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An Interview with Jack Rutter of Ritt Momney

Photo by Photo via Apple Music
Ritt Momney’s debut album “Her and All of My friends,” was released July 19, 2019. It was featured on Marquette Radio’s Best 10 Albums of 2019 list.

As people around the world grow bored in quarantine due to COVID-19, even some of our favorite bands and artists share the struggle of being forced to sit around their parents’ homes and partake in social distancing. I chatted with musician Jack Rutter, the brains behind Ritt Momney, about what he’s been up to for the last month and lots more.

Note from Ritt Momney’s website: “Ritt Momney is the solo project of 20-year-old Salt Lake City native Jack Rutter. Beginning as an indie rock band comprised of high school friends, the project became a personal outlet for Rutter after his bandmates left on Mormon missions and his girlfriend left for college. In his bedroom, he began writing, recording, and producing his debut LP, entitled “Her and All of My Friends,” in which Rutter grapples with loss, loneliness, and a drift away from Mormon culture.”

Ritt Momney had just set out on tour with singer/songwriter Dayglow when the U.S. began canceling concerts and other large gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Q: How have you been doing? What have you been doing?

A: I started the tour with Dayglow, and we played the two Chicago shows and then from there I just came back to Salt Lake and just took on quarantine with my family. And that’s sort of what I’ve been doing. I can’t remember how long it’s been, but I think it’s like at least a month. But it really hasn’t been bad, I’ve kind of enjoyed it. I’ve been able to be pretty productive, and it’s kind of nice because there isn’t a project that I’m trying to put out like anytime soon. It’s nice that I just have some time to kind of work on whatever I want to and just mess around with some different ideas. That’s been pretty fun. But yeah, I’ve been pretty good, honestly.

Q: So this project, Ritt Momney, it’s kind of become your solo project. I know you typically tour with a band, but on the album are we hearing just you playing all the instruments, or do your band members record their parts for the album, too?

A: My friend Jonas, who plays guitar in the live band, he recorded the slide guitar solo at the end of “Paper News,” and the song “II” that’s kind of like an interlude, that was a duet on guitars between us two. But other than that, it was all me.

Q: Do you have a favorite part of the recording process?

A: If it was a year or two ago, I’d say producing is by far my favorite part. But honestly, all the scientific stuff behind it, I’ve just totally stressed myself out about making sure everything is compressed right and trying to get it as loud as possible and all that stuff that is kind of just objectively not fun to do. Like that has sort of put a damper on it a little bit. The creative, non-scientific parts of production are still really fun for me. So, I guess I would say deciding how I want everything to sound and finding certain sounds on my synths — those creative production aspects are my favorite.

Q: This album that you have out, “Her and All of My Friends,” it’s a pretty personal album and you kind of put yourself out there and let yourself be vulnerable through the songwriting on the album. I’m curious: Is there any part of the writing process that is especially therapeutic for you?

A: Yeah, it definitely is therapeutic. It really helps in the same way as writing something down in a journal. But I guess it’s a little more therapeutic than that ’cause I can put the emotion into the actual musical elements of it, and it’s kind of like a more dynamic diary I guess. And to me, the most therapeutic part is like listening back to it later on. I try not to be really in my head about it while I’m actually writing something, and so a lot of times I’ll listen back to it and be like, ‘Oh, that’s what I meant, and that makes sense that I said that because I was going through this.’ So yeah, I think the most therapeutic part is just listening back to it later on.

Q: Is there any one song that you feel the most proud of or one song that you like the best?

A: If I had to say what I’m the most proud of, I guess it would be “(If) the Book Doesn’t Sell,” just because that’s the one song that I can actually feel like it made at least a little bit of a difference for some people. I’ve gotten a bunch of DMs from people saying like, ‘This is exactly how I feel, and I’ve never heard anyone put it into words and this has given me some of the courage I need to talk to my parents about how I feel about religion.’ And to know that I can kind of contribute to that in some way and help people out in that way at least a little bit is a really good feeling. But that’s not necessarily the song I like the best. I think the one I like the best is probably the song “III,” like the outro on the album. Like, if I had never heard any of those songs before and I listened through the album, I think that would probably be the one that I liked the sound of the most, and I kind of like the message behind it too.

Q: On the topic of “(If) the Book Doesn’t Sell,” there’s this image of God having this conversation with the devil, and it’s such a clear and specific picture in the song. Is there anything in particular that sparked that idea for you?

