Whether you’re listening to his music, watching him on stage or speaking to him in an interview, it’s easy to forget how young Ruel is. The Sydney teen isn’t even 16, yet he is relentlessly working on his exploding music career whilst juggling the books at school.
It’s not just at home, either; he is frequently clocking up miles flying overseas and showing audiences what the next generation of Aussie talent looks like.
Sir Elton John is already a fan, and Tyler The Creator just booked him for a killer festival in America alongside A$AP Rocky, Billie Eilish, Brockhampton, Jaden Smith, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Playboi Carti and Post Malone.
Music Feeds’ Jade Kennedy caught up with Ruel recently to talk tours, tutors and more.
Music Feeds: How are you Ruel?
Ruel: Hi, I’m great thank you how are you?
MF: Not too bad thanks. What’s been going on?
Ruel: I’ve just flown in from Sydney this morning, now I’m in Melbourne so now I’m just sitting on my manager’s couch.
MF: [Laughs] Well you can relax for now. Are you getting pumped though for this tour coming up?
Ruel: Very very excited, yes. I am so so hyped for this. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Yeah I’m just super excited to just get on the road again. And to do my first ever solo tour — I mean, I’m not supporting anyone.
MF: How weird is it seeing your name as the headline?
Ruel: It is very weird. It is very strange, but I like it… I like it a lot.
MF: I mean obviously you toured with Khalid and did your own – what was it, two shows? That sold out within minutes – how surreal was that?
Ruel: That was crazy. I did two shows, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. That was like my first ever thing, it was like an EP release party sort of thing, so it wasn’t like a tour but it was really really fun.
That was like my first taste of like a headline show and yeah, it was crazy. It was so fun. The crowd was amazing, I did an over 18 and an under 18 in Melbourne, which was really cool too, to see how those demographics can differ, which was really good. So yeah, then my next show, my next headline show, is in Toronto this weekend.
MF: That’s crazy. How do you cope with all the travel?
Ruel: Um… [laughs] to be honest I don’t really know. I guess I just cop it, do you know what I mean? Just take it on the chin, and try to get an early night when I can. Because it’s just planes take it out of you so much, and you’ve just got to try your best to sleep.
MF: Well you’ve not long got back from Japan and Korea — how was that?
Ruel: Yeah! That was incredible. That was absolutely insane. It was my second time in Japan — my second time performing — and I did the Summersonic Festival, which was crazy, the lineup was insane. So I was super super grateful to play there. Did one show in Tokyo and one in Osaka, and then I went to South Korea to do some promo there. Met a lot of fans, met a lot of people over there actually which was really cool, we did some photo shoots and all that sort of stuff, so yeah that was the coolest place I’ve been though, it was so sick.
MF: I saw that you got to meet Shawn Mendes as well.
Ruel: Oh yes! He was playing at the festival as well. He’s a great guy, very very nice fella. So yeah that was really cool.
MF: You have quite the entourage on the road with you I noticed.
Ruel: Well yeah, for that particular tour in Japan and Korea I actually brought my creative director, my videographer, my photographer, my manager, my manager’s girlfriend — who is my tutor and backup singer — and the whole band. So yeah, it was pretty big but it’s never usually that big. We just brought everyone over because, like, you’re only in Japan once [laughs]. It was pretty cool.
MF: What are the fans like over there? I’ve spoken to some bands that have said they can get a bit crazy in Japan.
Ruel: Yeah, so they’re very very loud, vocal, and very enthusiastic but they’re super super respectful at the same time. It’s pretty weird. They’ll always linger around, and there’ll be like hundreds of them waiting outside the airport, but they won’t ever go up to you or try to touch you, they’ll like keep their distance but kind of pop up and say things like, “Hey! Can I get a photo?” So you can casually go up and be like, “Yeah, of course,” which is kind of cool.
But someone told me actually, last time I was there, that even if the biggest pop star or the biggest singer in the world standing right there, and all their biggest fans from Japan were standing like five metres away from them, someone said there’s an imaginary line there and you can’t cross it — they won’t cross it. Like, they’re so obedient over there. It’s cool, they’re very respectful.
MF: That’s amazing. So, let’s be honest – you’ve had a very massive rise to fame very quickly – how have you managed to stay grounded?
Ruel: I guess my team are very very good with that sort of stuff. They’ll never let me get too big for my boots. Also, I’ve got two older sisters who are like the recipe for making you feel shit [laughs], so like if I ever came across too cocky in an interview they would be the first to go, “Shut up Ruel, you’re not that good!”
I’m so grateful for them, though, they’re amazing and super supportive as well, but yeah my family are very good for that sort of stuff.
MF: Haha, it sounds like they’ll keep you level no matter what. Obviously you’ve already met some fantastic people, and you’ve got some pretty amazing fans — I know Sir Elton John is a fan, which is incredible — so have you received any great advice along the way?
