Ahead of Ruel’s headline Australian tour to launch his debut EP Ready we got a chance to sit down with the young singer/songwriter to discuss the beginnings of his musical career, how he copes with being a teenager in the music industry and performing in Japan.
First of all, How is everything? Where are you right now?
I’m really good! I’m in Melbourne right now I just flew in from Sydney. I’m about to head off to Toronto in a couple of days to start my tour.
Let me ask where did this all begin? Being the boy who loved music to one of Australia’s youngest breakout artists
I’ve always sung around the house at a young age, but never really saw it as anything. But when I was 12 I recorded this cover of James Bay’s “Let It Go”. I had that for quite a while until my dad met my producer Mphazes’ manager while he was doing advertising — because my dad is in advertising — and he played it to Mphazes and he liked what he heard and we have been in touch ever since. Then he wanted me to be on his album and I got into the writing rooms and I’ve been doing it ever since that moment.
That must have been a really exciting experience, at what age did you first get into those writing sessions?
I was 12. So yeah I was pretty young, that’s when I first wrote, “Don’t Tell Me’ with a guy called Thief.
I probably wasn’t doing that at 12, I was probably playing Pokemon or something.
Yeah, I did that too! haha
When did the whole process for the EP begin and how many songs were written in the lead up to its release?
It took around three years to properly make. Quite a while and we probably wrote to around 35 – 40 songs for the whole EP. We then had to cut that down to five tracks which were super hard to do because there were still a lot of songs that I really loved that may never see the light of day.
Will we ever hear them at one of your live shows?
Yeah! I might put one in every now and then. But yeah it was really hard cutting down to five tracks, but I’m super happy that we waited the time we waited and a really didn’t rush it.
Your Debut EP Ready, what’s the meaning of its name and what kind of environment should I put myself to really understand your music
We called it that because you know its been in the works for so long and we really just wanted to wait until we were ready.
And it came to like a month or even a few weeks before it was being released and we didn’t have a name for it.
Then I think it was with my singing teacher, we were just sitting at the table just going through names, and she said why don’t we just call it “Ready” since we are ready? And in my song “Don’t Tell Me” the hook it says, “Don’t tell me I’m not ready”.
So it all kind of made sense and fit really well, and now I’m just really happy with that title and love it so much.
The music definitely sounds ready Ruel. But how would you say your music differs from every other young guy trying to make it out there?
Well, I really wanted to not go straight down the centre and just do pop songs for a certain demographic, because I felt like I would just be turned into a gimmick really and early and I wouldn’t have any credibility as an artist.
I feel like a lot of 15-year-old young dudes that make music go down that gimmicky route and they are only relevant for a few years. I wanted to make this like a proper career of mine and wanted to go down a route that was cool and sounded like music I listen too, like soul, jazz, RnB and alternative sort of music.
That’s awesome mate. But I’ve always wondered is it tough balancing the music thing and school? How does school work for you as a touring musician?
The past couple of years has been pretty easy, I could just go online and study while I was away on tour and do it at the airport or in the hotel room to keep up. But the more into my career I get and the more travelling I do, it gets a lot harder. I reckon when the new year comes I’ll probably go into homeschool or something like that.
Would you call yourself a smart kid?
Umm, I guess I’m not an idiot! But I’m not that smart as well… But I was in school for the last couple of weeks and It was just quite hard because of how behind I was. In terms of keeping up and the content I missed in class it was pretty hard. But I feel in general, I’ll be all right.
Do a lot of kids at your school know what you do? and does it feel weird being in a normal school environment and then playing on stage the next day?
Yeah, it is pretty weird going back to school. But then again most of my best mates don’t really see it as anything. They don’t really talk about it all the time, I can just go back to school and be a normal kid again and not talk about music all the time and be the centre of attention. Which I think is really cool, and I’m very grateful for that.
I remember first seeing you at the Festival Hall during Khalid’s worlds tour, how would you say your live show experience has evolved since being an opening act for such a big talent, and now a big talent yourself.
To be honest I think the main thing is my confidence on stage has grown. I feel like I’ve grown into my feet, I’m not as nervous, jittery and stiff, I’m just a lot more chill on stage now. Which has helped the show a lot and I think it’s a better vibe now, I’ve got a lot more songs now so the set has turned from 25 minutes to an hour.
So it’s going to be a lot of fun going on tour and showing the world that I’m not just this 12-year-old kid anymore who is stiff on stage and scared to move.
Having recently travelled to Asia to play Summer Sonic in Japan, how was the experience like? With the Australian fans and the Asian Fans?
It’s pretty crazy there how different it is, it’s super different to Australia. In a way, the Asian audiences are a lot more active and enthusiastic, they always want a piece of you and come up to ask for a photo or give you gifts. They are very generous with gifts over there.
Then again they are also super respectful and they are really obedient. They don’t go up to you and invade your personal space, they will wait and ask to get a photo. But yeah it’s really different to Australia. But the shows were so much and I can’t wait to go back.
What did you do for downtime?
I just shopped a lot, I went to Harajuku and to all these marketplaces where there were all these really weird stores with just really crazy clothes. so I shopped there for quite a bit.
I also went to Disneyland and did a bunch of sights seeing and stuff like that which was cool.
The support acts for your upcoming Australian EP laugh tour, Dylan Joel and KIAN, what made you want them to be part of your tour?
Dylan has been a really great friend of mine from such a young age. From when I really started at 11 or 12, I met him because he is also managed by my manager. So we just became really good friends from early on and it was just inevitable that I had to put him on my show because he is such an amazing artist. I wanted my fans to see this amazing guy as well.
And KIAN just won Triple J’s Unearthed High and I’ve been following that for a while and I was thought he was really cool from when he first started on triple J unearthed and I was really rooting for him to win. So when he won it, I was like why don’t I put him on my show? So I hit him up and he was down.
Where can we see you next? After your run of Australian shows
After the EP tour ill be going all around the place, but after that ill just be writing. I really want to get back into the studio and get some more songs under my belt.
Can we expect any other new music anytime soon?
There will definitely be some new singles coming out by the end of this year, and hopefully another EP or album.
Ruel’s EP Ready is out now. Don’t miss Ruel as he tours the country:
THU 27 SEPT CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC (U18 MATINEE) with Special Guests Dylan Joel & KIAN
FRI 28 SEPT CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC (LIC 18+) with Special Guests Dylan Joel & KIAN
SAT 29 SEPT ASTOR THEATRE, PERTH WA (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guest Dylan Joel
THU 04 OCT THE GOV, ADELAIDE SA (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guest Dylan Joel
FRI 05 OCT 256 WICKHAM , BRISBANE QLD (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guest Dylan Joel
WED 10 OCT ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY NSW (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guests Dylan Joel & KIAN
Head to secretsounds.com for tickets and more details.