Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Kaley Rutledge is best known until now for the ethereal experimental music she makes as De Joie. In the tumult of 2020, Kaley almost gave up on music, enrolling instead in a Doctor Of Psychology program to pursue a career as a Mental Health Therapist. It was during the enrolment process that a close friend of Kaley’s took her own life and in her words, “unearthed a grief in me I had never before experienced”. That experience saw Kaley turn back to music and complete work on the songs that would become her debut album under her own name, Tender Heart.
Ahead of the October release of Tender Heart, Kaley recently shared the latest single from it, Social Cues. Described by Kaley as a “reflection upon the strange, circular, and sometimes entirely arbitrary behaviours we use to buffer human interaction”. Musically, the track is a delight, a melding of pop and alt-country bringing to mind the likes of Basia Bulat or Natalie Prass, with Kaley’s stunning vocal accompanied by rolling bass and bright, meandering keyboard lines as she asks, “do people notice when I leave the room? ‘Cause there’s a part of me that wants them to”. The track follows previous single, Tough Enough, a song about standing your ground and remaining true to yourself in the face of people who want to shape you into their own image, as Kaley sings, “I don’t want it that badly, to change a thing about myself that I quite like”. Tender Heart is a record that comes from the most difficult time imaginable, a period of global and personal tragedy, yet it is not a cold record, it has a soothing quality, an aural balm to take you through the struggle and begin to lead you out into the light.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Kaley Rutledge?
Hi, I’m Kaley. I am a Florida native who has lived in Nashville for about 10 years. I put out my first EP in 2016 under the name De Joie and decided this last year to make an album with a new sound under my real name. Which is hopefully easier to pronounce. My biggest monthly expenditures are candles for my house and coffee from Crema. I love to bass fish, bake, practice yoga and cook with friends. I love “Pride & Prejudice” and my greatest dream in high school was to be a point guard for a Divison 1 basketball team which absolutely did not happen.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
My first show was for a fundraiser event when I was 15. I borrowed my friend’s (very nice) guitar. At the end of the set, I looked down and there was blood all over the guitar from not using a pick. It was as horrific as it sounds. Weird that I get nervous playing shows now?
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
For a long time, I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was the only one around me who felt things deeply. I was told countless times that I needed to ‘toughen up’ and felt immense shame for my emotional sensitivity. As cliche as it may sound, music was my confidant and friend. As a young girl, it helped me have a voice and continues to do so. I always loved writing as a kid and was around a very musical family. Growing up, I found shelter in listening to music from Brandi Carlile, Miranda Lambert, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson (a wide range, I know). They expressed their anger, sadness and fear through music and I felt a sort of invitation from them to do the same. I think that’s what I chose this art form.
FTR: What can people expect from the Kaley Rutledge live show?
People can expect heartfelt sentiment, charming wit and for me to forget my lyrics at least once.
FTR: What’s next for Kaley Rutledge?
The full record “Tender Heart” releases on October 15th. I truly cannot wait! I am also playing a Nashville show, so stay tuned.
They Listen To…
Gang of Youths – The Angel of 8th Ave
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Beach House – Myth
Angel Olsen – Lark
Fleet Foxes – Can I Believe You
Feist – The Bad In Each Other
Tender Heart is out October 15th via Tone Tree Music. For more information on Kaley Rutledge visit https://tenderhe.art/.