Watch Flower Face perform her gorgeous folk-pop on The Intro
The Montrealer started by mailing out her bedroom-pop CDs — now she has 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify
Montreal's Flower Face, a.k.a. Ruby McKinnon, might have recently hit one million monthly listeners on Spotify, but her vulnerable ballads first reached fans on mailed-out CDs when McKinnon was 13 years old.
"It was all so DIY, you know? It was all me," McKinnon told Intro host Jess Huddleston, in Episode 4 of this season. Now releasing music under the childhood nickname her grandmother gave her, Flower Face has a team behind her, and her bedroom-pop side project has become a full-time gig.
McKinnon started her musical training at five with piano lessons, and her early influences might be surprising after listening to her delicate, heartbreaking songs: her first concert at nine years old was a shared bill between punk-rock bands Rise Against and Rancid.
She got to meet Rise Against lead singer Tim McIlrath due to her dad's contacts through his job at a radio station, which was a common treat for her: a "little girl in a camo hat and turquoise Crocs," as she described herself, meeting all these musicians just as she was learning music herself. It was the perfect foundation for someone whose fans would become very attached to the dark-hearted folk-pop she was creating.
Flower Face released multiple albums independently starting in 2014, including 2018's Baby Teeth, which let the singer open up about her personal experience with ovarian cancer at the age of 17. This significant health scare helped McKinnon decide to double down on what she wanted to do: make music full time.
In May 2022, she released her Nettwerk label debut, The Shark in Your Water, reaching more and more listeners around the world. The singer lists Indonesia and Turkey as her top streaming countries, which is a testament to the impact of her songs — and her personal connection to fans.
"I want to try and be a really good persona representation of my music, so that [fans] have a good person to connect to the music that they love," said McKinnon.
Watch Flower Face perform her intimate songs live in the Intro episode above.
CBC Music's The Intro spotlights emerging musicians across the country through interviews and live performances, and airs on CBC Gem, YouTube and CBCMusic.ca/TheIntro. Keep an eye out for new episodes every second Tuesday.