Most people are terrified of the idea of using a ouija board because the idea of talking to the dead just isn’t some people’s cup of tea I guess. However, sometimes the ghosts that are still living are the scariest ones of all. “Sixth Sense” by Isabel Pless and Blake Ruby is a phantasmal duet that balances wit with heartbreak, offering listeners the opportunity to address the moments in which you have become so distant and disconnected from someone that it feels as if you are haunting one another. Yikes.
Isabel Pless and Blake Ruby each have their own verses, joining one another in unison on the choruses. A lot of the time it seems to be expected that duets have this sort of format where the choruses are these flashy moments of harmony, but in “Sixth Sense”, we are fed a haunting unison where Isabel’s tragically beautiful head voice sits perfectly on the earthy, authentic foundation of Blake’s voice. It isn’t until the bridge that harmony kicks in as they deliver the line of the song that made me spit out my pumpkin cold brew: “Do we need a seance to communicate”. This utterly, and completely, gagged me.
I had the opportunity to break out the ouija board to have a chat with Isabel Pless and Blake Ruby (the only valid means of communication to contact anyone in Nashville):
ER: So with the song, obviously you both have your own feature within it. And what stuck out to me was that the first chorus that you do sing together is in unison, and we don’t really get you guys doing harmony until the bridge, which I thought was really cool because I think it paints the individual narratives of it as if they’re both happening simultaneously, like each narrative. And then the bridge is where we figure out that maybe there is acknowledgment that they’re going through the same thing. Because it’s like… What I get from it is like two characters, right? So I was wondering, was that a conversation about when to sing harmony versus when to not and what was that intention like?
Blake: I think I remembered that I was going to sing more harmonies on it. Then we wrote it one day, and we had one main production session in the studio. I feel like the intention was to go further with a lot of the layers and stuff, and then we ended up just falling in love with how stripped it was. But I do love that that’s the feeling of how when you get to the bridge, it’s like the first connection moment. I didn’t even think about that, to be honest.
Isabel: Yeah, we definitely had some conversations about. I think there was a conversation about whether in the chorus, I was going to sing harmony or sing the melody and we ended up just going with the melody and then harmony and the bridge. Yeah, that’s a really cool interpretation. I think it does add to the storytelling.
ER: Isabel, you have this very haunting, upper register. I feel like when you were just moving in octaves, it felt like that ghostly intention that you guys were going towards.
Blake: My voice is a little darker and more mid-rangey, naturally, and Isabel, yours is so airy. I feel like it’s this mega voice when they’re both together. That’s what we did when we were writing it, too, is we just were singing it together and you were up in higher octaves. It’s just built into how we were writing the song.
ER: I think a lot of the times when you do the co-features, it’s like, I don’t know, there’s one artist that either is like, Lana Del Rey was on Snow on the Beach, but was she?So it’s cool to see that you guys work symbiotically. So what about the concept of the song? Obviously, Six Sense is the name of a 90s movie that was like… I actually just watched in the fall when I was down bad, probably high on cough syrup accidentally, sick watching this movie for the first time in my bedroom. So when I saw this track, I was drawn back to that. So is there a connection to the movie? How did the concept come about for this song?
Blake: I’ve never actually seen the movie, so…
Isabel: I actually haven;t either.
ER: That is so funny. Anyways…So with this song coming out, who are you hoping it finds, I guess? Who are you hoping this resonates with? If you could describe a person that it could find?
Isabel: I think what I love so much about the song is how, not to toot our own horn, but it’s a very creative song, I think. And it’s sad, but also fun, I think in the way that it is playing around this idea that you’re feeling really disconnected from somebody. I would hope that the people who end up listening to it can resonate with it because I think everyone has felt that way.
ER: This song really could apply to so many emotional situations, whether it’s a significant other or a friend that’s platonic. But it’s really cool that you’ve universally done that through this mentality of haunting, which is really just associated with ghosts for the most part rather than human beings. Do you guys feel like you believe in ghosts?
Isabel: I think I’m of the mindset of like, I just don’t want to know.
Blake: I actually have a pretty convincing ghost story.
Isabel: You have a story?
Blake: I work at this studio in Nashville. And the basement level, there’s a studio room and a lounge in the basement level. Actually, to preface, I didn’t hear the stories before this happened. I’m working down there. I closed up. I was a student worker. I would clean up afterwards, and then I could use the space when everybody was gone. There was one night I was just doing trash and I was doing the vacuum cleaner. I had my phone in my shirt pocket listening to a podcast. I stepped down to the basement floor level and my phone screen glitched out of the speakers. I’m serious. Then my phone shuts off. I was like, Oh, that’s not… It’s never ever happened to my phone ever again. My phone had a full battery, so I have no idea what happened. Then the next week, we had a staff meeting, and I told them the story, and they were like, “Oh, yeah”. A couple of the other workers that were there way longer than me had claimed that they had seen her.
ER: That is wild. Hopefully this song didn’t conjure any new ghosts. If you could pick one line or lyric, either for melodic reasons or lyrical reasons throughout the song that you feel embodies what you want it to, what would that be?
Isabel: We have this one lyric in the bridge that is like, “Do we need a seance-”
ER: *Cutting her off* Oh my gosh, yes, that’s literally the one I had written down that I was going to reference if it wasn’t brought up. (The full line is: “Do we need a seance to communicate?”)
Blake: That line is crazy!
ER: It’s so cold, but it’s so witty and smart. Back to that mindset of being heartbreaking, but also satirical almost in a way. I love the bridge. I really love the bridge so much.
Isabel: Thank you! I think it just sums up the whole meaning of the song, and it reaches the peak emotionally.
ER: Well thank you guys so much for taking the time to chat with me! I love this song so much and am so glad you shared it.
Isabel: Thank you so much! Bye!
Isabel Pless IG: @isabel_pless
Blake Ruby IG: @blakervby