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Finding Her Voice: MSM meets musician, Ruti

Ruti’s story is all about finding her voice. Ironically, while she was finding her voice, overnight millions of people found her sound - celestial tones and ethereal vocals.

Born and raised in Essex—her Dad is Nigerian, and her mum is from the UK. Growing up, there was plenty of gospel and ABBA playing in Ruti's family household. Ruti studied music in her college days and always sang in public - she says, “in life, people would probably describe me as a nervous person, but on stage, it all goes away.”

Living legend, Tom Jones described Ruti as being a “breath of fresh air” and since being crowned winner of The Voice season 18, Ruti is storming the industry with her soulful songwriting and melodic tones.

A year after the release of her debut single “Dreams”hit number one on the iTunes chart, Ruti’s 2019 iTunes chart-topping debut four-track EP, Racing Cars, pulled up. Her vocals float over the pulsing and euphoric title track. The EP also features the glorious “Changing Places”, “The Swan” and “I Couldn’t Do This Without You”—genre-blending tracks that take in folky and soulful influences.

Her world was changing at hyper speed and the lyrics of her next track “Dreams” articulated the complicated reality of the big things that were happening and the new places that Ruti found herself within.

After the release of the Racing Cars EP, Ruti broke away from the management and label deal she’d inherited from The Voice. She took her independence without missing a beat, choosing to build her team more organically, on her own terms instead.

Ruti's latest EP release “All at Once” presents her signature witty song writing - inspired and created with the seasons in mind, the body of work transports you into a multi-season universe. We think it is her best work yet!

Ruti meets Mission Statement editor Izabel to discuss life as a UK artist, how she got there and how she's embracing her music both personally and professionally.

How would you describe your music style?

I always loved that my sound has been described as dreamy and ethereal, so I’ve adopted those as my go-to adjectives. I would also say genre-wise it’s kinda pop-y and jazzy. Sometimes it falls further into one of those genres or something else entirely, but I think there’s a reoccurring floaty warm feeling in all of my songs.

So tell us about your personality compared to your music style?

I would say that my personality comes out in my music quite a lot and I can’t help it! Someone said recently that I speak like I sing, I think that it can be said that I’m generally quite a chill person. However, I do tend to get quite anxious. I can be loud too when I want to and I’m comfortable enough. But I think if someone else described me they would say I have calming energy.

What has been your experience during the journey of getting to where you are now?

Growing up - there was often music in the house and I remember watching the music channels at home with my Dad or at a family friend’s house. Neither of my parents are musicians, but they do enjoy music. I also started dancing at 3-years-old, so I’ve been performing for years and was involved a lot with musical theatre. I began exploring music more when I started secondary school. I joined the choirs, I got asked to perform with some bands on our music roadshow and in assemblies - the usual at school.

I studied music at GSCE and A-level, and I started to get into production at that point as well. In my second part of 6th form, I decided to go on The Voice UK. I didn’t consider it to be the biggest decision I’d ever make, but it did end up being pretty significant. I won the show in 2018 (which I was in no way expecting, at all!) and since then have just been finding my way through the industry.

I was signed to a major label and publisher after the show. Shortly after I released my first EP, I was released from all of it -which was definitely the best option for all parties involved. And I’ve now been able to get my own team together, and I feel so much more comfortable and happier. The EP that I’ve just released is my first independent project! I’m just excited to see what happens next.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

When I first started to sing my biggest vocal inspirations were Adele, Rebecca Ferguson and Emeli Sandé. I used to listen to the album 21 secretly when I was meant to be asleep on my iPod touch and I’ve probably sung every single song on ‘our versions of events in an assembly or school showcase. More recently, my biggest inspirations have been Laura Mvula, Lianne La Havas and Ella Fitzgerald. My music has definitely been influenced by lots of other musicians and these women have inspired me constantly.

What challenges and achievements have you faced during your music career so far?

I’d say one of my biggest achievements so far was winning the voice. The challenge came after that, trying to figure out what I was meant to be doing and I felt quite alone during that time. I was really questioning whether it was worth being in the music industry. I was anxious a lot of the time to the point of panic attacks. Thankfully, I began to realise that I was meant to be in this. I’m also grateful to the people that kept me grounded during that time.

Another one of my biggest achievements was being able to perform 7 nights at the O2 arena at the beginning of last year. I was part of a tour called Young Voices which brings together school choirs from up and down the country to perform massive concerts at some of the most iconic venues. The reason this was such a massive deal for me, apart from being to perform 24 shows to over 100,000 people, is that when I was in primary school the choir took part in one of their concerts at the O2 in 2007. It was one of those weird full circle moments. I didn’t ever expect to be there on the exact stage I saw 13 years prior. It was just one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in my career. I will always support what Young Voices are doing.

How do you envision your audience?

Anybody and everybody. I’d like to think that my music can be listened to by a wide audience. I’m excited to be able to see my audience soon - once we can gig again. I haven’t really had many gigs where people have come solely to see me. So, I don’t even really know what they will look like.

We love your new EP “All at Once” - what was the inspiration behind this body of music?

All of the tracks on “All at Once” represent a different season. They sound like what I think each season sounds like. That’s why the EP is called that - it is for the listeners, it's all the seasons happening at the same time. A whole year in one!

For example, 'Daylight', one of my newest songs is the winter excerpt. It's a lot moodier and lyrically sadder than the other tracks. It’s about feeling sad in the winter when nights are longer, and everything just feels dark. I know a lot of people feel the heaviness of their mental health during the winter months and I really do. It’s actually the only sad song I have currently released.

Then Closer to You, the summer track on the EP has a bubbly and warm feeling to it. It’s light-hearted, even though it's still personal to me. I wanted to write about something fun and feel like sunbeams.

How do you think your music makes people feel?

I hope that it makes people feel happy ultimately. When I write I have in mind each track being used for a soundtrack, so I hope people can use it in that way day-to-day. Whether you’re just relaxing, taking things slowly or out and about or even when you’re not in a good place.

I hope it can be relatable as well. I don’t necessarily write for it to be relatable, but I think we all share experiences in some way. For me personally hearing feelings in a song that I have felt myself make me feel less alone and almost encouraging.

What’s your biggest dream?

I really don’t have any big, big dreams. At the moment, I’m just seeing what happens and continuing to make music. Taking things a couple of steps at a time.

That being said, I am dreaming about performing live, doing my own tour and playing with a band again! I love performing so much and I honestly haven’t done tons of gigs since The Voice, not as much as I would have liked. Then everything stopped last year, and I was planning to do a small tour. But I’m ready to get right back into it as soon as we can!

How do you intend to get there?

As soon as we have some sort of certainty, I will be booking them venues! I’m focused on doing my first series of headline gigs. It probably won’t be a huge tour. In the meantime, I’m looking to get a band going again. I’m constantly thinking about visuals and the atmosphere I want to create at my gigs. And will continue writing so I can add fresh material to the set.

For more on Ruti, follow her @rutimusic on instagram.

Words by: Izabel Rose @miss.roseizzy

Photography: Henry James @henryjamesphotos

Talent: Ruti @rutimusic

MUA Grace Macartney @gracemacartneymakeup

Production: Charlie Chich @charliejchich

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