Up-and-coming 16-year-old artist Ruelprobably has a few more worries than most others his age as he is gearing up for his first Asian tour. The tour will bring the British-born, Australian singer to eight Asian cities as he crisscrosses the region, making a stop in Hong Kong on March 22.
Billboard Radio China recently caught up with the teen prodigy by phone to discuss the journey to his early success, the process that comes with putting together an EP at the tender age of 16, and the differences between audiences around the world.
Ruel recounts meeting his manager at age 12, before he was even a teenager. His manager, Nate Flagrant, got Ruel into his first music writing session. Despite the session initially being a bit daunting, he said, "I just felt right at home," relishing the opportunity to express his ideas and emotions on paper and then make them into songs.
This tremendous feeling is maximized by the sensation he gets when he is performing, and the audience sings the lyrics with him, showing that they have connected with his music.
Ruel's impending Asia tour will support the release of his debut six-track EP, Ready, which he describes as a mixture of alternative, pop, and soul scattered with a tinge of blues infusion. Ruel recounted the process of creating this debut album, describing his travels to Los Angeles to write with different people and find a good mesh with various songwriters and producers.
One collaboration that particularly clicked was with fellow Aussie producer M-Phazes who has worked with the likes of Demi Lovato, Eminem, Madonna, and KYLE and ended up producing the whole record.
"I went in with heaps of ideas and helps of feelings," he shared, saying he explained to them, "'This is what I want to write about and this is the vibe and genre in which I want to go with this song; can you guys help me do that?' I am really proud of the product," he said.
However, there are skeptics who question the relatability of a teen-aged songwriter. To his critics, he responds, "A lot of my songs do relate to me, and the lyrics come from a place within myself and things that I've experienced, but I can always put myself in other people's shoes that are older than me."
He further explained that his co-writers also draw upon their own experiences and weave those into the song to create a comprehensive experience. "I feel like a lot of the writing you hear is me grabbing experiences from other people," he explained.
Regardless of his age, Ruel is well versed when it comes to performing and entertaining a crowd. Having performed all over the world, he discussed the differences between audiences and what they contribute to a performance.
Australian audiences are perhaps those with whom he is most familiar. Geography tends to act as a natural buffer that reduces the number of artists that tour the country, and for this reason, he said that the audiences are all just really excited to have someone perform live, even if they are from Australia like himself.
Audiences in the United States are, "also really fun, energetic, dancing and having a good time." They tend to bring a lot of energy to shows and, like every audience, are amazing in their own right, he said.
Ruel reserves his highest praise for his Asian fans, excitedly explaining, "They are amazing! They are always so respectful and always so loud, which is great! The louder the crowd, the more energetic I am. Energy begets energy, and there is always such a great vibe."