have been several incredible fans who have stepped up to support me and keep me going in moments where I really felt like the most sensible choice would be to give up – one fan sent me his tax return one April with a note that said, “I believe”, and he’s continued to send me his tax return every year since. He has singlehandedly reminded me that I’m not the only one who cares about my music, that I’m not just sending it out into a void to be forgotten, but creating it for people like him who are moved and impacted by it. He definitely deserves a shout-out. Hey Steve B – this is for you.

Website: www.sharkkheartt.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sharkkheartt
Twitter: www.twitter.com/lararuggles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sharkkheartt
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/lararuggles-sharkkheartt
Other: www.patreon.com/sharkkheartt

Image Credits
Jeff Sprytime Kevin Hainline Emily Truman Mike Tallman Annie Schugart

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