Graham Reid | | 1 min read
When Ruby Solly was in Victoria University's jazz school, she studied cello.
“Yeah. Superfruity, I know. And there was this idea that I'd never get any work. It was constantly said that if I was lucky, I might get a job on a cruise ship.
“I heard that. A lot.
“But there aren't many cellists around who can play without scores, and also I'd played in metal bands, punk bands, reggae bands… a bit of everything which meant that I ended up with quite a wide vocabulary on the instrument.
“Cello was the bulk of my session work during that [university] time and afterwards.
“I think there are two [such cellists] in Wellington, if it's not me, it's Charley Davenport.
“So it worked out well,” she laughs.
Solly (Kai Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, and who also has Jewish whakapapa) grew up around the Central Plateau in Whakapapa Village, Raurimu, Tūrangi (where she learned cello in nearby Taupō) and Rotorua.
She accumulated considerable musical knowledge (guitar, vocals, cello, taonga pūoro) but never compartmentalised them.
With her remarkable debut album Pōneke – where Solly effortlessly weaves ambient sounds and taonga pūoro recorded at various sites around Wellington, with cello parts added in her modest home studio – the threads of her various music studies interlock.
And she has expanded the work with her related poetry, use of te reo Māori and art.
“Until Pōneke, I felt I would do something as part of everyone else's whole. I've done that with cello on a lot of different recordings and live shows, or taonga pūoro on somebody's soundtrack. But it had never been like, 'this is all mine, I've made all the decisions . . .
To read the rest of this story go to The Big Idea here.
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Ruby Solly's Pōneke album is reviewed at Elsewhere here.