On a school night, 15-year-old Ruel from Sydney, Australia sold out Baby’s All Right on September 19, packing the venue with young girls, their moms, and some people from the industry. His first tour in North America, Ruel has a surprisingly strong fan base and sold out all three of his shows in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles. With a solid band behind him, Ruel performed with a charisma and ease that shows he’s ready for the long haul. His vocals were full, with a likeness to Shawn Mendes off his recent album, and a raspiness and soulfulness that puts him beyond his years. A fresh-faced teenager, with the motivation, talent and a strong team behind him, including Australian producer M-Phases, Ruel could be set to be the next Mendes or Justin Bieber. He’s shown that he can bring a crowd internationally, having finished stops in Japan and Korea, his American leg, and an upcoming headlining tour across Australia and New Zealand. With a couple singles and an EP out, seeing what he produces next will be telling of his potential and he’s definitely someone to keep a keen eye on.
WSN caught up with Ruel right before his American tour stops to chat about his recent shows, his EP and what comes next.
WSN: How are you feeling about the three American tour stops? they've all sold out.
RUEL: I'm so over the moon at the moment. I'm so stoked. I had no idea it would go this well. I was a little bit skeptical at first, but I'm super super stoked that people have wanted to come to the shows and I can't wait to play them.
WSN: Great! How was playing in Japan and Korea just recently?
RUEL: That was incredible actually, absolutely amazing. It was my second time performing in Japan, so I kind of knew what to expect. But this time it was just crazy because I played a lot bigger festivals than I've done before, so there were a lot more people there. It’s so much fun in Japan. Korea was one of the coolest places I've ever been, like ever. South Korea's crazy. It's just like super super weird, but like really really cool. The people were so nice over there.
WSN: So, your EP came out back in June. How's the response been so far?
RUEL: I've been super super happy with the response so far, especially in Australia. People are receiving it really well. I guess I'm happy about the way that people are interpreting it, because nobody's ever thinking it as one thing and trying to give it a story, or a specific genre. No one's really trying to pigeonhole me as one sort of thing.
WSN: What was the process like putting that together?
RUEL: I started it when I was 12, and I'm 15 now, so it's been 3 years in the making. It's been a long time making it, so I'm super glad to have it out. I've pretty much been writing, or learning how to write the last few years, and getting to know the writers and producers and the industry. I'm super relieved to have it out and have something to call my own.
WSN: What's your songwriting process been like?
RUEL: So, pretty much all my songs come from like a theme or my everyday life, or something that might have happened that week or that month. Even if it's not something big that's happened, even if nothing really has happened in that month or week, I feel like I can really find any inspiration and let it come to me. I could find inspiration from me stubbing my toe that morning. I can really find anything and exaggerate it and make it this whole universally relatable thing.
WSN: You're also set to perform at Tyler the Creator's festival this November. Tell me a bit about how that came about?
RUEL: I'm insanely excited about that, crazy excited. Tyler's one of my favorite artists of this time. A couple months ago when I heard that he wanted me on, I freaked out, I really freaked the shit out. And I can't wait to play it. I've always wanted to go to this festival, ever since he started it and I can't wait to play it.
WSN: Are there any specific artists that you'd want to work with in the future or collaborate with?
RUEL: There's a bunch. I couldn't just name one, I'd be happy to name a few. Tyler the Creator, like I said, obviously. Frank Ocean, Rex Orange County, James Blake, Billie Eilish, Khalid. There's so many.
WSN: You've named a bunch of iconic artists, like Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse as some of your major influences. What was your experience with music growing up and how did you come to wanting to go into music?RUEL: Like you said, Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Dave Brubeck, all these artists my dad kind of forced onto me at a super young age. So that was all I listened to until I kind of made and developed my own taste. It gave me respect for the classics today and I'm super happy that I've been educated on that. I feel like they've definitely shaped my songwriting style.
WSN: A lot of people have touched on you being so young and not having a lot of life experience. Do you think your age puts you at any sort of disadvantage or puts you at an advantage?
RUEL: I feel like anyone can write a song about anything even if they haven't had life experience. I don't personally do it, but I could easily put myself in other people's shoes, and write about it. If I've got enough information about it or knowledge about it, I feel like you can write a song about anything.
