At just 12-years-old Australian singer/songwriter, Ruel, was offered the opportunity to turn his hobby of music and recording in his father’s studio, into a full-fledged career. His first single ‘Golden Years’ was then released in 2017 and catapulted the young artist into local and international stardom. When I last spoke to Ruel just over 12 months ago, we discussed the usual topics that surround a 16-year-old; school, love and his future aspirations. And on the cusp of a milestone 18th birthday and in the lead up to his newly-released EP, Bright Lights, Red Eyes, we connect on a Zoom call to speak about the next stage in his career.
“I don’t even drink at all, and I don’t aspire to, but it is so frustrating when I’m on tour with mates – a lot of my mates are older than me in the music industry – they can all just go to the pub and hang out,” Ruel tells ICON on turning 18. “And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’ll go home then’, that’s the sad thing. So, I’m just really excited to get into places.”
It’s a strange anomaly of age seeing as the Sydney-based star boasts 1.5 million followers on Instagram alone and can be seen touring the globe for crowds of thousands. Nonetheless as Ruel reveals, Bright Lights, Red Eyes is the next step in his career and in his maturity as a songwriter. “When you get more mature, you become more self-aware in my opinion and being self-aware is the most important thing to have as an artist, especially in this day and age with social media.”
In turn, the overarching style for Ruel’s latest music is “more adventurous” and “a little out of my comfort zone”, according to the artist. “As I’m getting older, the songwriting and quality is becoming a lot more mature and coming from an older person’s perspective.”
While lockdown restrictions have played a large hindrance to the music industry – touring is nearly impossible to execute – this new EP arrives with a creative experiential treatment, in lieu of live music. As well as a live-streamed rooftop performance to six continents on November 27, Ruel has launched his very own namesake TV network, RuelVision. Drawing from a ’70s aesthetic, the artist can be seen in skits and games that form insight into his ‘as long as you care’ music video.
As for what’s next? Once travel returns to a ‘new normal’, the 18-year-old hopes to return to Asia to continue his plans for a mammoth world tour.
Ruel’s latest EP ‘Bright Lights, Red Eyes’ is out now. For more from the artist, visit his website here.
Video edit: Kimberlee Kessler