interview Music

Interview: Ruel

By Max Modell

I got the chance to chat with teenage sensation Ruel, as he supported Mabel at Cardiff’s The Great Hall. With Elton John describing Ruel as having the “most amazing voice that I’ve ever heard from a male singer at 14 years of age”, he is a talent we should all be taking seriously and a name we should be expecting to hear for years to come.

What’s a normal day like for you when you are touring?

It’s pretty hectic. There is always a lot of driving. Especially as a support act you’ve gotta wait around for the right time while their sound checking, obviously because they’re the headline. It’s all fine. Mabel’s team have been really really great, so we’ve had some pretty long soundchecks, which is quite rare, but good. I guess there is just a lot of waiting around, soundchecking and driving.

What’s it been like touring with Mabel? What’s she like?

She’s the best. She’s a really really great person. I’ve done four shows now and it’s been really great, every single one has been really fun. I’m just having a great time.

Going back to the beginning, when did you decide you wanted to pursue music?

Probably when I was around twelve, I really knew this is what I wanted to do. That’s when I really started writing and started meeting people in the industry. I kept on getting more of a taste for it and made friends in the industry and knew that is what I wanted to do.

Did you ever have a worry your voice would completely change when puberty hit?

I did, 100%. We got that checked heaps of times just so knew that it wouldn’t just go away. It has been a slow decline, right now it doesn’t sound very good (Ruel had a cold when I was interviewing him). But it has been a slow decline of my high register and going low. So, it hasn’t been too drastic.

Your songs contain lots of big universal themes. How do you approach your songwriting?

I usually just get small things which happen in my everyday life or big things that have just happened, anything that just really comes from me. If I want to write something and nothing really interesting has happened, I just get a tiny little thing that has happened that day and exaggerate the shit out of it, then it turns into this universally relatable topic.

Who are your biggest influences?

Probably James Blake, Frank Ocean, Rex Orange County, James Bay, there are others.

What’s been your best music moment in your career so far?

Probably my second ever show I did in Sydney, I managed to sell out the Enmore [Theatre] which is like a 2,500 cap room. That was like the craziest moment of my life, just to see all these people in one room for me. It was just so a special show.

What can we expect from one of your live shows?

It’s a lot live you know, it’s not so much track, all live instruments. We have keys, guitar, drums and backing vocals, we don’t have guitar today, but I do in the usual show I do. I do a couple of covers as well. It’s pretty fun.

Do you have a particular favourite cover?

Probably, I do “Ultra-Light Beam”. I do Chance the Rapper’s verse in “Ultra-Light Beam” because that sort of comes off my song golden years, as it’s in the same key and has the same tempo, so it just glides in, which is kinda cool.

How do you balance the music with the rest of your everyday life because you’ve come into this quite young?

It’s been pretty smooth sailing so far. Going back home and see my friends is quite nice because I guess I’m not always the centre of attention and they don’t really see it as anything. I can just go back and it’s a normal teen life. I guess I get to go back as much as I really want to and I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything because when I go back nothing has really changed.

What do you enjoy doing outside of music?

I love to surf. I love to play basketball. Just heaps of sport, I really love sport.

Where do you see your career in three or five years time?

Personally, the goal I want to reach by then is to be able to tour places, anywhere I want to. Go places that not many artists go to because they are like the weirder cities, or the cities that aren’t so big. I want to go to the nooks and crannies of countries and play shows in random spots, just because I feel like that could be cool for the people over there who don’t really have artists coming there. I really just want to go to places usual artists don’t go to and tour there.

Any plans for an album?

I’ve just released my EP (Ready) a couple of months ago. Next year I’ve definitely got another EP coming out and maybe hopefully an album by the end of it. It just depends how everything works out. Before I came on tour with Mabel I was writing quite a bit so I’m definitely getting some more songs under my belt to release in the near future. I don’t even know.

Brilliant, thanks so much.