Having already sold-out his debut New Zealand show next month, it’s fair to say that Australian singer Ruel has captured people’s attention. His six-track ‘Ready’ EP, released in June of this year, showcases the talents of the young up-and-comer, with standout tracks ‘Dazed & Confused’ and ‘Younger’ a look into his immense songwriting abilities, which are likely to only continue to get better and better.
We spoke with Ruel in Sydney about the release of his ‘Ready’ EP, and what else he has planned for 2018…
The thing that touches my heart the most is when I see fans and they say, ‘I could relate to this song so much and it helped me through this.’ That’s just the best feeling in the world, so that’s what I want to do.
COUP DE MAIN: We love your ‘Ready’ EP! In 'Younger' you reflect on a friendship that changed a lot over time for you, do you think that friendships require just as much effort and work as any other relationship, romantic or with your family, to keep in your life?
RUEL: Thank you, so much. I guess so, I feel like for certain friendships when you’re this age or my age or younger, I just feel like when you’re growing, people find different interests. You just grow apart naturally, it doesn’t have to be one particular thing that pulls it apart, but I guess it’s all about growing, instead of the strength you need to put into the relationship.
CDM: You say, "I've been trying hard enough to be a better friend." At what point does it become impossible to keep holding onto a friendship if the other person isn't putting the same amount of effort back in?
RUEL: I guess when there’s a point where one person is actually trying to get in touch and trying to make things work again, and the other person is resisting. I think that’s the point where I feel like it’s just not gonna work out and you just gotta accept that you’re parting ways. It’s sad, but I guess it’s reality.
CDM: What qualities do you find important in friendship?
RUEL: Trust is one huge one obviously, and always having each other’s back, and actually feeling good and safe around them. If you’re gonna feel on edge, it’s not a great friendship I guess.
CDM: Do you have a song from ‘Ready’ which you feel is most representative of Ruel at the moment? Or a song you like playing live the most at the moment?
RUEL: I feel like the whole EP is such a variety of songs and genres that I’m really into, so I feel like all of them just kind of represent me as one... Because I don’t want to be pigeonholed in one genre, I want to explore every type of music before I choose what my particular sound is. So I feel like there’s not one particular song that can pinpoint what I am, I guess. The one that I always get really emotional to, is probably ‘Say’. Every time I do that live people get their phone-lights out, and I see the crowd reacting and then I start reacting, and it just makes a special moment. That song is very fun to sing and to emote to.
CDM: What else do you have planned for 2018 so far?
RUEL: I’m going to Japan next month which I’m super, super excited for. I’m doing Summer Sonic Festival over there. The line-up is crazy. So, Chance The Rapper is headlining. Billie Eilish. Rex Orange County - he's so cool, I can’t wait, I still remember Coachella, it was sick, it was so good, I gotta see him again. I haven’t seen Billie Eilish live either, she’s doing super well.
CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
RUEL: I wrote shitty one verses when I was like eight, about nothing. But the first proper song I wrote was when I was about twelve, and it was ‘Don’t Tell Me’. That song came from a dinner conversation with my parents and my two older sisters about a girl I liked at the time. They were just saying, ‘Ruel, you’re way too young to worry about that sort of stuff, you have no idea what you’re talking about.’ At the time that angered me and I talked to my Dad about it, and I wrote some lyrics down, a chorus, and kind of got like a whole thing fleshed out.
CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
RUEL: I feel like it’s changing. I’m kind of finding out what works for me best, still. I’ve done a lot of sessions where it’s just me writing in a room with a producer I’ve never met before and he doesn't write lyrics, so I’m there doing the lyrics. It all starts with a theme, it all has to come from an experience in my daily life and just exaggerated the shit out of to make it interesting. I feel like I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me and trying to find co-writers that I click with best. So it’s still in that stage. I way prefer [writing] based on something from myself, because or else I feel like I just can’t relate to it as much. I feel like when there’s no emotion behind the song, the soul and the feeling behind it gets lost.
CDM: What was it like co-writing 'Not Thinkin' Bout You' with Tobias Jesso Jr.?
RUEL: That was sick. That was a really weird session actually, because we accidentally triple-booked it, there was like seven more people in there than there needed to be. It was a really small room with a lot of people. We didn’t cancel two people that we needed to and they just rocked up at the same time. All of the cars just pulled into the driveway and it was like, ‘We can’t really send anyone home…’ They all just knew each other and we thought, ‘Hey, this will be fun.’ So we all just went in the studio, and I don’t know, it just popped. We talked for ages and then it was like, ‘Okay, we should probably get around to writing a song.’ Tobias came up with this melody and we just found these lyrics, and it was cool. It just flowed, it wasn’t really coming from anywhere, it just came out really quick.
CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
RUEL: I want them to just interpret it in any way they want to. I don’t feel like they need to see it as anything, I don’t want to be pigeonholed into any kind of field or genre. I want people to try and relate to it, because I try to make the songs as universal as possible. So they could happen to anyone, or in any sort of way. The thing that touches my heart the most is when I see fans and they say, ‘I could relate to this song so much and it helped me through this.’ That’s just the best feeling in the world, so that’s what I want to do.
CDM: If R.U.E.L. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
CDM: When are you going to come play a show in New Zealand?
RUEL: I’m hoping to get there by the end of this year. I’m going to do a three-day tour in the last month. I did one in Melbourne and one in Sydney at The Metro. I’m doing one all around Australia and will hopefully get there in New Zealand, we might do a little poll on Instagram and see how many people would come. I really wanna come back there. I come back pretty much every two years. My Dad grew up there and pretty much his whole family lives there, so we always go see them. I go to Queenstown all the time and that’s probably like my second favourite place on Earth. It’s so great, it feels like a different planet.
CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
RUEL: Steal one thing without consequence... ummm... money? <laughs> That's boring. I’m not really a gamer but I kind of want to get into it because all my friends are into it and they all talk about it. They all want PC’s, so probably a PC so I could put it in my room and watch movies and play games in my room. They’re so expensive, they’re like insanely expensive, like thousands of dollars.
CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
RUEL: Oh! I’m gonna look through my phone, there’s this one song I’m thinking of... ‘Busy Earnin' by Jungle. That would be such a sick anthem.
Ruel’s ‘Ready’ EP is out now - click here to purchase.
Watch the ‘Younger’ music video below…