Ruby Singh – A sound innovator on Turtle Island

Photo courtesy of puSh Festival

Ruby Singh expresses himself through music, visual art and poetry, while also advocating for social justice issues using his artistic endeavors as the medium. His upcoming show, Vox.Infold, put on by the PuSh Festival, will be performed at the Lobe Studio from Jan. 20–30.

Singh has presented his work across Turtle Island and around the world, in India, Germany and the U.K. In Vox.Infold, he will be showcasing new technology, such as 4DSOUND technology and vibroacoustic floor panels, to launch the audience into another dimension.

Cultural beginnings

The year of his birth, Singh’s family took a monumental step: they immigrated to Turtle Island. Singh was immersed in his rich Punjabi and Sikhi culture throughout his upbringing, which significantly influenced his attraction to the arts.

“[My] migrant family had large influences on my art – from music, dance and poetry to identity and politics,” he says.

Although Singh grew up being exposed to both his roots and Canadian culture, he says he is not seeking balance, but rather authentic expression.

“I think the idea of chopping strict lines between musical influences isn’t something I do and the diversity that comes through from ‘Indian culture’ and ‘Western culture’ are so vast that it’s hard for me to pick apart which parts are influencing what,” he says.

Growth and recognition

As a result of Singh’s dedication and execution, he has been able to work with organizations such as the National Film Board (NFB) to collaborate and showcase his music in multiple films.

“I’m deeply honoured to be trusted with this kind of collaboration. I often see music as the emotional language and undercurrent of film to be given the opportunity and faith to work with a directors vision and collaborate in film is truly one of my favorite things,” he says.

Singh says his advice to his younger self would be to learn to be more vulnerable, because it’s where growth and truly great work stems from.

To younger artists, he offers a few words of advice.

“Art is something humans have used for expression for time out of mind. We all have a birthright to it. It is only recently in human history that we’ve divided the role of artist as a ‘career’ to fit within the capitalist paradigm. Art is for everyone to explore and create. Find the things in your world that you are passionate about or want to see change and start creating,” he says.

Social justice and advocacy

As a young artist, Singh aligned with artists who were supporting their communities by running workshops. As he matured, Singh quickly understood the inequities that society faces, and he wanted to help expose these issues through art.

“I have had incredible mentors and colleagues come into my life to nurture my vision for this work. For me as someone from a Sikhi family, it is impossible not to work towards justice for all; it is steeped into the fabric of our beings,” he says.

Singh emphasizes critical thinking, creativity and compassion in his workshops. By doing so, he feels people can connect with each other more easily and be more expressive.

“Creativity allows us to examine these topics from multiple perspectives and gives the ability for us to deeply reflect our own understandings,” he adds.

The pandemic

Singh says the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only crisis we are currently facing.

“We are going through multiple pandemics at the same time,” he points out, “The climate catastrophe, opioid crisis and COVID-19 have impacted my work immensely. I’ve had numerous tours canceled, my income has dramatically dropped and I miss so many people. When stripped of so much of what I used to experience in the world, I’m holding on to what centers me and gives me purpose: creative and liberatory work.”

For more information visit www.pushfestival.ca

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