Electro pop, the music style of the decade, is bringing a new wave of artistry from across the globe. The rise to fame is no trivial task, but singer-songwriter Ruel has a tight grasp on the lever controlling the ascension from normality to pop stardom, and he’s pushing it to the stars.
Despite his young age, Ruel’s developed voice overcomes biological norms, and his music echoes the sounds, themes and industry expertise of A-list artists like Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Khalid, Frank Ocean, The Chainsmokers and Justin Bieber, making for a diverse fanbase.
Quick Facts About Ruel
— Ruel van Dijk, professionally known as Ruel, was born in England on Oct. 29, 2002, and raised in Australia.
— He was only 8 years old when he first began playing the guitar. Today, at 16, he is a multi-instrumental talent.
— At age 12, Ruel wrote his first song, and to his fortune, he was discovered, endorsed and later mentored by Grammy award-winning producer M-Phazes. Ruel later collaborated with the producer on various tracks, such as his “Golden Years” and M-Phazes’ “Weathered.”
— He is signed with RCA Records, a branch of major record label Sony Music Entertainment.
— At the 2018 ARIA Music Awards, Ruel deservingly won the Breakthrough Artist award.
— In 2017, Ruel supported North American rhythm and blues singer-songwriter Khalid on his American Teen Tour. The exposure and Khalid’s praise on social media paved the way for Ruel’s success in the United States. He has since done several international tours and is currently on the road in Asia.
Debut EP: “Ready”
At the impressive young age of 15, Ruel released his debut extended play titled “Ready,” which commences with a track simply called “Intro.” The 32-second song’s melodic piano instrumental sets the audience’s mood to match the melancholy tone of the electro pop record.
Although the piano is in the foreground of the track, the listener is distracted by a staticky recording that mimics a nostalgic telephone voice message. The message, left by a young Australian girl, describes an adolescent couple’s journey as their relationship matured. “We’ve been together for 10 years now,” the girl says, eager to strengthen their bond.
The instrumental intro effortlessly sweeps into the next, more electronic track, “Younger,” which alludes to the beginning of the couple’s companionship. Reflecting on the wistful failure of the friendship, Ruel belts out both his confusion and dismay.
“You and I used to walk the streets at night / Our parents didn’t know / Kept the TV going / Left on all the bedroom lights.”
“Dazed & Confused” appropriately follows “Younger,” as the thematic schema of confusion further develops. This time, however, instead of the confusion of an ending relationship, Ruel conveys a spurring romance. Heavy rock backdrops make the listeners’ heads shake with uncertainty, and the lyrical artistry creates a clear, emotional connection between Ruel’s sentiments and those of the audience.
“Oh I’ve been dazed and confused from the day I met you / Yeah I lost my head, and I’d do it again / Either I’ve seen the light, or I’m losing my mind.”
Listeners of all backgrounds can relate to the tipsy, day-dreamy, soulful convictions. Next on the record, “Not Thinkin’ Bout You” illustrates post-crush and post-break-up grief. Again, Ruel’s stellar music production amplifies the tone of the piece as a whole — blaring beat drops represent agitation toward the lost relationship.
“No, I don’t want somebody else / Feels like I’m going through hell / So I just lie to myself just to prove I’m not thinkin’ bout you.”
When the frustration of “Not Thinkin’ Bout You” distills in a final vocal riff, “Say” begins with another piano instrumental. The track realizes intense heartache that trails behind the intense aggravation of a break up. Listeners can yet again sympathize with the artist because of his desirous Mendes-esque lyricism.
Finally, Ruel completes the EP’s overarching theme of the confusion, frustration and poignancy of heartbreak with his last track, “Don’t Tell Me.” According to his label, RCA Records, Ruel wrote the song about four years ago after a disagreement with his parents when he told them about a girl he had a crush on, and they questioned the legitimacy of his love.
“And my whole family was like, ‘Ruel, you don’t know what you’re talking about; you’re way too young to think about that sort of stuff,'” he said. “And that really frustrated me. I thought, ‘They can’t tell me how I feel,’ so I wrote a song about it.”
The record resonates with young people who have been in love, but somehow, despite the tone of longing heard throughout the EP, Ruel’s music manages to appeal to every mood. You could have a happy, up-beat attitude on a sunny summer day, and the tone of the EP could still be relevant to you. The creative combination of desperate words and impactful beat production make for a record that will fit both your jam-out and chill-out playlists.
Ruel’s resolute vocals and raw music production draw in a diverse audience, because if you like pop music, dubstep, electro pop, ambient instrumental music, the sound of a subtle Australian accent or all of the above, you’ll like Ruel, too.