Lesley Rankine is the face and voice of Ruby, a moniker she assumed in 1994 to pivot her music into a new direction.
Before Ruby, Rankine began performing in the 80s with a London garage band known as the Grizzelders, but not long after, she was asked to join the hardcore noise outfit Silverfish, where she and the band eventually garnered a reputation on the punk scene for their industrial-laced, feminist rock anthems – Rankine often screaming out songs and coining the lyric, “Hips, Tits, Lips, Power!”
After five years and several releases with Silverfish, Rankine left the band in 1993 and relocated to Seattle to begin collaborating with Pigface, a large industrial musical project that featured a rotating band of artists led by producer Martin Atkins. Rankine co-wrote and sang on several of the group’s songs, including “Ten Ground And Down” and “Hips, Tits, Lips, Power,” a song inspired by Rankine’s infamous lyric.
It was with that band that Rankine met with producer and fellow Pigface collaborator and Skinny Puppy member, Mark Walk. The two shared a similar approach to songwriting and began to work together in 1994.
The fruits of their collaboration resulted in Ruby’s debut album, Salt Peter, an album which dynamically shifted gears from the aggressive punk/metal Rankine was known for with Silverfish to a record rich with dark, electronic cuts, fusing elements of trip-hop, pop and jazz. The Ruby sound provided the perfect showcase for Rankine’s strong, sinister-sounding vocals and utilized Walk’s talents in mixing and producing.
A remixed version of Salt Peter was released in early 1996 with the six-song EP, Stroking The Full Length following that same year, featuring a selection of additional remixed tracks from Salt Peter. The EP also featured three of Ruby’s music videos from the debut.
Ruby’s music continued to gain traction and during that same year Rankine was featured in a Mountain Dew commercial singing ‘Thank Heaven For Little Girls’ and then later teaming up with Tom Jones (yes – that Tom Jones) for a remake of ‘Kung Fu Fighting,’ from the Jackie Chan action film, Supercop.
It would take nearly six years and Lesley’s return to Scotland before Ruby saw the release of their sophomore release, Short-Staffed At The Gene Pool. Originally complete in 1998, but halted due to record label shifting, the album wasn’t officially released until 2001. A North American tour followed to support its release with Altered & Proud, a remixed version of the album’s songs by people from Dot Allison to Kid 606, following shortly after.
After the release of Short-Staffed At The Gene Pool, Rankine and Walk parted ways as collaborators and the future of Ruby seemed uncertain, as it would take over 10 years before the world heard any new music.
In December 2012, Rankine announced that she had begun working on new material with her brother, Scott Firth, eventually releasing the song “Waiting For Light” in 2013 via social media.
In 2013, Revert To Type was released by Rankine, featuring three newly-crafted songs and remixed versions.
A full-length album, Waiting For Light was officially released in 2014. Recorded largely in Rankine’s home in Scotland, the album was released independently by Rankine herself and through crowdsourcing funds via a successful PledgeMusic campaign where fans were also rewarded with Rankine’s artwork and other bonus material. A percentage of the proceeds also went to Womankind, an international human rights charity supporting the empowerment of women and helping them overcome discrimination, poverty and violence.
Toward the end of 2016, Rankine kicked off a new North American tour – her first in 15 years – by joining Pigface for their 25-year anniversary gala at the House of Blues in Chicago. This preceeded a string of smaller, intimate appearances throughout the country in support of Ruby’s latest release EP, Type-Cast.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, Rankine was performing shows in North America and the United Kingdom, as well as joining Pigface for several performances.
Ruby’s fourth album, tentatively titled Built for Storms, was originally planned to be released in 2018, but is still in progress. ‘Jolene’ is the first official single from the planned album, released digitally in late 2017 and made available on Bandcamp.
Currently, Rankine is preparing for the 25th anniversary of her debut album, Salt Peter, with a re-imagined version of the album to be released in November. In June 2020, she released the first single, an acoustic mix to ‘The Whole is Equal to the Sum of its Parts.’ It will be the first of monthly digital singles prior to the full album’s release.