You may better know Emily Ruvidich as Brianna May, the lead guitarist in the popular Queen cover band, Killer Queens. The band, who played for the cast at the San Francisco world premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody, made such an impression, word got back to the real surviving members of Queen. They invited Killer Queens’ lead singer to walk the red carpet at the London premiere held at Wembley Stadium.
Ruvidich will be playing a lot of shows with both Killer Queens and her other all-female cover band, Doll Face, in the fall, and she’ll also be doing some work with Gibson at NAMM in July.
Guitar Girl Magazine caught up with Ruvidich via phone where she was able to talk about both her bands, as well as her interest in astrophysics.
Tell me a little about your musical background.
Well, I started with classical piano when I was in first grade. When I first started playing, my parents had to force me and bribe me to play it, and then it eventually got to where I loved it so much their punishment for me was not to let me play it.
What was the switch that made you start to love it so much?
I don’t know. You know, the more comfortable with an instrument you get, the more fun you have with it. Once I was able to start playing more stuff that I knew and liked, I had more fun with it, and it spiraled from there. And I had a really great teacher, and I love her so much still. We still keep in contact since first grade. She’s like family to me.
From piano and flute, how did you transition to playing guitar?
Then I got into rock ‘n’ roll, and I wanted to play guitar.
Who were your early influences?
I really listened to Queen a lot. That came at a very early age. My entire family is really into Queen. So I think Queen and Billy Joel were really the first ones.
What about Doll Face?
With Doll Face, we literally play every genre you can think of. We play so much different stuff, and it’s really fun because they’re also a really great group of people. It’s like a group of friends getting together and playing songs we like and getting paid for it.
Do you play at a particular place in Vegas like a residency, or do you play all over?
All over. We have a couple of different residencies at different casinos on the Strip, but we play all over Vegas and then some fly-outs outside of Vegas.
Now based in Los Angeles, but you’re from North Carolina. What took you out to LA?
I moved out to LA about three and a half years ago because I was accepted into the bachelor program at Musicians’ Institute for guitar. I went there for almost a year, but then I was getting tons of opportunities to play and get paid for it, so I had to make a decision, but I enjoyed my time there.
Was that hard for you?
Yes, it was. The hardest part was not being in any school. I like being in school to feel like I’m on track. Now, I’m back in school along with doing music.
What are you majoring in?
Right now, I’m working towards astrophysics at California State University Northridge.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
I do not know yet. I’m taking it really slowly – only one or two classes a semester because that’s all I have time for school along with music. But I’m working towards it.
Have you ever recorded anything on your own?
I really want to one day. That’s definitely my goal – is to do some solo stuff. I’m just so wrapped up with my current projects that time really hasn’t presented itself.
How often are you playing out with your cover bands?
A lot now. In the past nine days, I’ve been onstage 26 hours.
Do you think that’s due to the movie? Did you notice a change in popularity after Bohemian Rhapsody came out?
There’s definitely more demand for Queen since the movie, and a lot of people who have heard of Queen but might not be super into them are now getting more and more into Queen because of the movie.
Do you have a creative process when you write your own material?
I can’t force it. I have to wait for an idea to come to me or for me to hear something.
What’s your favorite song to cover?
Either “Hammer to Fall” by Queen or “Crazy Train” by Ozzy.
What are you listening to right now?
Really, I’m only listening to the songs I’m performing to keep up with practicing them because there’s so many of them I have to keep up with. For Doll Face, I have four or five hours of material, and then for Killer Queens, we have two hours of material.
What is it like being a female heavy metal guitarist?
I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. It’s been great. I don’t have anything negative to say. I haven’t had any sort of negative experience. I guess it shows on some people’s faces at shows. You can tell, “Oh, how’s this gonna be? We’ll see.” But then they’re rocking out as soon as you start.
What advice would you give your younger self starting out as a musician?
Do not give up. Don’t listen to what other people have to say. You just have to keep pushing forward, keep working hard, and things will work out for you.