Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
A few weeks ago, I doubt Ruel was on any A&R’s radar outside of Australia, but the 14-year-old singer from Sydney will be attracting much more attention since the release of his debut single, Don’t Tell Me. The track is currently in the UK viral top 10 on Spotify and no.14 globally. With his vocal talent and a teen star look, Ruel could have become famous on Musical.ly or Instagram, but his music and marketing are not targeting Gen Z. He’s more like a male equivalent of Birdy, who also skipped past the teen market, despite releasing her debut single at age 14. This allows him to stand out from his peers, and catch the attention of the music industry, in a way that young artists with much bigger followings haven’t been able to, because they’re unknown outside their social media bubble. Ruel is a protegée of Aussie producer M-Phazes, who’s worked with local stars such as Guy Sebastian, rappers including Eminem, and had a cut on the latest Zara Larsson album. The pair previously collaborated on a song called Golden Years, and performed on Like a Version (the Australian Live Lounge). With his youthful cuteness and a single that sounds like Rag’n’Bone Man (but much less growly), Ruel could have the mum market sewn up, and I reckon he’ll pick up plenty of fans of his own age along the way. And if you’re wondering how he came up with the name Ruel, it’s actually just his first name. His full name is the extremely un-Australian, Ruel Van Dijk.