We headed backstage just before Mabel’s sold out show in Birmingham to catch up with opening act, 16 year-old Ruel from Australia…
Ruel is a 16-year old singer and songwriter from Autralia who has been making music since the age of twelve. With millions of views on YouTube and recognition and support from Grammy-winning producer M-Phazes, we had to meet the young and gifted artist whilst on UK tour with Mabel to find out more about the tour and life as a young and upcoming musician.
Here’s what he had to say…
Is this your first tour? How is tour life; is this something you can get used to?
I’ve done a couple tours before, but this is my first support tour in the UK. I just got off a huge long world tour a couple weeks ago, around the end of last month. I kind of went all around, to America, all around Australia and all around Europe, including the UK and I was on the road for a long time, but it was really really fun.
As we know, you are 16 and you are making your mark on the music scene already which is really good! Has this new lifestyle had an effect on your personal life?
Thank you! I mean, obviously I’m not at home as much as I would like to be, or as much as any other person, but when I go back it’s really cool because my friends don’t really see it as anything. I can go back and not be the centre of attention. It’s nice to have a break when I go back, but I feel like every time I go back, nothing’s changed. So it doesn’t really feel like I’m missing out on much.
Has your music career affected your school life? Have you managed to find the right balance?
The past couple years have been pretty tough to do school, but so far it has been smooth sailing. I’ve just had a tutor on the road with me who is also my backing singer. I can access my school online as well, but next year I’ll be doing full home schooling which is going to be…”fun”.
We have had a chance to speak to your Mom, which leads on to the next question which is…have your parent’s adapted to this new lifestyle? And do you think they expected it to happen so soon?
I don’t think so no, but I don’t know if they’ve adapted yet. But I try and bring one of my parents on a certain tour or a riding trip every now and then just so you know, they can see what I’m doing all this time when I’m away from home. But yeah, I think they’ve adapted – my mom’s loving it! My Mom’s on this Mabel tour right now and she always has the best time on tour which is really nice. It’s just cool to hang with my Mom while I’m doing these things.
Being quite young, who were some of the people you listened to growing up?
While I was growing up, it was usually the stuff my Dad played around the house, that music was kind of forced onto me but I loved it as soon as I heard it. He used to play Bill Withers, Dave Brubeck, Stevie Wonder and newer stuff like Amy Winehouse and James Blake. My Dad put me on to Kendrick really early on so that’s really cool.
Out of the artists you named and the artists you listen to, which one of them inspire you the most?
I mean, I feel like there’s not one particular artist that really inspires my music. I feel like it’s just all the stuff that I kinda listen to that I subconsciously put into my music because that’s what I know and that’s what I listen to at the time. So it could really be anything that I’ve heard since I was born that has influencing or inspired my music.
You’ve broken into the music scene quite early and someone that comes into mind that broke into the scene early was Justin Beiber. Is he someone you look up to or would like to reach a similar point to in your career?
I kind of want to always stay left of centre, direct from the very beginning. From the start of my career it was all about the music instead of the age as well. It was always going into it as if my face or my actual personality came secondary to the music, and that’s I’ve really wanted to do from the beginning so I wasn’t pigeon holed and made into this teen pop gimmick. Justin is an amazing artist and extremely talented, but I kinda feel like I want to keep left of that.
If you could pick three people to collab with right now, who would they be?
Probably erm, Frank Ocean, James Blake and Mark Ronson.
Maybe! I met her less than a week ago, so yeah, we just met, but she seems really cool and I love her music so, who knows.
Listening to some of your songs, you talk a lot about love. Is love an option for you at this stage of your career?
I feel like [my songs are inspired] from personal experiences but usually I just get small things that have happened to me and then just exaggerate the shit out of them. So I feel like the songs that I write may come across as I’ve this huge kind of love rollercoaster for the past 15 years of my life, but it hasn’t really been like that I guess. In fairs, I don’t really have time for that when I’m on tour and I don’t feel like I need that right now. We’ll just see what happens I guess.
This leads on to the next question which is, is there anyone who has actually left you ‘Dazed and Confused’?
The song was actually about someone that I met when I was around twelve or 13. I had this like…I wouldn’t even call it a thing. I just knew this girl that I was really liked and I heard she really liked me as well. I was kind of expecting…you know that this could be a thing. And then, when I met her it was really awkward. She didn’t even speak. She would just turn around and talk to her friends and force me to have to talk to my friends. It was really like this typical elementary stuff. It was just annoying. And erm, I guess that happened for like a year because I really liked her, but nothing really came of it.
I remember, after I said, you know, I’m out of this, I can’t be arsed anymore, I went to another school. I went to high school and the first week of that, I hung out with a couple of my friends and some other girls. And there was this one girl that was just like…who would actually talk to me! Put it that way. They just actually were really confident and really outgoing and just telling me about themselves and I was just blown away by that. Like, this is how it should be! I guess this is what girls are really like and I don’t know, that kind of, blew me away and knocked me off my feet even though it was just a girl that talked to me. So yeah, that’s what the song was about.
So your main genre seems to lean towards pop/R&B. Are there any genres you would like to delve into or try out?
I would really like to try more of soul and alternative. Also a little bit more of alternative singing and songwriting stuff like Rex Orange County and Frank Ocean. I feel like I’ve been writing over the past month and I’ve been going into different genres a little bit and trying heaps of different stuff. So yeah, I feel like my EP that I’ve just released kinda gave me a good starting ground to really go wherever I want because I had a variety on that EP of different types of songs. So yeah, who knows? I just want to make music that I like listening to and in effect, that’s what I’ve been doing and whatever we feel is appropriate, we’ll release.
If you could pick any of your songs to play to any musician right now, what song would it be and which artist would you choose?
That’s a great question. Erm, I reckon I would pick….. probably ‘Not Thinking About You’ which is more of the R&B song of the EP and I feel like that is my favourite at the moment. I feel like that one has the best lyrics and the coolest vibe and is easy and fun to groove to, but I don’t know who I would play that to. I feel like playing my songs to any musician I would find extremely awkward but I mean, probably like Tyler The Creator or something. Just someone who I really look up to.
Where do you want your music to take you in the future? What’s the ultimate goal?
My goal, is tour in places that all artists don’t go to. I want to go to the weird places jus like, in the country of the big cities. Like, in random places so I can see places more I guess. Because I feel like when people tour, they just go to London and then they go to Berlin. Like just the big major cities. I want to go to the cities that not many people go to. I feel like that’s the ultimate thing. Once you get to that stage, you can do wherever you want and tour wherever you want. I want to get to that stage where there’s fans everywhere.
Again, at only 16, you have the potential to break a number of records and really leave your mark on the scene. What would you like to achieve by the end of 2019?
I want to release, hopefully a full album. I know an EP is coming next year, but I want to release an album or just a full body of work that I can really come back to and really call my own. I don’t know if that will happen because of all the touring. I’ll be doing heaps more touring next year but I feel like that’s a good goal to set so I can really have body of work by the end of 2019.
Ruel’s EP Ready is available now.