Ruel: [Laughs] That was crazy. So, so crazy. Well, Elton John — he wanted to meet me when he was in Sydney and I was there. So he arranged this meeting with another band called Winston Surfshirt, who are amazing, and we both went to his hotel to have lunch or, you know, just have a chat. And he was just really cool. We talked about new music for a bit, and he gave me some advice.
The best bit of advice he gave me was to always work with trustworthy people, and to always like the people you’re working with, because if you feel like there’s something up with someone on your team they could, like, be the person to screw you over. Which I thought was really helpful and I value that a lot.
MF: For sure. And you hear about that sort of thing happening all the time in the music industry.
Ruel: Yeah, exactly. It can be an ugly place.
MF: Yep, definitely. So, speaking of working with people you trust, I know that you’re friends with Dylan Joel, and he’s coming out in support of you on this tour.
Ruel: Yes! He’s my bro, I love him so much. Yeah, I’ve been friends with him for a few years now. He’s got the same manager as me, actually, so we’ve got a very close connection. But when I was 12 and just starting up doing some writing — like, I didn’t have any music out — I met him and he was just the nicest guy ever, and we’ve been bros ever since. I love him so much, he’s like a brother to me.
MF: Fantastic. And KIAN as well?
Ruel: Yes, KIAN is fantastic as well. He just won triple j Unearthed and yeah, I just saw his stuff and thought it was really really cool, what he was doing, and yeah I wanted to get him on with me as well. We’ll have fun.
MF: So did you get to pick the supports yourself?
Ruel: Um, so… kind of. I just sat down with my manager and we started going through artists that we were liking and, you know, I think we were both watching the triple j Unearthed thing play out and we were just like, “Oh, KIAN just won,” and he was really good, so yeah we contacted him and he was down for it so that was cool. And obviously Dylan, well yeah that was kind of bound to happen.
MF: Yeah, that was a no brainer. I’m actually a big fan of Dylan’s – I always give him shit on Instagram for forgetting the words to his own songs.
Ruel: [Laughs] Yeah, that does happen! At his Melbourne show he forgot them like, three times. It was… oh my god, that was hilarious. But he won’t forget any lyrics at my show [laughs], I’ll make sure of that.
MF: Yeah, every now and then I’ll message him or whatever and say, “So… do you remember your lyrics yet?” and he usually says no. I did see, too, that you’ve been announced for a killer show in LA at the end of the year — tell me about that.
Ruel: Yeah — you’re talking about Camp Flog Gnaw? Yeah! So Tyler, The Creator — he’s probably one of my favourite artists of all time. Like, Flower Boy, his latest album, is probably my favourite album of all time. He’s just been a huge inspiration to me. And a couple months ago he asked me to be on this festival, and I just freaked the hell out. I just had no idea what to do. So, I’m playing at Camp Flog Gnaw, his festival, and the lineup he’s put on there is just crazy. Like it’s stupid, the lineup he has. So yeah I am so excited, like crazy excited to play that.
MF: Do you think it’s going to be like one of those out of body experiences?
Ruel: Probably… I mean, it’s going to be my first-ever festival in America so I guess… I might be a little unfamiliar with how it all works over there, with festivals… but I’m playing very very early on, which I’m very very happy about, so I can just get my set over and done with and then just watch the rest of the show [laughs] so yeah, that’s going to be fun.
MF: Lap it up! So how did Tyler get on to you?
Ruel: Well actually we’ve got the same booking agent, which is also quite weird [laughs] that was pretty crazy — I’m signed to WME who puts on all of my shows for me, and he is also. So I guess the booking agent sent him some of my stuff, and — I hope he liked what he heard — and he put me on! So yeah, I’m super happy and super grateful.
MF: That’s fantastic. So obviously you’re 15 now, you’re making records, you’re touring… what’s the plan as far as studying and year 12 and everything goes?
Ruel: So actually for the past year or so while I’ve been on the road I could do my school online. I’ve just been hopping on to my computer at a hotel or an airport and just going online and doing the work I’ve been assigned by my teachers back in Sydney. And then when I come home I can slot right back into my class and it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far, but it’s getting a lot harder the more travelling I’m doing, so I think next year I’m definitely looking to drop out, or to just do home schooling.
I reckon home schooling… I think my parents want me to do home schooling [laughs].
MF: Well yeah, that’s probably a good idea.
Ruel: Yeah true, you’re right. Well I feel like I don’t want to go out into the world an idiot [laughs].
MF: You’ve already got a lot on your plate but is there any chance of an album on the horizon?
Ruel: Maybe… maybe. I guess I’m just going to start writing after the tour’s finished and we’ll see. It might be another EP or it might be an album… we’ll definitely release a few singles in between though, so new music is coming. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Ruel’s current national tour ends on Wednesday, 10th October with a show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre. His debut EP ‘Ready’ is out now.