14-Year-Old Ruby Moss Is Bringing Music And Climate Action Together

"Writing songs is a way of talking about something that’s on your mind without actually talking about it."

When we’re growing up, we often have an interest or passion that feels like our calling in life.

For 14-year-old Ruby Moss, she has two: music and climate activism. The teen, originally from Trim in Meath, has always been passionate about music and singing, as well as playing various instruments too. But she’s also hugely passionate about our planet, and has been from a young age. Ruby uses music to communicate the things that matter to her, so naturally, the star, who now lives in Dublin, has found a way to combine the two.

Ruby has also been selected by An Taisce as a Climate Ambassador for 2022, and has recently released new music too.

KISS caught up with Ruby to chat about her writing process, how she worked with her grief to create a new song, and her activism.

Hi Ruby, Did you always want to be a singer?

“I’ve always loved music, from a very young age and I found my voice when I attended St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir School in Dublin 8. I joined the girls’ choir there and every day we were immersed in music and music theory as part of our school day. I continued piano lessons there and took up the flute there too. Playing instruments was really encouraged and tuition was subsidised. Singing in such a beautiful venue as St Patrick’s Cathedral definitely encouraged me to sing more. I also heard the organ played there and that made me determined to play the organ – it touched my soul! The only bad thing about St Patrick’s was that the boys’ choir got to sing more than the girls and I think the boys were paid and the girls weren’t! I was very fortunate to be awarded the Organ Scholarship in Dundalk Grammar School where I get organ lessons and get to play the organ for an hour every day!

What is your writing process like?

It varies. I play a lot of instruments and sometimes, I’ll get a chord progression or a melody while I’m improvising on the flute, guitar or piano. I have a few instrumental pieces that I am working on. A lot of the time with lyrics and melodies though, they come out of strong emotion like my first song Invisible, I was feeling really sad and alone when I wrote that song at school on a Wednesday afternoon.

My new single ‘If You Are’ is about the death of my great grandma. Often there will be a phrase with a melody that just stays in my head. When that happens I try to voice note it immediately if I’m not somewhere that I can work on the song – so that I don’t forget it and come back to work on it when I have time. I think I have lost a lot of great songs when I am in class at school and can’t record them! I always have lots of works in progress. Writing songs is a way of talking about something that’s on your mind without actually talking about it. Writing music is a way of escape. I’m working on music for the New Music Festival in Dublin in April with the Creative Lab programme in the National Concert Hall at the moment and this is a different way of writing for me as I am scoring the music for other musicians. It’s a great experience and I am starting with a theme and keeping the other instruments in mind and working from there

Tell us about your new song If You Are

My great grandma Beryl died in December 2020. We thought she was going to live forever but we hadn’t seen much of her because of COVID and I was in school and worried about passing it on to her. She got sick and went downhill rapidly. My mum picked me up from school so I could see her to say goodbye but I was ten minutes too late. She was gone. I held her hand but she was gone, I couldn’t feel her around me. But since then, sometimes I can smell her and I can feel that she is near. When I started writing the song If You Are, it was a few months after grandmama had died and I just couldn’t hold the tears back. I hope she can hear my song, that somehow she knows I tried to get there to say goodbye and that I miss her.

As a climate activist and musician, what are your hopes for the future?

I hope that the world will be a better, fairer, more equal space for all of us humans and other animals too. I would love to see the dependence on animal agriculture and fossil fuels be eliminated and as we explore new ways of doing things that we become kinder and more tolerant of each other. There are big changes ahead for all of us in the world because of Climate Change and the impact we have had on the planet. I think we are becoming more aware that all of the issues we face are connected and I think that realising that makes it easier to face up to what we have to do. I am hopeful for all of us. We are still a very young species and we are learning all the time.

Personally, I have a very busy few months ahead. I have piano, flute, and organ music exams as well as Feis performances for organ and choir. I’m really excited to be playing with my school orchestra in the National concert Hall in February and to be participating in the New Music Festival with the Creative Lab programme in the National Concert Hall.

Music will always be a big part of my life but I’m not sure how yet. I would love if I could just keep making music, keep doing my art, have a few rescue cats and reach people with the climate change message through my music and art.

You have always been passionate about climate action; can you tell me about your role as Climate Ambassador?

I have always been vegetarian because I was brought up that way and when I asked about it, I was told that not eating other animals was better for the environment. I became vegan when I was 8 and this was for ethical reasons. So, I guess, because of this I have always been aware of the impact of our behaviour on our environment.

I went to a Climate Rally three years ago outside the Dail and I met Mary Robinson there, she was very encouraging. I had a sign that I had made at home about being vegan and linking it to climate change. Mary Robinson had her photo taken with me and my sign! It is such a privilege to be selected as a Climate Ambassador with An Taisce, it was really unexpected but a really nice surprise! I started the training for the position with them on Saturday and I am very excited about it. I think I was selected because of my Climate Trilogy of songs that I released last year; Shades of Grey, Stranded and We Can Change. The three songs dealt with communication, the obstacles ahead and finally the changes we must make and the certainty that we can make those changes. I have some plans for the year as Climate Ambassador and hope to share them with everyone soon!

Do you think music and activism go hand in hand? How do you bring your two passions together?

After I released my Climate Trilogy songs, I started looking at music by other people about climate change and other social issues and there is so much of it out there. I really hope that by writing good, catchy music that the message will go out to more people who may not have heard it on other platforms. I am lucky that I have music – lucky that I can use it to express my feelings and lucky that I can use it to spread a message too.

You can follow Ruby on Instagram here and listen to her new song here.