WSN: What's your favorite song off the EP?
RUEL: I feel like all of them are very special to me for different reasons. I reckon that the most fun to write and the most fun to perform is “Not Thinkin’ Bout You.”
WSN: Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
RUEL: I don't really really know. I'm kind of just taking every day as it comes and hoping for the best. I'm super really grateful for what's happened so far. I feel like I just want to be touring, even more, going to weird places and weird cities, play the places where they don't really get musicians coming through.
WSN: You're going back to Australia and New Zealand after this American run. How are you feeling about those shows, coming back after doing a bit of international touring?
RUEL: I'm doing this American tour and then I go back to Australia and it's my first ever proper headlining tour, which I'm super super excited for. A bunch of shows over there have sold out. It's going to be a lot of fun, but definitely, I want to come back to North America and do even more shows over here.
WSN: Is it weird to be able to go home and have everything return to normal? Or does any of it follow you from when you're touring?
RUEL: I feel like yeah, I do really get to have a normal life when I go back home. It's something weird about Sydney or Australian bands, I feel like they really like to keep their distance. Sometimes I've been on the bus home and there've been a few fans that try to get on the bus and say hi but that's fine. It does feel very weird when you're with school friends. But most of the time, I can go back to Sydney and have a normal child, teenage life.
WSN: Has there been a moment where you've had an interaction that made you realize “Wow, this could be a big thing?"
RUEL: Like a fan interaction?
WSN: Any kind of moment.
RUEL: I reckon, in Korea, it was very very cool. When I came off the plane and through the gates, exiting the airport, there was like 90 to 100 people just waiting there and I had no idea I had any fanbase at all in Korea. I thought I was just going there to do some little TV performances and a little bit of promo. Never thought about really having fans over there. It was crazy. It was the coolest thing in the world. This whole other fanbase on the other side of the world. It was so crazy. It was so fun to meet everyone and I got to go through pretty much every single person standing there. It was really great. That's when I thought, oh this could be something if I've got a fanbase over here.
WSN: Looking back on how you got started, your dad sent off a cover of yours. what was your reaction to that since he did it without you knowing?
RUEL: He played it to a big Australian producer, M-Phases' manager, kind of coincidentally. My dad works in advertising and M-Phases' manager also manages these other guys that my dad was kind of working with. They kind of just met and there was a lot of downtime on set, so he just played this cover without me knowing. I recorded it like two months before not thinking it was anything, I just did it for fun. And, yeah, he played it to his manager and then his manager sent it to M-Phases and he liked it and we've been working together ever since. Without him, I definitely wouldn't even be close to where I am today.
WSN: What's that experience been like? What's a day to day?
RUEL: It definitely fluctuates. When I'm in Sydney, I go to school, I go home, maybe go for a surf and then sleep. When I'm running the world, I'm just really doing a lot of writing and singing, which I love the most. It's so great.
WSN: All right, that's it. So if there's anything else you want to say.
RUEL: Well like, I would say if you haven't already, come to the show, but it's all sold out. I'm so stoked about that. I really just, if you haven't, please check out my EP Ready. I'm very very proud of it. It's been a long time coming and I'm so happy to have it out and I really want as many people to hear it as possible. I don't care if you like it, but give it a shot.
WSN: Okay, so something we like to do is some quick fire questions. We've got some quick ones for you to fire off.
WSN: What's your favorite TV show?
RUEL: Um... Black Mirror.
WSN: A food that you hate?
WSN: Favorite color?
RUEL: Um... probably like a brown.
WSN: What's your favorite movie?
RUEL: Probably um… these aren't quick. These are hard. Um, probably White House Down.
WSN: Movie that made you cry?
RUEL: The Amy Winehouse documentary.
WSN: Who's your favorite artist?
RUEL: At the moment, probably Tyler the Creator.
WSN: A song you've got on repeat?
RUEL: Switch by 6LACK.
WSN: What's your worst habit?
RUEL: Um... hmm... sleeping in probably.
WSN: What was the last concert you went to?
RUEL: In Japan, I got to watch a few people there, so Shawn Mendes, Billie Eillish, and a few people I met there.
WSN: An irrational fear?
RUEL: An irrational fear? Um... hmm.. probably my tutor. She's right next to me right now and heard that.