Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
It’s something I started to do when I was 5. My mum had me playing the piano, learning for the Grade exams. I got to grade 5 and as I had already started on the cello I stopped with the piano and carried on to Grade 8 with that. I used to play it on its side like a bass. When I was thirteen my parents allowed me to blow all my savings on an electric bass and amp. I still have my first bass. It’s a 1970 Fender Musicmaster and it’s rather sexy… The rest, as they say, is history!
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
Hello, I am Hugh. Ruiz is my surname and that’s why I call myself Ruiz!. The exclamation mark was meant to distinguish me from all the other Ruizs in the world, there are a lot of us out there. It’s the Smith or Jones of the Spanish-speaking world.
My musical history started as a five year old and continued in the classical world until I was sixteen and joined a Durham University student band. We were called Don’t Kick the Baby and wrote all our own tunes, an unusual thing for Durham Uni bands. We were a bit like Gang of Four, A Certain Ratio, Echo and the Bunnymen meets early Simple Minds. I still have a few demo tapes lying around. They still sound mint.
When I got to Sheffield after my A levels, I began my journey of playing in indie, post punk, funky noise makers until I ended up in obLONG. We played the main stage at Tramlines a few times, got played on 6Music and worked with the marvelous and very talented Paul Blakeman down at the much-missed Club60, and also with the also very talented and lovely Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, MIA, WorkingMen’s Club, Yard Act etc). Just as things were beginning to pick up we split up. It’s all on Spotify if you fancy a listen, etc and then came Covid and lockdown… this forced me to pull my finger out, and teach myself to write and produce music, and so was born the solo artist I now am!
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I am doing really well in the scheme of things. My last three singles have all had huge amounts of streams on Spotify (other streaming services are available) and I’ve got over 1K followers on YouTube. My TikTocks get loads of likes…
My personal highlight was being featured on the BBC Introducing Mix Tape by the wonderful Tom Robinson. My track was played on his show on 6Music and I’ve been played on the Sheffield BBC Introducing and BBC Upload a few times also. I’m getting loads of plays around the world on smaller internet stations too, for which I am really touched and humbled. If I’m to believe the reviews, people like it!
How have your songwriting skills developed over time?
Yes, I would say they’ve developed. I’ve started focussing on the structure and length of the tracks. I think my first tracks were quite a sensory overloading. They’re a lot simpler now and as I want to take this live, the bass lines are simpler so I can perform them and sing!
I’m getting better at using Logic Pro and using synths, which are so much fun.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Yes, this has been going on for a long time. I think if you see anyone invading other people’s personal space you should say something about it. It’s certainly not acceptable for anyone to be groped, especially in a confined space where because of the numbers people think they can get away with it. It’s horrendous that it happens. Women should feel safe wherever they are.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
Twitter is great. The hashtag NewMusicFriday is truly a great thing, so make sure you hashtag the hell out of all Tweets etc. I do use MusoSoup and Grover to help me get my music out there. I do all my own PR. It is very time-consuming but really worth it and my streams and followers prove it works. I would like to get somebody on board to help me with that though… maybe a manager? Lol
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
1) I once played through John ‘the Ox’ Entwistle’s bass amp at a gig at a prestigious Camden pub filled with well-known musicians and celebrities.
2) I lent my bass amp on two separate occasions to the Bhundu Boys, a
Zimbabwean musical group who were one of the late John Peel’s favourite bands.
3) I have an Eastwood baritone guitar that used to belong to Sheffield’s favourite musical troubadour, Richard Hawley.
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
It’s insane how much they run the show. The amount of streams you have makes or breaks you. When you’re a 100% independent musical artist, with no financial backing it’s very difficult to get your head above the parapet. You need to get your music on as many Playlists as possible to get anywhere. I do need to get a band and play some gigs so I can break free from the virtual world I musically live in presently. I’m ready for a move…
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
Yes, no… Should I? Of course I do. How did the planes crash into the Twin Towers if it wasn’t an inside job?!! There are some that are more credible than others obviously. Did Hitler really take his own life? Why did we not find his body? Lol
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Define need… I bought a lot of vinyl and beer that I definitely didn’t need, especially with Spotify… I’m only kidding, vinyl is a beautiful thing. I did get a few guitars. Don’t tell the Mrs!
What was the worst experience on stage?
Not being able to hear myself is my biggest fear. That’s happened a few times in my life. I think the worst experience and regret is maybe when I was very much younger than today, the band I was in had sent a demo tape out to around 30 record companies, majors, and Indies. We had a manager and we’d been offered a publishing deal. He organised a showcase gig and they all turned up to watch us. We (mostly me…) got so drunk before the gig that it was a complete disaster. They say first impressions count… They really do.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I only started writing my own music, recording, and singing in 2020.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
My music is eclectic. I blend various styles/genres into creating my own sound, and I write strong melodic meaningful songs from the heart.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
Yes, The Human Touch is my last song for 2022 and is about the crazy two years that came before it. We’ve become more isolated as a society, not just here in the UK but across the world. Lockdown has affected us all in one way or another. The Human Touch is an observational song that I wrote as my strengths started to come back to me as I recovered from long covid and six months off work.
You can see it on the news and in interactions around you. People have become more paranoid and less caring about one’s fellow human beings. We’ve lost a lot of the important elements, the love, the human touch.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune.
As I said earlier, I had some ideas about my take on what I’d just gone through with three months in bed unable to move, pneumonia and two hospital stays with Covid, and what I’d observed on the telly and the press in general. I’d find that as I’d been off work and in bed for so long my daily routine had disappeared. I remember I woke up early stupid o’clock and picked up my phone. I dictated the lyrical idea onto that. The music came about as the majority of my songs do really. I jammed out some cool sounds, record them, and built the track up. Once I had a reasonable musical structure I started singing, and humming a melody which then became what you hear on the track.
What was the recording process like?
It is literally me sitting in the tiny office room in our house in Sheffield. I create musical noises I like until I have something I like and think works. Once done I have two friends, one who mixes all my music (Paul Galpin) and another who makes my artwork and most of my videos (Tony Fitzgerald) who I send the rough recordings. They tell me what they think. It’s hard writing and recording the songs on your own. When you’re in a band, people will tell you if they think that’s rubbish. I wouldn’t have that very important filter without them. The Human Touch didn’t take very long to write and record. I think it was a good six or seven hours of work to get it all down. Paul made it sound sweet… That does take a long, long time to get it right!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
I’m using a new Keyboard, it’s made by a French Company called Arturia. It blows my mind every time I get on it. That’s added an extra challenge but the sounds are amazing. I discover new functions in Logic Pro every time I use it. It’s part of the creative process now.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No. I am really pleased with it to be honest, and proud.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I have another single coming out at the end of Feb, or early March called Love is Blind, and then the Album will drop towards the end of April/March time. I’d like to perform for that! I need a band too, do you know any amazing musicians?