Relatively Speaking: Ruth and Michael Aicken
We ask personalities about the special family relationships in their lives
Husband and wife music duo Michael and Ruth Aicken differ from most bands in that they take their children to rehearsals. They have recently launched their new EP, Troubles. The couple live in Belfast and have two daughters, Freiah-Beth (8) and Siennah-Rose (6)
Name: Ruth Aicken
Occupation: Singer and guitarist
Relationship: Wife of Michael
Michael and I have now been married for 10 years – we started going out together when we met at a gig 15 years ago and were introduced by friends of friends.
We were childhood sweethearts and I fell in love straight away.
I didn't realise that that isn't what you do – fall in love with your first boyfriend. But Michael is very handsome too, so that helped!
We both did GCSEs and A-Levels, then Michael went on to do a medical degree in Scotland and I stayed in Belfast to go to art college.
We had a long-distance relationship all through that time and wrote a lot of songs together when we saw each other. We recorded them in the holidays, thanks to money our parents gave us.
After university we joined the band The Lowly Knights for quite a while, having met them while we were in Scotland.
It was originally a large group of 12 people, including a choir of five, which we were in, but they decided to streamline.
Now that Michael and I are running a band together we can appreciate the nightmare of organising 12 people.
Michael and I write the songs for The Jepettos at night after the girls have gone to bed – it's our release after a crazy day at work, as we also run courses for doctors and nurses on cosmetic injectables.
If you listen to our songs they're about the fights we've had and are quite passionate. We sing joint lead vocals – in other groups I've seen joint female leads fade into the background to do little harmonies and I'm determined that won't happen.
There are six of us in the band and we purposely try to have better musicians than us. We're good but we're better at being songwriters.
Throughout all this we managed to raise our family.
We've been very lucky in that both sets of parents are embarrassingly proud of us and we couldn't ask for for more help from them.
I think they're our main fans and the family support keeps us going.
The girls have always been around backstage – Siennah- Rose even potty-trained during Lowly Knight rehearsals.
We've always felt like aliens on the music scene for being married, let alone having kids.
Not many people in the music scene have families that they bring to rehearsals and soundchecks.
Some people were cool about it but others saw it as a barrier too.
I'm so glad I have an eight-year-old and a six-year-old, though.
I'm very glad the way our life turned out.
Name: Michael Aicken
Occupation: Doctor and singer-songwriter
Relationship: Husband of Ruth
Ruth and I were introduced at a church cafe gig. We started going out about two weeks later – that's what you did back then.
I went to Aberdeen to study medicine. It was hard having a long-distance relationship but we got to see each other every few weeks. Part of the reason we got married so young was because we had lived apart for three years. After we got married, Ruth moved over to Scotland; I think the distance accelerated the whole thing.
Although music is a big part of our lives and something we're really passionate about, I realised early on that it's not easy to make a living from it, which is one of the reasons I studied medicine. I still enjoy being a doctor and I do a few shifts a week – it helps pay the bills.
Running a band together has made us realise we each have our own strengths. When we do disagree it's over who is in charge!
I'm quite happy for Ruth to take care of wardrobe and how the band looks in our videos while I take care of making sure everyone's there at the right time and the right place.
Spending quality time together as a family is something we have to work hard at it. We have lots of family around to help if we need them!