A: That took a long time. That was definitely one of the songs that didn’t just fall out onto the page. This was one I tried to be really careful and articulate about. I don’t know where exactly I got the idea to do the personification thing with God and the devil, but that whole verse is basically running through the progression of my beliefs from when I first started having doubts about my religion. That was kind of like when I came upstairs and thought, ‘Oh yeah, maybe God and the devil aren’t, like, super big enemies, and maybe it’s more complicated than that.’ And the progression of that conversation with them kind of just represents the next four or five years from when I was 14 to 18 or 19. And that’s kind of just how it went throughout those years as I was figuring it out. It’s really meant to be a personal, subjective thing, like I’m just telling my own experience, and obviously everybody is going to have a different experience. But I guess other people might walk upstairs and just see God, or maybe they see God, like, beating the devil up or something. But I guess this is just representative of my journey through my beliefs.

Q: So your life experiences have influenced your songwriting, but I’m curious what else or who else have you drawn inspiration from as a songwriter, whether that be music-related inspiration or not.

A: A lot of my influences in my life are musical influences. Early James Blake is definitely one of them. Like, listening to his self-titled album maybe freshman or sophomore year of high school, I hadn’t heard anything like that. And that’s when I first kind of saw the value in trying to push boundaries a little bit, so that’s super inspiring for me. I’m really inspired by Strfkr’s melodies and production style. I’m also inspired by Feist’s melodies and production style especially on the album “Pleasure.” But those are really some of my main influences.

Q: I’m also curious, what music in general have you been listening to lately?

A: The thing that sucks about doing music all the time is that at least for me, I just can’t get into other people’s music as much recently. I guess I’m just overthinking it or something. But I did really like Zack Villere’s latest album. But also, I kind of spent high school being really uppity about my music taste, and I was like, ‘Oh, these people who listen to radio music and people that listen to music that everybody else listens to are stupid, and if a lot of other people are listening to this person that must mean they aren’t that good because they’re, like, accessible.’ But I’ve kind of come out of that. I’m not quite to the point where I enjoy top 40 stuff, but I realized that I kind of had to let go of the whole listening to music for the sake of being cool and showing other people how cool your music taste is, ’cause otherwise you’re missing out on a lot of good music. But it has been a while since I’ve really found an artist like James Blake where I am constantly listening to it. I just haven’t really found that since I started doing music a bunch. But that’s just a mindset thing, and I’m sure I’ll come out of that at some point.

Q: Any books/shows/movies you’ve been into lately?

A: I’m watching that “What We Do in the Shadows” show. I watched the movie a long time ago, but I think the show is totally funnier than the movie. And I’ve been reading “The Wizard and the Prophet.” It’s kind of a — it’s like a book about like two different approaches to environmentalism, and that’s been interesting. But other than that, it’s just been mostly music I guess.

Q: Circling back to your own music, is there any one live show that stands out or a particular venue you love the most?

A: I really like Schuba’s in Chicago. That was where Dayglow and I played the two shows before the tour got canceled. And I’ve played there once or twice before that too, and I really like that venue. I was really excited about the New York show as well. But I’d definitely say Schuba’s is my favorite place I’ve played so far.

Q: And I know all the Milwaukee fans will be curious to hear your thoughts about Boone & Crockett — I know you played there once in the fall. Does anything stand out about that bar to you?

A: That was really cool. I really enjoy the kind of weather that you get in Milwaukee. I like the colder weather. But definitely a cool vibe in Milwaukee in general. Everyone there was super nice, like, just so nice. And we had Justin Vernon’s cousin or someone who was taking a break from being a guitar player for Bon Iver because he had a kid or something, but he was our sound guy at that venue. So that was sick. I really did enjoy that place. I remember it really well. It’s really cool.

Q: I know you said you’re not releasing anything super soon, but I am kind of curious too, what kind of potential ideas might be in the works for some new Ritt Momney music?

A: So, I have a cover that’s coming out actually on Friday. It’s a cover of “Put Your Records On,” that 2000s pop song. I thought it would be interesting to cover. So there’s that, but that’s really all that’s set in stone right now, which is kind of nice. A lot of the pressure started coming on after I released “Something, In General,” but before that when there was just zero pressure and I could just make music and not have to think about what anybody was going to think of it, I feel like I’m kind of slowly getting back to that place. Cause with the last album, it was taking me forever, so I had to set a hard deadline, and that last week was just a lot. But I definitely feel like I’m in a more free place musically right now. But yeah, this cover is just a fun little thing. I was just trying to have an accessible, positive song to combat this quarantine stuff for people.

Q: Well thanks for doing this Jack, we really appreciate hearing from you. I just have one more question, a bit of a curveball to end on. I’ve gotta know, because I know you play a lot of different instruments, so: If you were stranded on a desert island and you only had one instrument with you, what would you choose and why?

A: I don’t know if this counts, but I think I would choose my Nord keyboard because it has all the piano sounds, but it also has pretty much any other sound you can think of, so I could kind of use that to have a lot of fun messing around with all the parameters on the synth and stuff.

You can listen to Ritt Momney’s debut album “Her and All of My Friends” on Spotify and Apple Music and other streaming services. And be sure to check out his upcoming cover of “Put Your Records On,” by Corinne Bailey Rae.

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